Hello I’m a unicorn. *sigh* Shredder?
If you’re trying to turn that into a meme, it seems kinda forced.
No, I–well–shut up! Anyway, oh deary me, this movie. I’ll just get it out there right now: objectively, it’s not a bad movie. It’s actually quite good, but there are certain aspects of this film I loathe with a burning passion and you’ll see why in a minute. I think that my feelings will probably be best explained in bullet form, and separated into the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- The Animation: Say what you want about the movie, but it is beautifully animated. The city looks grimy and lived in, without being grim or dark. The film has a unique look and that works in it’s favor. The Turtles have never looked better when fighting or expressing a wide range of emotions.
- The Voice Acting: It’s top notch. Every character has a distinct voice and they carry the story really well. The celebrity voice actors are kept to a minimum, preferring use actual voice actors, which is how animated movies should be done. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played April in the movie, was almost unrecognizable. In my opinion, she would actually be an amazing April O’Neal in a live action film as opposed to Meghan Fox (I’ll get to that casting decision if I see the new movie). Anyway, with the exception of the extremely recognizable Mako as Splinter, I never saw people in a sound booth, I just saw the Turtles.
- The Fight Scene Between Raph and Leo: It’s a beautifully animated and brutal culmination of all the tension between the brothers. There are parts that I hate about it, which I’ll get to later, but credit needs to be given where it’s due, and that was a fantastic fight scene.
- The Themes and Message: The main story is about brothers who have been estranged coming together again. That is a beautiful concept and would make for a great plot for a Ninja Turtles film, but…
- The Plot: So, here it goes: 3000 years ago, a great general and his family accidentally opened a portal to another world, unleashing 13 monsters, granting the general immortality, and turning his family to stone. Now that the conditions are right, the general wants to send these monsters back from whence they came and break the curse. What does this have to do with the Turtles? Nothing. They literally stumble upon this with sheer, dumb, bad luck. They don’t even meet the general until the very end of the film.The majority of the run time is the Turtles trying to become a team again after Leo left the group for reasons never explained in the film. Look, if you’re going to break up the Turtles, that’s fine, but please explain why they were broken up, because otherwise, the character arc just falls flat. For all I know, Leo was sent away because he couldn’t decide who will get the last slice of pizza. Also, Karai is in the movie, probably because she was a popular character in the 2003 show. She doesn’t do much, she’s just there.
- Donny And Mikey: Well, they certainly existed in this film. Nothing much can be said about them. They were pretty much supporting characters in the Leo/Raph show, which brings us the one of the worst aspects of the film…
- Leo’s Characterization And That Line. You Know The One: Ugh. Leo saying that he’s better than Raph to his face has got to be as bad as or worse than Pa Kent saying that maybe Clark should have let a bus full of kids die. Do you know why I hate the line so much? It’s not because it didn’t make sense in the context of the movie, and it’s not because it gives Raph yet another reason to be the perfect martyr in the situation. It’s because Leo is the character I always looked up to and identified with. He is the character that I’ve always admired for his devotion to his family, his leadership skills, his ability to look for and seethe best in people and most of all, his humility. The Leo I know and love would never say anything like this, which is a part of the reason he’s my favorite. He never had to say that he was awesome, he just was. Whenever I got into an argument with my family, I’d take a step back and ask myself what Leo would do in this situation. Growing up, I never wanted to be like Superman or Captain America. I wanted to be like Leonardo the Ninja Turtle, so when I see this character treated so horribly in this movie, it hurts me. It hurts me that the writer, Kevin Monroe, was so interested in making Raph seem like some sort of martyr who has to learn how to control his anger for the thirtieth time that he forgets to give my childhood hero motivation for being a jerk. It hurts me that, in the end, Raph is vindicated, and they win not by Leo’s leadership and their camaraderie, but by Casey and April delivering a macguffin to them. Leo never proves himself to be a good leader, which makes all his character motivations and arc moot. Also, I’m sick of Raphael. I don’t hate him, I’m just tired of his character arc being done over and over in every cartoon, movie, and comic. He’s the low hanging fruit which writers pick. I’d like to see movie where Mikey or Donny get a major character arc, instead of Raph, once again, learning that his brothers are there for him no matter how much he angsts. It frustrates me that Leo is always the bossy bad guy who is only there to drum up some brotherly conflict with Raph while the other two Turtles fade to the background. One thing I loved about the 2003 show is that whenever Leo and Raph fought, which was fairly rare, they both had valid arguments. None of those conflicts as felt forced as the one in this movie, where Leo’s logic makes no sense and he’s being an arrogant idiot. It hurts and angers me to see my favorite Turtle, the one who I try to emulate and has affected everything about me right down to my favorite color, be reduced to a smug jerk for the sake of the contrived plot. This is what prevents me from enjoying the movie more than anything else. I can forgive the confusing plot, the vital information left out, and the other two Turtles fading into the background, but the treatment of one of my heroes is just awful.
Even though I ranted, overall, the movie is pretty decent. It’s definitely the second best out of the cinematic appearances, but considering that the competition is the one with Vanilla Ice and the one I reviewed last week, that’s not saying much. If you can get past the plot, the warping of Leo’s character and backstory for the sake of being foil for Raph and the lack of Donny and Mikey, it still is an entertaining Turtles flick, just not the masterpiece it was trying to be. If you adore Leonardo like I do, you might be angered by it, but otherwise, it still is worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now, but seriously writers, just stop it with the Raph/Leo conflict, it’s been done to death. Follow IDW’s example and put some tension between Leo and Donnie, that would be cool to see. Next post, to round out Turtles Month, I’ll talk about the single greatest crossover in Saturday Morning Cartoon history, Turtles Forever, and I can give up ranting for the moment.