Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

(Netflix Streaming, November 2015) I did not expect much from this latest eponymous effort to revive the Turtles for the big screen: I’ve never been a big fan of the TMNT comic books, TV show or toys, and the various attempts to make a big-screen franchise out of them over the years are starting to look desperate.  This latest version bets heavily on special effects to create computer-animated versions of the turtles set against a live-action New York.  Much of it is almost instantly forgettable, except for a surprisingly good action sequence set on a snowy mountain (conveniently located near New York).  Director Jonathan Liebesman is most at easy handling big action spectacles, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a big truck sliding down a snow-covered incline, with ninja turtles jumping all over the place in an effort to do something fairly trivial.  It’s the sole (but significant) highlight of a film that otherwise doesn’t manage to make different characters out of its amphibian heroes, nor make much out of its human characters (as nice as it can be to see Megan Fox on-screen again.)  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’s tone is resolutely juvenile despite half-hearted attempt at fake grittiness, and ILM’s top-notch special effects work doesn’t quite manage to keep things interesting outside the action sequences.  Having no real reason to exist except to sell toys and reboot a franchise of undistinguishable films. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seems to exemplify the worst in contemporary blockbuster filmmaking: so much effort for so little results, forgotten as soon as the next such effort makes it to the big screens.  My low expectations weren’t even partially met.

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