Take a look at Jonathan Liebesman’s filmography – Wrath of the Titans, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning – and ask yourself, how does this guy keep getting handed the keys to giant franchises? His effort to revive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the umpteenth time is dead on arrival, a ghost of previous incarnations puffed up with cringeworthy modern ‘tude.
The plot is like a patchwork of moments from recent blockbusters: everyone is connected by an incident in their past, the heroes have magic blood, the bad guy is planning an act of terrorism, and so on. You can practically feel producer Michael Bay lurking behind the camera, encouraging tilt-angle shots of Megan Fox from behind and dubbing in as many crude one-liners as possible.
In their efforts to make the titular turtles ‘realistic’, the filmmakers have come up with a look that’s downright ugly, with Splinter the rat and his dead eyes approaching horrific. The effects work is top-notch, seamlessly integrating these CGI characters into their environments, but it’s all so banal none of it really registers as eye candy.
Acting-wise, Fox does just fine with what she’s given, and Will Arnett comes out ok but it’s a bummer seeing him deliver jokes this godawful. Also Whoopi Goldberg pops up for some reason.
It’d be easier to give TMNT a pass if it was aiming purely for goofy fun, but it keeps taking itself so damn seriously. A movie spawned from nostalgia and focus groups, it’s a green-brown CGI smear you’ll want to wipe from your memory as soon as possible.