A couple of weeks ago, my cousin and I were leaving a movie theater when he saw side-by-side displays of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
“Hey, look at that,” he said. “The two worst movies of the summer, all in one place.”
Then it turned out that “Guardians of the Galaxy” was actually really good, and it made me think there might be a chance for “TMNT” after all.
So in this incarnation of the 30-year-old franchise, Megan Fox stars as April O’Niel, a puff-piece broadcast journalist itching for a real news story. Her reporter instincts are terrible, but somehow she ends up witnessing a robbery by the mysterious and deadly Foot Clan, which is thwarted by a mysterious vigilante.
When her boss (Whoopi Goldberg) doesn’t believe her, April is determined to find proof of the vigilante’s existence. This, somehow, leads her to being part of a group taken hostage by the Foot Clan, but the vigilante appears then, too. But there’s not just one — no, there’s two, three… four! April follows the shadowy figures on top of a roof, where she learns the truth.
The vigilantes are turtles who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers. After meeting Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), April remembers her late father once experimented on a set of turtles with those same names. She recruits her Channel 6 cameraman, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), to help investigate and reaches out to her father’s old lab partner, Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). Meanwhile, the Turtles’ sensei, Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub), urges the Turtles to find and protect April against the evil Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).
As a childhood fan of TMNT, I had three big concerns with this movie: The Turtles looked a little more mean and a little less green than I remembered from my childhood, Michael Bay was producing it and Megan Fox, whose only real talent appears to be looking supa hawt, was cast as one of the strongest female characters in the ’80s cartoon this side of She-Ra.
As it turned out, the Turtles were actually kind of cool. Their personalities were almost stretched to the point of caricature, but in all, they ended up being a good version of “heroes in a half shell.” And anyone worried about the rumors that the Turtles were from space can relax — there was a brief allusion to some kind of extra-terrestrial something in the serum that mutated the turtles, but it was pretty nominal. And Michael Bay was only producing, not directing, so the explosions weren’t totally out of control.
But Megan Fox.
I get that she’s an attractive woman and all, but I don’t understand how that’s supposed to make up for her complete and utter lack of talent. Seriously, she was Tara-Reid-in-Sharknado bad. I’ve seen more convincing performances in a bowl of soup.
There were other offenses, sure — a ridiculous line here, an awkward double-entendre there, a strange and improbable ending — but if I had to go with one thing that really killed it for me, it would be Megan Fox. I mean, she’s never been an Oscar contender, but I don’t remember her being this bad before.
She was so bad I couldn’t concentrate on the rest of the movie. All she did was stand there with this dumb, pouty look on her face. I kept imagining how it must have been on set with the poor director desperately trying to get her to emote.
“No, no, Megan, baby, you’re in mortal danger, so why don’t you try looking scared — OK, seductive, whatever, close enough.”
“Hey, Megan, right here, you’re watching Raphael be pummeled by Shredder, so can you be worried? Fine, whatever, just scream his name real quick and then you can go back to looking seductive.”
At some point some action happened and it was probably pretty cool, but being as Megan Fox was in, like, 90 percent of the movie, it was really tough to take it seriously.
Well, as seriously as anyone can take the Ninja Turtles.