Grab a pizza and get ready to shout, "Cowabunga," because the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is finally here!
The reboot of the hit comic franchise is produced by Michael Bay and stars Megan Fox as reporter April O'Neil, Whoopi Goldberg as her boss Bernadette Thompson, Will Arnett as cameraman Vernon Fenwick, Alan Ritchson (Gloss in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as Raphael, Noel Fisher (Mickey on Shameless) as Michelangelo, Pete Ploszek as Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Jeremy Howard (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) as Donatello, Danny Woodburn as Splinter and William Fichtner and Tohoru Masamune as the villains Eric Sacks and Shredder.
Many fans still remember the 1990s Turtles films, which used Jim Henson costumes, with fondness. In the new TMNT, the actors are transformed into the superheroes with the help of body suits and advanced motion-capture technology and special effects. Will it live up to viewers' expectations? Check out five reviews from top film critics below.
1. Variety's Justin Chang calls Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a "back-to-basics origin saga that is neither a particularly good movie nor the pop-cultural travesty that some were dreading," adding that the script seemed "dull-witted" and criticizing the way the superheroes are shown.
He says that the characters "may look more hulking, more grotesque and certainly more like the products of advanced genetic mutation, but they also lack a certain engaging, intangible quality that Jim Henson's rubbery-looking '90s creations, though of an inferior technological grade, had in abundance. You might as well call it soul, and without it, any deeper viewer connection to these Turtles remains firmly at bay."
2. The Hollywood Reporter's Justin Lowe praises the motion-capture technology, saying it allows the actors playing the turtles and their mentor Splinter to "achieve a persuasive level of realism." He says the superheroes' display of humor is "pitched at an appropriately juvenile level" and that "Arnett has the only role that comes close to matching the turtles' verve, but doesn't get enough time onscreen to create a lasting impression."
Fox as O'Neil, Lowe writes, spends much of the movie "acting bewildered" and says too much screen time is devoted to her investigation of the four then-vigilantes, which "results in a frustrating delay before the turtles finally appear onscreen."
3. Film.com's James Rocchi rates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a 3.0 out of 10 and says it is "incredibly violent it is for a PG-13 movie" and also contains some "disquieting" sexism, including innuendo-filled jokes about Fox-as-O'Neil. The movie, he says, is "bland, familiar, lazy and drunk on a deadly mix of nostalgia and unthinking adrenaline," adding, "It's a property made to mock 1980′s pop culture that, in 2014, doesn't really connect to anything other than itself."
He also criticizes the film's use of product placement and adds that it "wastes the comedic abilities of Will Arnett as a horny, hangdog cameraman crushing on Fox's April O'Neil."
4. A.V. Club's A.A. Dowd gives the film a C+ grade, saying, "Michael Bay preserves the origins, but not the fun, of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." He likes the characters' "digital makeover" and also notes the film's sexist moments. He says the turtles' "human co-stars" lack charisma and are "granted more screen time than their underwritten roles merit."
As for the villains, Dowd writes that "William Fichtner phones in his performance as an oily bigwig scientist, while the Turtles' formidable arch-rival, metal-clad samurai The Shredder, seems to have been subbed in from a side-scrolling arcade game."
5. Vulture's Bilge Ebiri writes that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "takes itself way too seriously," adding that the film "wants to reimagine the beloved, tongue-in-cheek kids' phenomenon into a more weighty, pseudorealistic action spectacle." The humor in the movie, he says, "feels welded on," although some of the "funny bits work."
"They also manage to work in approximately 576 push-ins on Megan Fox's immaculately bewildered face and 893 references to how hot Megan Fox looks, because Michael Bay," Ebiri adds. "Somewhere along the way, you might find yourself wondering who the audience for this movie is."