Very rarely do the things we cherish as youth hold up over time. By the 1980s, the cartoons my generation watched were mostly extended commercials to sell toys. Nevertheless, the lasting ones all seemed to have a good spirit. There were lessons to be learned about teamwork, camaraderie, and leadership. And, then we would go buy some toys.
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action reboot is a hollow Makerbot rendering of a movie. It is a garbled pastiche of disconnected pop culture references crudely assembled, as if by not-yet-ready-for-Skynet A.I. trying to calculate the best ratio of human enjoyment vs product placement.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has all the classic features of the Michael Bay system. Pizza Hut. Elaborate, but mostly pointless sound and effects. Pizza Hut. An attractive, yet robotic Megan Fox. Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut. A completely incoherent plot that only the numbest of moviegoers could accept, and plenty of lens flare for everyone. This really should be no surprise. Pizza Hut.
Will Arnett provides virtually the only moments of genuine humor in the movie. His efforts are mostly squandered here.
If you are old enough to have discovered TMNT through Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original comic book, it may dishearten you to know that both have wholeheartedly endorsed this movie reboot. The original comic was a lark, a parody of comic book tropes. This movie is a parody of itself. And yet, woefully unfunny.
Eastman sold his share of the franchise to Laird long ago. Laird sold the rest to Nickelodeon in 2009 for $60 million dollars, though he did work with Bay’s team to develop the film. Though that hasn’t stopped him from being critical of some of the filmmakers’ choices. I guess we all grow up.
Don’t get it twisted, Michael Bay does not give a fuck about you. You can lament all you want about how he seems determined to destroy everything you held dear through your childhood, but it won’t stop him from taking all that precious nostalgia, sending it through his grinder of gilded mediocrity, and turning a profit. And moviegoers eat it up. Rotten Tomatometers and fanboy outrage did not prevent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from being the #1 movie at the box office.
Cry all you want, the Michael Bay system has made him and everyone on his team very rich. He could not care any less about what you have to say about it. Bay is a Hollywood success, and this is after all, just a movie. Right?