Deadshirt’s very own Trashboys-in-residence Max Robinson and Mike Pfeiffer attended the New York premiere of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and discussed their thoughts on the film in the review below.
Mike: Max, I gotta tell you, when we got the invite to the red-carpet star-studded New York premier of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie I was a little apprehensive. Frankly, that concept sounded a little far fetched–and this is coming from a guy whose favorite movie is called Ghostbusters!
Max: *laughs, then more seriously* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a movie about monsters. Turtle monsters, specifically. And their dad, who is a rat. We’ve never read the graphic novel the film is purportedly based on, so die-hard fans can feel free to correct us in the comments, but Mike and I had some thoughts about this new Hollyweird blockbuster.
Mike: And what a block it busted! The line at the Lincoln Center Loew’s was around the block to see the Monsters and Maidens of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. With our exclusive press credentials we got all the luxuries:
…Incredible third row right-side seats
…Free robber masks
…Sodas with names! (Thank you for your service, Andrews.)
…And ALL the hottest stars!
Max: Ninja Turtles stars Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Megan Fox (Jennifer’s Body) were on hand to introduce the movie. Arnett, ravenously digging into a bag of popcorn, gave a brief speech about how New York City is a character in its own right and how important New Yorkers are to the film.
Mike: “When I say Ninja you say Turtle!” Megan Fox commanded us, and so we said it, and Max and I are editing our resumés to say “Megan Fox once told us to say Turtle.” We barely had a chance to present milady with a bouquet of gas-station roses before TMNT, as we’re calling it, launched onto the silver screen.
Max: Onto the review: The movie was fine!
Mike: This is the most consistently Acceptable product I’ve consumed this year. Earlier in 2014 I saw Amazing Spider-Man 2 twice, a total of five hours that I could have spent in the future hugging my cyberchildren. Instead, I was in a dark room for F I V E H O U R S watching a digital Jamie Foxx turn into dubstep to whomp a 30-year-old man in spandex who “Just Graduated High School.” I spent THREE HOURS OF MY LIFE seeing Frasier rant about how we need to check the Autobot’s shoes before they get on planes while Marky Mark stopped his daughter from giving handjobs during the god damn transforming car apocalypse. It was so nice to see a 90-minute movie that didn’t at any point make me yell “NO FUCKING WAY” and roll my eyes so hard that I heard cartoon bowling pin noises.Max: As stated earlier, the titular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are monsters. Friendly-monsters, like Mac from Mac and Me or odd-number incarnations of Frankenstein. They love karate, pizza, and family. They befriend our human protagonist, April O’Neil, a plucky and intrepid reporter with a dead dad.
Mike: The monster effects were incredible. Megan Fox’s performance was up to par, but that should be expected after working through two Transformers movies acting against barely anything real on set–no offense to Monsieur LeBeouf!! (Another Pfeiffer Zinger!!!)
Max: This is no time for jokes, Mike. You piece of shit.
Mike: please hyperlink to my apology later. Thank you.
Max: THE MOVIE OPENS WITH NARRATION FROM TONY SHALHOUB (later identified as the voice of Splinter, the Turtles’ sensei and father-figure). The city of New York has been under siege from a clandestine ninja-terrorist group known only as The Foot Clan for fifteen years. This hasn’t really changed New York too much though, aside from characters obsessively talking about The Foot Clan and a piece of dialogue that denotes that midtown Manhattan “has been hit so hard” by this escalated crime. They mostly stick to the theft of industrial chemicals. Is TMNT the first film about DiBlasio’s New York?
Mike: Plucky April O’Neill has a sighting of the heroic monsters standing up to the foot clan and makes it her work to track them down. Turns out they’re the result of a special experiment her pop and a billionaire industrialist were working on before he died. The industrialist is actually behind The Foot Clan’s sinister machinations and needs the Turtles’ blood for his sinister plan. Honestly there is almost nothing plot-wise in this movie that hasn’t been almost exactly in another movie in the past five years. With the exception, of course, of TEENAGE MUTANT FUCKING TURTLES, an insane concept from the goop-obsessed Nickelodeon brain trust.
Max: Yeah. The skyscraper destruction set piece was on loan from The Amazing Spider-Man, the introduction of the Turtles was a Diet Coke version of both the original Transformers film AND the dock scene from Batman Begins. It’s semi-okay that it’s a blockbuster Neapolitan because you’re here for one thing and one thing only: Rude As Hell Reptiles.
Mike: And seriously, they look great. They’re expressive, unique, fun, occasionally funny, and absolutely where the entire budget of the movie went because there is a laboratory scene that looks like it’s in my old high school, and a soundstage rooftop set that was used in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man.
Max: The actual Turtles are really well done and are responsible for the movie’s best moments. Even though they are largely disposable quip-delivery mechanisms, they get occasional moments of charm that are incredibly endearing. There’s a bit in an elevator where they slowly begin beatboxing together that is incredibly cute. We are, of course, not actually introduced to these characters until at least fifteen minutes into the film.
Mike: I thought it moved along briskly and the worst bits were the stapled-on studio garbage. Stuff like off-screen characters tossing unfunny one-liners in, the fact that turtles living IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK eat Pizza Hut and it’s their favorite pizza. Max had to grab my arm to keep me from throwing the fresh tomatoes that I got from mugging a Brooklynite. Also everybody hit on Megan Fox, and they were all bad at it. It was like watching Twitter. (BOOM ANOTHER PFEIFFER ZINGER)
Max: The movie’s strangest element was that it seemed to expect that we were already familiar with this crazy cast of characters, known only to the most knowledgeable of comics readers. The film had two major, half-characterized villains–evil industrialist Eric Sachs and The Shredder, a Japanese crime lord wearing a Trent Reznor Iron Man suit–when only one would have sufficed. Their plot to turn Manhattan into a quarantine zone via a chemical weapon attack is baffling, borderline incomprehensible.
Mike: It made way more sense in the movies that it was cribbed from.
Max: Maybe it was watching it in 3D from the right-most side of the theater, but I could barely follow any of the action in this movie, aside from a passable sequence set at the villains’ lair atop one of New York City’s famous nearby snowcapped mountain passes.Mike: I’m prone to forgive just about any geographical madness for a good action sequence, but Arnett’s pre-movie speech about New York being a character amounted to a couple of touristy locales (A Chinatown Alley, The Subway, Times Square) and then for some reason a mansion in like…Aspen. I think Arnett mighta been ‘avin a laugh, mate!
Max: I have never seen another human so into a bag of popcorn. A shipwrecked man dying of thirst, that popcorn was his Perrier.
Mike: Not executed with the visual splendor of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, not full of prolonged bouts of insanity like Amazing Spider-Man 2, TMNT is just sort of Acceptable. I will have a Quiznos Footlong Hoagie and a TMNT.
Max: My biggest takeaway from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that, as a middling movie with colorful cartoon monster heroes, frenetic action and ample scenes of Green Ooze In Capsules, this would be the ideal movie for my seven-year-old nephew.
Mike: Yeah, I can see somebody enjoying this when they’re seven and then being annoyingly nostalgic and fetishistic about it for like…25 years.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in theaters nationwide today.