Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Christian Movie Review!
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Commercials — uh, I mean Turtles — have returned to the big-screen. That little typo isn’t far from the truth, as I’ll discuss in my review below the parental guidance section. But one thing is clear: yeah, sure, all of us children of the ’80s and ’90s loved the Ninja Turtles cartoons and goofy live-action movies when we were in grade school; but this PG-13 movie is not for kids, mainly because of the dark, gritty, violent themes and the gore in one scene in particular.
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content/Nudity: No sex scenes or nudity. In one scene, the camera lingers on Megan Fox’s butt as Will Arnett’s character leers at her from behind. Michelangelo makes a joke that is blatant sexual innuendo (and weirdly out of place for the Ninja Turtles). Oddly enough, the most sexually charged content hit the audience during the trailers BEFORE the movie. The studios attached a trailer for the Dumb and Dumber sequel to Ninja Turtles, and it has one of the most offensive, sexually foul scenes I’ve ever seen in a trailer. It shocked everyone in the audience. I heard people gasp across the entire theater. It was disgusting. What was weird about it was that all of the other trailers were for family/kid movies. What the heck was the studio thinking? So be warned: assuming the studio is using the same trailers for Ninja Turtles across the country, I would avoid seeing this movie in the theater simply to avoid seeing the Dumb and Dumber trailer. It almost borders on an R-rated scene, in my opinion. I would seriously recommend asking the theater which trailers are playing before Ninja Turtles, and if Dumb and Dumber’s sequel is one of them, just skip the whole thing or arrive late after the trailers are finished (Dumb and Dumber was the last trailer).
Language: A couple a-words and one d-word. There are some really cheesy, terrible puns; do they count as obscenity? Some of the dialogue is so campy, nonsensical, and eye-rolling — I mean really terrible — that I think it should be included in this category.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: None.
Frightening/Intense/Emotionally Heavy Content: The goriest scene in the movie, and the one that probably placed the movie into PG-13, has one of Shredder’s foot soldiers injected with a toxin, and we see up close as he convulses, his skin burns and melts from the inside out, and his eyes roll up into his head in death spasms. It’s a brief scene, but it is gory enough that it could really disturb kids. So again, please don’t haul your kids below 13 to this. Besides that, there is martial arts combat, which includes all manner of clobbering and crushing and stabbing with weapons.
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“Thanks to the product placement, Teenage Mutant Ninja Commercials is a much more accurate name.”
Entertainment Value and Film Craft
I’ll start with the product placement. Good grief, Michael Bay, you really know how to sell your ad space. I wish I could take a consulting class from you on selling advertising. Teenage Mutant Ninja Commercials has two prominent commercials embedded into it: one for Skype and the other for Pizza Hut. The pizza scene was one of the longest, most distracting product placements I’ve ever seen in a movie. It was seriously the length of an actual commercial, and it was incredibly distracting — not to mention the overload of pop culture references awkwardly forced into the dialogue to appeal to as many mainstream pop consumers as possible. Thanks to the product placement, Teenage Mutant Ninja Commercials is a much more accurate name.
This movie also wins the award for having the most cliche plot of 2014, and also some of the worst dialogue — even on par with Transformers: Age of Extinction. In one scene, Shredder says with grave, menacing seriousness, “Tonight, I dine on turtle soup.” Yes, I know this line is a famous tag-line of Shredder’s from the cartoons, but come on. Even I knew it was a really bad line when I was a kid, and some things should just stay in the cartoon, okay? In another scene a villain says, “Drain every last ounce of their blood, even if it kills them.” Those are just a few examples of the film’s painfully bad dialogue.
Michael Bay directed Transformers. He produced Ninja Turtles, which certainly means he approved the final script. Both movies had terrible dialogue. I can only conclude that Michael Bay has a very high tolerance for wince-inducing one-liners.
It’s a shame because the four Ninja Turtles, despite their Hulk-like roided out bodies, had great personalities. They were funny and likeable. The movie really got the fun-loving teenage ninja turtle vibe down pat, and the best scenes always involved their silly personalities interacting with each other or with April O’Neil. The movie had great special effects and great actors (Will Arnett, Megan Fox, Whoopie Goldberg, William Fichtner), but the filmmakers did a great disservice to them by placing all of the talent in an eye-rolling, predictable-beyond-belief plot riddled with middle school dialogue.
Also, what was up with them casting a miniature Megatron as Shredder? I’m referring to the insanely Transformer-esque body armor that Shredder wears. It essentially reduced him to a CGI character. There was an actual human actor beneath the armor somewhere, but the filmmakers used CGI to add so many layers of mechanized weaponry that the person who played Shredder got less screen time than many of the extras. It made Shredder less believable somehow.
Diehard Ninja Turtle fans will dig deep and find it in themselves to forgive the movie’s fatal flaws simply because the movie did get one thing right: the fun and endearing personalities of the four Ninja Turtles.
Everyone else will be wishing they had gone to see Guardians of the Galaxy instead. I certainly felt that way, and I’ve already seen Guardians of the Galaxy once.
And despite the great qualities of those four goof-off warrior turtles, the movie’s gore and intensity does not make it a good choice for an all-ages family outing to the theaters. Unfortunately, just because they’re rebooting a beloved kid’s cartoon from the bygone years does not mean that you should bring any kids with you.