For devoted Turtles fans, that may be enough. The boys eat a lot of pizza, get scolded by their sensei, and perform a whole lot of kung-fu. When they aren’t arguing over who should be in charge or which of them did the most stupid thing, they’re joking around with one another. If anything can save this movie for the nonfan, it’s probably the banter between the brothers. The one-liners and sarcastic quips are fairly nonstop no matter what else is going on, and the majority of them actually work. And let’s face it, along with the chop-socky action, isn’t that what everyone always tuned into the Turtles for anyway? From what I remember, the plots were incidental as long as the green-skinned good guys were kicking butt and cracking wise.
I guess I could be a bit harder on the film if I wanted, but what would be the point? "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is a zero-calories kind of movie. There’s nothing blatantly unhealthy for you in the film, no hidden political agendas being promoted (I’m looking at you "Maleficent") or anything like that. Even all the choreographed destruction never rises above the level of the "A-Team." Guns are fired, swords are brandished, and bombs explode, but I don’t remember anyone ever actually dying on screen. On the other hand, there’s nothing particularly beneficial either, no surprising bit of heart ("Guardians of the Galaxy") or unexpected uplifting message ("The Lego Movie"). "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" has to be one of the most intrinsically neutral films I’ve seen in a while.
I suppose, like all such things, it all depends on what you do with it. If you’ve haven’t taken in this summer’s better movies yet and you decide to watch this one instead, well, shame on you. But if you need something to kill a few hours with the kids on a Saturday afternoon and you’ve already seen everything else, by all means, knock yourself out guilt free. The kids will most likely get a kick out of the Turtles, and you might just as well.
In a world he didn’t create, in a time he didn’t choose, one man looks for signs of God in the world by… watching movies. When he’s not reviewing new releases for Aleteia, David Ives spends his time exploring the intersection of low-budget/cult cinema and Catholicism at The B-Movie Catechism.