The LEGO® Movie 2 review

THE LEGO MOVIE 2

Director : Mike Mitchell
Cast : Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Richard Ayoade, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell, Jadon Sand, Brooklyn Prince, Noel Fielding
Genre : Animation/Adventure/Fantasy
Run Time : 1 h 47 mins
Opens : 7 February 2019
Rating : PG

It’s been five years since The LEGO® Movie was released, defying expectations by being a movie made to sell toys that was about so much more than just selling toys. In the meantime, the spin-offs The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie have graced the big screens, but The LEGO Movie 2 has plenty to live up to.

The LEGO Movie ended with Bricksburg being invaded by aliens from the Systar System. Five years later, Bricksburg has become ravaged by repeated alien invasions, and is now the wasteland Apocalypseburg. Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is still his cheery self, while the other denizens of Apocalypseburg, including Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie) and Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) have become hardened road warriors.

The latest invasion is led by General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), who captures Lucy, Batman, Unikitty, Metalbeard and Benny the 1980-something Space Guy (Charlie Day). Mayhem takes them back to the shape-shifting alien queen of the Systar System, Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). Emmet travels to outer space to save his friends, and along the way meets Rex Dangervest (also Pratt), a super-cool spacefaring explorer and crime-fighter who is everything Emmet has ever wanted to be. Lucy suspects that Watevra harbours malice, thinking she has brainwashed the others, but there’s more to this conflict than first appears.

The LEGO Movie was a beautifully-made animated film that explored surprisingly sophisticated ideas, benefitting from the gleeful but good-hearted anarchy that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller bring to their projects. The duo remains onboard as screenwriters for the sequel but pass the director’s chair on to Mike Mitchell. The LEGO Movie 2 is an excellent continuation of the first movie’s plot, delivering a different message from the first film but one that’s also clever and slyly subversive.

The first film ended with the revelation that there was a human world beyond the LEGO world and that the film’s story sprung from the imagination of a young boy named Finn (Jadon Sand). Finn’s sister Bianca (Brooklyn Prince) wants to play with him, with her contribution to Finn’s story represented as an alien invasion. This metatextual knowledge informs the audiences’ interpretation of the story, which comments on gendered toys. Toys are generally marketed to boys one way and to girls another way, and there’s a perception that boys and girls play with toys in different ways.

The LEGO Movie 2 also deals with growing up, taking advantage of the five-year gap between films. The desire to be perceived as tough, cool and well, grown-up is reflected in Emmet’s awe at his newfound ally Rex. Emmet’s cheerful optimism is often taken as naivete; he wishes that he could be tougher and cooler because he thinks that’s what Lucy wants of him. The movie comments on masculinity in an astute way – there are some parallels between Emmet and Hiccup, the protagonist of the How to Train Your Dragon Movies, in that both are not traditionally badass heroes. The LEGO Movie 2 addresses why it’s important that Emmet retains the essence of who he is.

Just like in the first film, there’s the sense of imagination running amok without the movie feeling like a mess. There’s a straightforward narrative trajectory and a twist or two towards the end, but there’s a joke every other minute and the film constantly feels alive. The innumerable pop culture references feel organic rather than mechanically slotted in. The animation by Animal Logic is just as dynamic and eye-catching as in the previous LEGO movies. The photo-realistic CGI animation creates the illusion of stop-motion animation and makes each LEGO brick and element feel tactile.

The returning cast is a joy to hear. From Alison Brie’s mix of innocence and rage as Unikitty to Charlie Day’s unbridled, single-minded enthusiasm as Benny, these are eminently loveable characters. Pratt shines in a dual role, with Rex Dangervest riffing on other Pratt roles including Star-Lord from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Owen Grady from the Jurassic World movies and Joshua Faraday from the Magnificent Seven remake (with a possible nod towards Cowboy Ninja Viking, still in development).

Lucy’s character is shaded in a little more, with the indication that her cool, rebellious exterior is an affectation. Will Arnett’s portrayal of Batman as a self-obsessed loner continues to be amusing, with Batman’s own complex figuring heavily into the plot of this film.

Tiffany Haddish is a hot commodity in the movie business after the success of Girls Trip, lending plenty of personality to Watevra, a mercurial force of nature. Stephanie Beatriz voicing a LEGO character is especially rich because she got her signature eyebrow scar from tripping on a LEGO brick at age 10.

The LEGO Movie 2 hits the sweet spot of being a family film that isn’t condescending to kids and isn’t pandering to adults. There’s something for everybody, and it doesn’t feel forced. There’s surprising poignancy to the message at its heart, but it’s also consistently funny and lively. Because it’s a sequel, it doesn’t have the explosive freshness of the first film, but it’s a satisfying and intelligent follow-up that has plenty to offer.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies review

TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES

Director : Peter Rida Michall, Aaron Horvath
Cast : Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Jimmy Kimmel, Halsey, Lil Yachty, Wil Wheaton, Patton Oswalt
Genre : Animation/Comedy
Run Time : 88 mins
Opens : 30 August 2018

Superhero movie saturation has become such a commonplace topic that there now exists a superhero movie specifically about that phenomenon. In Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, the titular DC team of junior superheroes is feeling left out – it seems that everyone, even the obscure likes of the Challengers of the Unknown, is getting their own movie.

This hits Robin (Scott Menville) particularly hard, because his guardian Batman (Jimmy Kimmel) seems to get movie after movie, while he is left in the shadows. Robin’s teammates Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton) and Raven (Tara Strong) try to cheer him up, but to no avail. Robin lobbies film director Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) to make a movie about him.

Deciding that what the team needs is an arch-nemesis to make a compelling movie, the Teen Titans take on Slade (Will Arnett), a dastardly mercenary looking to steal a powerful crystal. In their quest for justice/a movie deal, the Titans run into a variety of other heroes, including Superman (Nicolas Cage), Wonder Woman (Halsey), Green Lantern (Lil Yachty) and The Flash (Wil Wheaton).

There have been many incarnations of the Teen Titans in the comics, arguably the best-known being The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is an extension of the Teen Titans Go! TV series, a comedic spinoff of the 2003 Teen Titans animated series. Teen Titans Go! has long been a bugbear of many fans. Those who grew up on the anime-esque Teen Titans series in the early 2000s consider the parody series to be an affront to their memory of the earlier show. Having grown up on the DC Animated Universe, which began with 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series, this reviewer would argue that while not without many redeeming qualities, the 2003 Teen Titans series was itself a marked step down from the DCAU.

This is a roundabout way of saying that the backlash to Teen Titans Go! mostly stems from a rejection of ‘childishness’ – quite cleverly, this is one of the themes in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. In the film, the Teen Titans are dismissed by the other heroes because they can’t take anything seriously. This is a very silly film about just how silly superhero movies can be. On the surface, it’s all pratfalls, toilet humour and incongruous song and dance numbers. Beneath that, this movie delights in a playful meta deconstruction of superhero movies and their conventions, without losing sight of its primary audience.

The popular public conception of DC media as being darker than that of rival Marvel, sometimes to a self-conscious extent, gets a lot of play. We wish that directors Peter Rida Michall and Aaron Horvath could’ve seen bits of the upcoming live-action TV series Titans, which appears to fundamentally misunderstand the source material, just so the Teen Titans Go! version of Robin could mutter “fudge Batman”. Alas, we must make do with yet another Martha joke.

There’s a Catch-22 here: on the one hand, the detail-light and deliberately cartoony animation style of Teen Titans Go! doesn’t work particularly well on the big screen, especially when compared to the richness and technical wizardry of something like The LEGO Batman Movie. On the other hand, this being a theatrically-released movie is integral to the central premise of the Teen Titans going in search of their own movie.

The central voice cast from Teen Titans Go! and the original Teen Titans series returns, with several celebrities joining them. While notable-ish names from the music world Halsey and Lil Yachty don’t contribute too much, getting Nicolas Cage to voice Superman is a bit of a casting coup. Cage was attached to play Superman in Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, a film which didn’t come to fruition and is now legend among comic book movie fans.

Will Arnett, who voiced Batman in The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, voices Slade, and just like everyone else involved, sounds like he’s having the greatest time. There are several cameos which will elicit a chuckle or two.

Fans of comics and related media are often afraid of being perceived as childish, because of the long-held stigma that people who read comics or collect toys are socially mal-adjusted. While that appears to be changing, there’s still a fear of embracing silliness within the genre, which has led to overcompensating with ‘grimdark’ takes on the source material. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies examines this in a surprisingly nimble way. This reviewer still isn’t sure that it works amazingly on the big screen, especially in a summer which has given us Incredibles 2, but if you’re willing to let loose for a bit and not take yourself too seriously, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is worth a look.

Stick around for a stinger after the main-on-end titles.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

The Lego Batman Movie

For F*** Magazine

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

Director : Chris McKay
Cast : (Voice Cast) Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Mariah Carey, Billy Dee Williams
Genre : Action/Animation
Run Time : 1h 45min
Opens : 9 February 2017
Rating : PG

the-lego-batman-movie-posterHe puts the ‘bat’ in ‘brickbat’ and serves as a stumbling block to Gotham City’s evildoers: he is Lego Batman (Arnett). When the Joker (Galifianakis) leads a collection of Batman’s rogues gallery in an assault on Gotham, Batman is confident that he alone can take them on. Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Elizondo), whose primary job has been activating the Bat-signal to summon Batman, retires. Replacing Gordon is his daughter Barbara (Dawson), who calls attention to Batman’s inefficacy in keeping Gotham’s streets crime-free, much to Batman’s chagrin. Alfred Pennyworth (Fiennes), loyal butler to Batman/Bruce Wayne, sees Batman’s self-aggrandizement as a façade. After accidentally adopting orphan Dick Grayson (Cera), Bruce must learn that relying on others in the face of overwhelming odds isn’t a sign of weakness, eventually teaming up with Robin/Dick Grayson, Alfred and Batgirl/Barbara Gordon to face an other-worldly threat.

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The Lego Batman Movie is a spin-off of 2014’s The Lego Movie, and is directed by Chris McKay, who served as an animation co-director on The Lego Movie. McKay has also directed multiple episodes of Robot Chicken, the stop-motion sketch comedy series which lampoons comics, cartoons and other aspects of geek culture. The Lego Batman Movie is reminiscent of Robot Chicken in its style of humour, which is heavily reference-based, albeit more kid-friendly than Robot Chicken. There are shout-outs to elements both well-known and obscure of the DC Comics universe and beyond, which are rewarding to spot. However, since this is based on a line of toys and primarily made to sell toys, there are moments when it’s evident that The Lego Batman Movie struggles to strike a balance between appealing to geeks and appealing to children.

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The animation by Animal Logic Studios is done in the same style as The Lego Movie, which emulates stop-motion animation using computer graphics. Each frame bursts with lovingly-rendered detail and the film is consistently eye-catching, if not quite as creatively designed as The Lego Movie. This version of the Batcave is delightfully outlandish, packed with needlessly extravagant machinery and containing a ludicrous number of vehicles with a ‘Bat’ prefix in their names. Of the various and sundry modes of transportation utilised by the Dark Knight in this movie, something called ‘the Scuttler’ is the most interesting. It’s a mecha that walks on four stilt-like legs and expresses emotion with dog-like ears which can droop to indicate sadness.

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There is a Batman for all seasons, and part of the character’s longevity is his malleability. The Lego Batman Movie does a fine job of gently poking fun at various incarnations of the Caped Crusader, from the 1966 TV show to the 1989 film to the recent Batman v Superman. At times, it’s evident that this wants to be Deadpool for Juniors, the film begins with Batman breaking the fourth wall and providing voiceover as the opening logos roll. Arnett’s performance, impeccable in its timing and just the right pitch of gruff, suits the tone of the film to a tee. Fiennes’ drolly prim and proper Alfred serves as a wonderful complement.

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Galifianakis’ turn as the Joker is passable, but is far from the high bar set by Mark Hamill, whose indelible vocal performance as the Clown Prince of Crime has made him the definitive voice of the Joker in many fans’ eyes (make that ears). The film addresses the psychosexual nature of Joker and Batman’s mutual obsession with the other, which Batman vehemently denies. Jenny Slate’s Harley Quinn is a slight disappointment, largely lacking the character’s signature Brooklyn accent.

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While Batman’s rogues gallery is generally agreed on as being the most dynamic in all of comics, these villains don’t make too much of an impact in The Lego Batman Movie. Sure, the film crams a lot of them in, but the likes of Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Poison Ivy (Riki Lindhome), Clayface (Kate Miccuci), Mr. Freeze and anyone who isn’t the Joker seem relegated to the background. It is fun to see D-listers like Condiment King and Kite-Man onscreen. Bane (Doug Benson) speaks in the same accent Tom Hardy affected for The Dark Knight Rises, even more amusing given how Bane was quoted in a certain inaugural address.

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One of the funniest aspects of the story is how Bruce Wayne adopts Dick Grayson completely by accident. The interpretation of Dick as a wide-eyed, bespectacled dork is a departure from the source material, but Cera’s inherent awkwardness as a performer suits this version fine. This reviewer enjoyed the changes made to the Barbara Gordon character, who is introduced as her father’s successor as Police Commissioner long before she dons the Batgirl costume. Batman has romantic designs on Batgirl – this is a pairing which many fans understandably find icky, and was a major factor in the backlash against the animated film The Killing Joke. Thankfully, Barbara does not reciprocate Bruce’s advances. The stunt casting of Mariah Carey as Mayor MacCaskill is completely unnecessary – but perhaps this can be viewed as akin to the celebrity cast on the ’66 Batman TV show.

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The Lego Batman Movie’s final act does involve a giant portal opening up in the sky, unleashing destruction that the townsfolk must scurry away from. There are some surprises as to who or what emerges from said portal, but even given that, it’s easy to tune out during the climactic battle. There’s an overreliance on incongruous pop ditties and not all the jokes land, but things are funny and frenetic enough to propel The Lego Batman Movie forward.

Summary: The Lego Batman movie prizes reference-based humour over plot, but even if it doesn’t use the Lego Batman world to its full comic potential, it’s an entertaining time.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

For F*** Magazine

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Director : David Green
Cast : Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Gary Anthony Williams, Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly, Brad Garrett, Brittany Ishibashi, Laura Linney, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub
Genre : Action/Adventure
Run Time : 1 hr 52 mins
Opens : 2 June 2016
Rating : PG (Some Violence)

The world’s most fearsome fighting team has returned to fend off threats old and new – and now, they’re at least a little frustrated that they can’t take credit for it. The brothers Leonardo (Ploszek), Raphael (Ritchson), Michelangelo (Fisher) and Donatello (Howard) have remained in the shadows after defeating Shredder (Tee) a year ago, knowing they will be branded as monsters and reviled. Instead, former cameraman Vern Fenwick (Arnett) is getting all the glory as a New York hero. April O’Neil (Fox) discovers that scientist Baxter Stockman (Perry) is in cahoots with Shredder. After helping Shredder escape from custody, Stockman helps him create mutants of his own: warthog Bebop (Williams) and rhinoceros Rocksteady (Sheamus). Adding to the imminent danger is the alien Krang (Garrett), who plans to open a portal above New York to invade our world. It’s a good thing then that April and the Turtles have a new ally in the form of Casey Jones (Amell), corrections officer by day, hockey stick-wielding vigilante by night.

            2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was not exactly well-received by critics or fans, but a follow-up was inevitable. This time, Dave Green (Earth to Echo) has replaced Jonathan Liebesman in the director’s chair, though the lack of a discernible difference is a sign that the producers, led by Michael Bay, have a particularly strong hand in the proceedings. The tone and style remains pretty much the same from the 2014 movie, with the incorporation of fan-favourite characters and elements of Turtleslore in the hope of winning back the shellheads who were spurned by the previous outing. It’s hard to criticise something like this for being ‘silly’, since it can be argued that the silliness is intentional. However, Out of the Shadows frequently crosses the line from ‘silly’ to ‘stupid’. As we said in our review of the previous movie, Guardians of the Galaxydemonstrated how to do an exuberantly tongue-in-cheek sci-fi action flick loaded with pop culture references while not being embarrassingly juvenile. Guardians of the Galaxy, this most certainly is not.

            The Turtles’ designs haven’t grown on us, we’ve just gotten a little less bothered by it over time. The computer-generated characters are integrated into the live-action environments nicely enough and the visual effects work, while sometimes conspicuous, is generally good. The interpretations of Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang do look acceptable. The action sequences will entertain younger viewers and the involvement of second unit director/stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos (the Fast and Furious movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) is a plus. However, nothing strikes us as particularly memorable and the climax with aliens invading New York is quite the yawn, at once too similar to the conclusion of the 2014 movie and to the ending of The Avengers – not to mention any other movie in which extra-terrestrial invaders have seized the Big Apple.

            Perhaps the most positive thing about this film, as with its immediate predecessor, is that our heroes have fun saving the day. Sure, Raph is prone to brooding, but on the whole, they enjoy saving the day and at least a little bit of that is infectious. Characterisation remains paper-thin – the conflict that brews between the brothers is predictable, as is its eventual resolution. While they are sufficiently distinct from each other, not much of an attempt is made to flesh these characters out. It sounds absurd to ask for depth from TMNT, but several of the cartoons, including the current show on Nickelodeon, have succeeded in giving the characters personalities past the single-line descriptions from the theme song.

            Fox remains a poor choice for the role of April O’Neil, and while it is a silly thing to whine about, the character doesn’t even have her signature red hair. There’s a lot of unnecessary leering at Fox and the abbreviated school girl get-up she dons early in the film is a cringe-worthy moment of fan-service. Even the most ardent fans of Arrow would be hard-pressed to deny that Amell isn’t a particularly skilled actor, and his turn as Casey Jones is pretty stiff when the character should be effortlessly cool. He does handle the action beats well, having years of playing a comic book hero under his belt. Perry hams it up as Baxter Stockman, playing him as little more than the, well, stock dweeby scientist. Perry ignores anything interesting about the character, instead becoming yet another comic relief sidekick. It’s also not like he needs the money. Finally, it is truly disheartening to see three-time Oscar nominee Laura Linney absolutely slumming it here.

            Several of the casting changes are nominal improvements – Brian Tee steps in for Tohoru Masamune as Shredder while Brittany Ishibashi replaces Minae Noji as his chief henchwoman Karai. Alas, Shredder does very little and Karai even less.William Fichtner was set to reprise his role as Eric Sacks, though it appears his scenes have been left on the cutting room floor. If you’re able to either overlook or revel in the childishness that runs through most of the movie, it is occasionally entertaining. However, if your tolerance for clunky dialogue, embarrassing jokes and generic action is particularly low, Out of the Shadows will try your patience to no end.



Summary: About on par with the 2014 film, Out of the Shadows is immensely silly and difficult to get into, but its titular heroes are intermittently endearing and the introduction of key players from the comics and cartoons is a half-step in the right direction.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Jedd Jong 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

For F*** Magazine

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 

Director : Jonathan Liebesman
Cast : Megan Fox, Alan Ritchson, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Mos Def, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Woodburn
Genre : Action, Adventure
Opens : 7 August 2014
Rating : PG (Some Violence)
Running time: 102 mins

Originally created as a one-off parody by comic book artists/writers Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became an unlikely pop culture phenomenon in the 80s and 90s. This film marks their first live-action big screen appearance since 1993.

Leader Leonardo (Ploszek/Knoxville), hot-headed Raphael (Ritchson), jokester Michelangelo (Fisher) and tech wiz Donatello (Howard) are the titular reptiles. Once ordinary box turtles, they were mutated into giant, intelligent humanoid creatures thanks to a laboratory experiment known as Project Renaissance. Their “father” and sensei Master Splinter (Woodburn/Shalhoub), a mutated rat, was also born from the same experiment. Reporter April O’Neil (Fox) discovers the existence of the turtles as they fight back against the militant Foot Clan, led by an armour-clad warlord named The Shredder (Masamune). The turtles befriend O’Neil and they work in tandem to bring down the Shredder and his partner in crime, industrialist Eric Sachs (Fichtner). Sachs’ plan? To engulf New York in a biochemical attack launched from his tower smack dab in downtown Manhattan.


Many kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s hold TMNT very dear, the 1987 animated series still a pop culture staple. As such, shellheads understandably seized upon this new iteration. Everything was troubling, from the revised extra-terrestrial-linked origins to the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neil to the drastic re-designs to Michael Bay in the producer’s chair. Throughout the film, one gets the sense that director Jonathan Liebesman and producer Bay are smugly going “see fanboys? William Fichtner isn’t Shredder after all. They aren’t exactly aliens. Nothing to worry about, we got it all 100% right!” Well, of course they didn’t, but there is just enough in Turtles ‘14 for some to consider it a sufficiently enjoyable ride. 


The new origin story has shades of The Amazing Spider-Man and, perhaps not coincidentally, the climactic action sequences of both movies take place atop the Condé Nast Building. Thankfully, the defining personality traits of each of the four turtles have been preserved, even though they are often played up to unnecessary extents. Michelangelo doesn’t have to spend the entirety of the film leering at April, does he?  The new looks for the turtles are quite over-designed, not unlike how the Transformers are in the live-action film series. They are hulking, top-heavy, loaded with accoutrements such as shell necklaces, sunglasses and communications backpacks and have unsettling noses and lips. The turtles are meant to be endearing if not downright cute. Here, their appearances are just disturbing. The character animation on the turtles is often dynamic but lacks the photo-realism just put on display in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Some may argue that the versions designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in the 1990 film look dated and silly today. You can rest assured that by 2038, the designs of these turtles will look even more ridiculous than they already do. Shredder comes off poorly too, looking like he was designed by a 12-year-old exclaiming “the more knives, the scarier he’ll be! More knives, more knives!”


Megan Fox is a self-proclaimed TMNT fan and actively pursued the part of April O’Neil, but that does not change the fact that she is woefully miscast. Fox’s acting range is as limited as ever and her eyes seem disconcertingly dead. Malina Weissman, who portrays Young April in flashback scenes, acts better than Fox does. Jane Levy, Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Olsen were considered before Fox got the part – any of those actresses would’ve been a better fit. The yellow jacket is a nice visual reference to O’Neil’s original costume though. Arnett provides hit-and-miss comic relief as the tagalong cameraman Vern and Minae Noji goes all dragon lady as Karai. William Fichtner hams it way up as Eric Sachs. He’s a dab hand at playing slimy villains but fails to make much of an impact as the baddie here, saddled with such lines as “time to take a bite out of the big apple”.

            On the plus side, the film’s 101 minute running time is way easier to stomach than the 165 minute duration of Transformers: Age of Extinction. The action sequences are also more coherent and entertaining here and an extended chase down a snowy slope involving rocket snowboards, an avalanche and a jack-knifing semi-truck is actually quite impressive. That sequence also contains some neat 3D effects. While some of the jokes are annoying, several do land. This reviewer enjoyed a bit in which Michelangelo attempts to serenade April with an off-key rendition of Happy Together – which, of course, was sung by 60s group the Turtles. The film also has a sweet flashback sequence showing the turtles as babies under Splinter’s care and we get a quaint stop motion-style time-lapse image of the turtles growing up.


            In spite of the violence and sexual references, this movie is a whole lot less inappropriate for children than the Transformers films and can be considered a passable action adventure flick for tweens. It should also be some small comfort that the characters of Leo, Mikey, Donnie and Raph haven’t actually been butchered past recognition (even if their appearances have been). It’s silly, but a film called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has every right to be. That said, Guardians of the Galaxy does the irreverent, pop culture-referencing, action-comedy thing with a whole lot more wit, heart and style.
Summary: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has its moments but on the whole, it’s still lagging behind a good number of other blockbusters this summer.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Jedd Jong