Director Jonathan Liebesman takes us back to the sewers of New York where four reptilian brothers Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello live with their master Splinter and spend their time practising martial arts in readiness for a day of reckoning. This soon arrives when the evil Foot Clan attempt to take control of the city, led by the wicked Shredder. So far, so familiar. But this is a world of iPhones and Xbox, and even the turtles’ appearance is startling, from cartoon to animated 3D, they seem giant and more intimating than before. It lent the film a darker tone. That said there is familiarity in their habits – the pizza eating, cheeky sibling rivalry and abundant love for their catch phrases “cowabunga” and “bodacious”.
Megan Fox appears as rookie journalist April O’Neil. Desperate for a scoop that will launch her career, she’s on the trail of the the Foot Clan. Starring in her first film since she gave birth, it’s strange not seeing her in her usual sexy role but also interesting to have that element removed and seeing what she does with it. Other familiar faces were Whoopi Goldberg as an unimpressed newspaper editor and Will Arnett as April’s sidekick. Ever since Sister Act I’ve loved Whoopi, and I kept expecting her to pop up again but she didn’t. I liked Arnett’s character too, as he wasn’t stereotypically useless when the action got going.
The story meanders initially. A series of events reveal April’s childhood connection to the turtles through her father’s work. Then comes the action part. This jolted my attention. I was on the edge of my seat. Earlier my concentration had wandered, but then I’m not 10 years old anymore. The small boy in the seat next to me seemed to love it!
I enjoyed this film and a 21st century update didn’t harm it. I wanted to see more of the characters developed though, in particular the turtle’s personalities. Perhaps I’m getting old but I remember their quirks so clearly and I felt they could have been brought out to better effect. It was also pretty violent, but then what did I expect? They’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is released in UK cinemas on 17 October