Simple carbohydrates are not good for turtles, but young April thinks she's doing them a service in the form of a "treat" when she feeds them pizza. We see this in a flashback to her childhood, as she hangs out in her scientist father's lab, tampering with the test subjects. (Turtles are the new lab rats, but there is also a lab rat.) She loves these turtles so much that when she saves them and that one rat from a fire in the lab, she promptly dumps her "pets" into the sewer. Some savior. Why would she do that? April, you see, is a bit of a mess.
I kind of love that about her, and that Megan Fox's taking on this disaster of a role can be read as a slight nod to her mess of a career. She is not particularly good in this particularly bad movie, but she busts out an endearing deadpan self-awareness when the script allows.
In modern day, April is a J-school graduate who's stuck doing lifestyle reporting in a market as major as New York, but still she wants more. So when she witnesses vigilante resistance to a gang that is terrorizing the city, the Foot Clan, she has her opportunity to file the story that will make her the hard-news journalist she so desperately wants to be. But then it turns out that the vigilante is, in fact, four vigilantes, and they're giant, talking, martial-arts practicing turtles. Everyone gets kind of distracted, including the screenwriters, and April's job becomes a footnote to turtle power.
The action gets going when April reunites with the turtles, after they have mutated and grown into hulking pro-wrestler types. After listening to April describe the turtles she wants to report on, her boss, played by Whoopi Goldberg, says, "So they're aliens?" "No," says Fox with a straight face. "That would be stupid." It made me think that Fox would be really good in a barely tolerable spoof of the Wayans Brothers-variety.
That self-awareness is just occasionally sprinkled on this second TMNT reboot directed by Wrath of the Titans' Jonathan Liebesman. Said rebooting comes only in the form of fine tuning. The action is a bit beefed up, and the colors are slightly bolder and more cartoonish in a Batman Forever way this time around. Instead of men in rubber suits, the turtles are CGI. I guess our heroes (if we want to claim them as such) are a bit grittier than they were in the first movie, which came out in 1990 (which is total dogshit, but somehow still accurately captures how fucking insufferable it can be to hang out in a room full of teenage boys). Perhaps that grit falls in line with the original spirit of the comics, or so I was told many years ago by someone who had read them (I haven't).
It's really hard to go from Guardians of the Galaxy last week to this. Maybe Guardians was too winky for some, but at least it tried really hard to be smart and tell us jokes we hadn't heard before. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just does not try. At one point, Raphael gets thrown up against a wall and Michelangelo responds, "That's harsh, man." Great joke, helpful audience guidance. Imploring him to drive fast, Raphael tells April's cameraman, played by Will Arnett (just killing it, that guy), "Yeah, I'm a talking turtle. And you're a human nerd. Now that we've got that out of the way, hit it!" It's so limp, it's like the script has been flipped over on its shell for too long. However, it could be that the film's producers are banking on nostalgia: When one turtle said, "Cowabunga," the audience broke into applause.
Still, this is a movie that thinks its audience is dumb. Since it is also a toy commercial, that may be a smart assumption. The plot holes are glaring. Why doesn't April show Whoopi (an actress beloved by a nation full of young, View-watching boys) the clear picture of the turtles that she snapped, as she is pleading her case to both cover this story and keep her job? After she is fired, she shows it to her father's former partner and blatantly evil mogul Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). Her trust in him only further underlines her incompetence as a truth-seeker.
Why do previously unbreakable glass walls shatter like sheets of sugar once the captive turtles get adrenalin boosts? How does a climactic scene, which involves the turtles and April falling about a hundred stories in a big tower, end without scratches on any of these creatures? Did April just give up on her career midway through the movie when the turtles came along and distracted her and apparently the screenwriters?
Did Megan Fox have a facelift?
I know she's 28 (or that's the official word), but she has total Madonnaface:
The texture of her skin, in the movie, is somewhere between a peach and a Ninja Turtle. She looked CGI. I found this about as mesmerizing as a legitimately exciting scene in which the turtles and a big rig slide down a snow-covered mountain. In it, Raphael complains of a broken shell, but then he uses it as a sled and ever speaks of it again.
What a dumb movie! Still, there is nothing in it that is quite as embarrassing as this scene in the 1990 original:
[There was a video here]
However, it is nowhere nearly as good as this footage of an actual turtle eating pizza:
But I still don't think that turtles should be eating carbs.