Movie Review: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – Does it Reach its Target Demographic?

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-header-new-look.jpgThis past weekend the Michael Bay-produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit theaters all over the country and – just as Megan Fox predicted – audiences went out in droves to see the latest adventures of their favorite reptilian masters of the martial arts. Considering the vicious reviews the movie had already attracted weeks before its release, it is fair to say that I did not have the highest of hopes for the flick and expected a train wreck of Twilight proportions. The lights went down, the movie (released by Nickelodeon Movies) started, and about ten minutes in I realized something remarkable – not only did I not hate what I was watching, I was actually having a blast.  More importantly, the kids in the audience – i.e. the key demographic – were having even more fun than I was!

The showing I went to was completely sold out and a good 60% of the audience was under the age of 13, and it occurred to me that these are the viewers the studio is trying to hook. This is the audience who will run out and give themselves over completely to the marketing strategy and toys that the new Ninja Turtles brought along with them.  These are the kids who will beg their parents to buy the Blu-ray when it releases.  This is their party and we (adults) are the ones who are bankrolling the fun.

Splinter-vs-The-Shredder-in-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-TurtlesSo, after the movie, I decided to ask my 10 year old son some of his thoughts on the movie, specifically regarding many of the complaints that have been noted almost universally in each terrible review. Beyond just being in the target demographic, my son has plenty of qualifications that lend his opinions on this matter some credence: he has been a TMNT fan ever since he was old enough to know what a turtle was; he has the original cartoon series on DVD and has seen most of the episodes several times; he loves the original 1990 motion picture, enjoys 1991’s sequel, The Secret of the Ooze, though less than the first movie; he isn’t a fan of Turtles in Time, the 1993 entry into the franchise; and while he has seen it a couple of times, 2007’s animated attempt at rebooting the franchise, TMNT, is rather forgettable to him. Finally, and maybe most importantly, he does NOT enjoy the 1997 live action television series, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.

In other words, while he may not have been exposed to the original Eastman comics, he is every bit as qualified as most of us when it comes to discussing the heroes in a half-shell and he isn’t about to give the movie a pass just because it’s a Ninja Turtles property. So, how did he feel about the movie?  How did his opinions weigh against mine?  Believe it or not, we agreed about almost each point.


How did you feel about the Turtles’ new look?  How about Splinter?

I thought they looked really cool!  Splinter was a little creepy but he still looked really cool.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie 2014 1Personally, I didn’t love the Turtles’ new look, but after a few minutes of seeing them on screen, I quickly adapted and didn’t think about it again.  It wasn’t something that was so distracting throughout the movie like some early reviewers claimed.

So, you didn’t mind the changes?

No, it wasn’t a big deal.

What about April O’Neil? Did you like her more this time out?

I think the other April was a lot better but she was okay.

Megan Fox will never win an Oscar. Ever. Her “acting” is little more than running and sweating and breathing heavily, mostly while looking confused.  Unfortunately, this movie simply gave people more of what they have come to expect from Fox and completely backs up the reason why she will never be a leading lady in Hollywood.

How did you feel about the action? Did you enjoy the action scenes or did you find them hard to follow?

No, I thought the action was really great! I liked all of the fight scenes!

This is another point I agree on. Many people seemed to have trouble following the action throughout the movie, especially in the final fight scene which takes place on a snowy mountain, but I didn’t have a problem with this.  There are plenty of cool fight scenes throughout the movie and plenty of fun to be had within those scenes.

Ninja SnowWhat was your favorite scene in the movie?

I loved when Michelangelo finally said “cowabunga”! That was always his catch phrase so it was really cool to hear him say it in the movie.

I did enjoy this scene as well, but this was far from my favorite scene.  That honor goes to the elevator beat box scene. It was completely out of left field but it did something important – it reminded the audience that these are just teenagers doing the best that they can. It had movie goers laughing and was an interesting, silly thing to add to a movie with an already silly premise.  In fact, there are several scenes spread throughout the movie that remind viewers to relax.  In the end, the entire premise is ridiculous and if you accept that from the get-go, the rest of the experience can only be better.

What would you like to see in the sequel?

Leatherhead.  Definitely Leatherhead.

2652257-leatherheadfredwolf01It is tough to introduce any villainous character other than Shredder in an initial Ninja Turtles movie, since he is the most believable bad guy in the bunch.  So, of course the reboot wasn’t going to introduce any of the many other mutant villains that continuously battle the Turtles.  However, now that the universe has been established, there is potential to bring in plenty of fan favorite baddies, including Bebop and Rocksteady, Leatherhead, Krang, even The Fly (Baxter Stockman)–who Megan Fox confirmed was in the reboot (I didn’t catch him).

So, do you think it was better than the original?

The first movie was better but this was really close. It was really good and I liked it a lot!

The first movie was absolutely wonderful to watch as a kid but, like many other things, it’s best to let it live on in your memories rather than revisit it.  In my mind, the first movie was fun and hilarious, a tribute to the times we were living in when it was released.  Watching it again as an adult, however, gives the viewer an entirely different experience than the one that was built up in their head.  That being said, the original Turtles movie gave audiences their first glimpse of the potential these mutants had and presented them with a team of superheroes unlike anything they had seen before.  Was it better than the reboot?  Perhaps, but honestly, it is a close race.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-25th-anniversary-collection-20090810015115137All in all, despite the horrible reviews that have plagued the movie ever since Bay was attached, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun ride and enjoyable for the entire family.  More importantly, the target demographic felt that the movie hit the mark.  There are plot holes here and there, and there are coincidences that make things much easier than they should be, but this is a movie about turtles that were transformed into ninjas thanks to an experimental ooze. How seriously can you take it?  If you want a movie of the same caliber as The Artist or Citizen Kane or The Wolf of Wall Street, keep moving, there’s nothing for you to see here. If you want to turn your brain off for a couple of hours to have some dumb fun and remember what it’s like to be a kid again, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may be the movie for you.

Rating 3

 

About Rush Urbalejo

Assistant Editor. Rush Urbalejo is a lifelong fan of comic books, movies, and television, however, his true passion is writing. His interests came together when Rush joined Kabooooom as a contributing writer for the comic section in 2012. Since then, he has interviewed several comic creators for the "Kabooooom Quickies" feature as well as writing several comic book reviews before moving on to his current role in Kabooooom's television section. Follow Rush on Twitter @Rush1031 and join him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rush.urbalejo

3 comments on “Movie Review: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – Does it Reach its Target Demographic?

  1. I’d agree with the sentiment that it was better than expected. However, as a life-long turtle fan I’m stopping there. It was not close to the first movie. Yes if you watch it now it is filled with late 80’s/early 90’s humor and its not as visually stunning but it is still a joy to watch. It stuck to the comic book origins. It was fun but had a nice edginess to it. For the limitations they had, it was amazing. Also, I don’t know why everyone hates on the 2007 movie. It is very underrated. The story development between the turtles coming back together was great, the cast was very good, fight scenes were great, but villains could have been better. I don’t get why people hate on it so much.

    1. Personally, I don’t hate the 2007 movie, I just find it very forgettable. I’d much rather watch something like Turtles Forever, if I am going for an animated Turtles movie. As for the original movie, I rewatched it just before going to see the reboot (as I usually do with originals prior to seeing the reboot) just to make sure it really lived up to my memory of the movie. Was it cool? Sure! Especially as a kid. However, there are a lot of problems with it, technically speaking. When you mention the comic book origins, I agree that having them stumble across the ooze was a bit more believable than what happened in the reboot but that was really the only thing different in terms of their origins. April named the turtles, just as she did here; they grew up in the sewers, as they did here; and they became ninjas, just as they did here. It was definitely a fun ride and I hope more people give it a shot so that we do get Dimension X in the sequel!

      1. I appreciate your positive thinking but Splinter names the turtles. I can’t remember April ever naming them. Anyway, I’m am just happy the movie wasn’t a dud.

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