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Originally published Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 9:50 AM

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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’: Reboot should’ve stayed in its shell

A movie review of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” a Michael Bay-produced reboot that’s been drained of the goofy lightheartedness of the original movies. It got one star out of four.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review ★  

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ with Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, from a screenplay by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec and Evan Daugherty. 101 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. Several theaters.

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I have this nightmare. In it, every other movie I see is by Michael Bay.

I wake up screaming.

It’s been but a month or so since Bay’s latest “Transformers” blew into theaters and blew up the box office. And now he’s back, with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Two Bay behemoths rampaging through the ’plexes in a single summer. The nightmare is real.

He didn’t direct “Turtles.” Jonathan Liebesman (“Wrath of the Titans”) is the perp on this one. However, Bay produced, and his paw prints are all over the finished product.

Crash-boom-bam action beats, a Bay trademark: “Turtles” has ’em. There’s a scene late in the picture where the hard-shelled heroes are injected with mass quantities of adrenaline. One could be excused for thinking that Liebesman and his editing crew must have been mainlining that stuff morning, noon and night every day the picture was in production. Your eyeballs could get dislocated trying to track the visuals through all the jitterbugging edits.

The question behind this enterprise is, of course: Why? “TMNT” fever seemed to have peaked back in the early ’90s when the original movies were made. Twenty-plus years later, I haven’t detected a clamor for a revival. But revived the titular terrapins are, using motion-capture technology to render the boys big (over 6-feet-tall), bad and bulky.

Renaissance-master-monickered Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo, under the guidance of their wise rat sensei Master Splinter are back in the sewers of New York battling the evil Foot Clan and its armored demon leader, Shredder, in an origin story that requires a whole lot of exposition to explain how cute little pet box turtles were turned into the Turtles in a lab experiment gone awry.

The original movies were crude — Men in rubber suits? Come on! — and the concept engagingly absurd: Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles. Bizarre. But kind of fun.

All the lightheartedness has been drained out of the technologically sophisticated reboot.

If ever there was a movie that should not have been made, this is that movie.

Soren Andersen: asoren7575@yahoo.com



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