Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an action adventure that should appeal to children, although older viewers may desire more from the narrative.

Reporter April O’Neill is determined to get meatier stories. With the rise of the Foot Clan criminal gang, April is lead to four mysterious crime fighters who live in the sewers beneath New York…

Based on the 1980s cartoon series and 1990s spin-off films, this version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is for a new generation. Whilst there are nods to earlier incarnations, it seems as if director Jonathan Liebesman and his team of screenwriters are intending to create a new realm for a young audience.

The narrative of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offers nothing particularly original. The film is a by-the-numbers action adventure, with an origins story which unfolds as the film progresses. The twist in the film is predictable, and in fact there is little that occurs that viewers will not expect.

Characterisation in the film is stark to differentiate between the four turtles. A consequence of this is that they are rendered caricatures by this requirement to make them distinct. Elsewhere, Shredder is a one-dimensional villain, and April is earnest but hollow.

Dialogue in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is simply catchphrases and plot exposition. Some of the jokes may provoke a smirk, but there will be few who find the humour consistently funny. The film also feels like it goes on for too long. The chase sequence, for example, feels unnecessary; another set piece to pad out the film in lieu of plot.

Special effects in the film are seamless. Megan Fox does an adequate job as April O’Neill, whilst Will Arnett needed better lines as comic foil Vernon.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seems squarely aimed at a young audience, rather than aiming to engage fans of the original series. One for younger viewers.

Film Review: Wrath of the Titans

As titans clashing in 2010 clearly was not enough, this time audiences feel the titans’ wrath. Jonathan Liebesman’s film is predictable fare, but watchable nevertheless.

Following Perseus’ defeat of the Kracken, the demigod is living a simple fisherman’s life while raising his son. When Zeus calls upon him, Perseus is initially reluctant. Perseus soon springs into action, however, when Zeus is held prisoner and humanity is threatened…

Wrath of the Titans is a sufficiently entertaining film, although the missteps are visible. The main narrative strand is fine, but not overly gripping or original. The theme of loyalty and bonds in the father-son relationship is overplayed throughout the film. It is really hammered in, when some less obvious allusions would have worked better.

Additional strands are either weak or unnecessary. The role of Agenor is unusual, as the character is not as crucial as his build up would suggest. Perhaps the screenwriters should be applauded for this small misdirection. Andromeda, however, is completely surplus to requirements in the quest portion of the film. Her role is extraneous for the most part, in fact. There is no real indicator of love interest between her and Perseus.

Other characters in the film are often one dimensional, partly in the case of the gods. The mythology employed and adapted by Wrath of the Titans is rich. Perhaps the screenwriters could have utilised this further, illustrating the power and limitations of the gods. The film seems to go back and forth in this respect, with a lack of set principles.

The effects are good overall. Sound works particularly well throughout the film. The style of filming does not work for the best interests of the action sequences, however. The very fast camera movement makes it difficult to ascertain what is happening at times. Viewing Wrath of the Titans in Imax can emphasise this. Ghosting in this ratio can also be a problem. Thankfully, the 3D is far superior to the first movie.

Performances in the film are adequate. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes knowingly ham it up, which make their scenes amusing. Sam Worthington plays the action hero in a suitable fashion. The accents in Wrath of the Titans are a bit of a mystery, with a variety of British dialects apparent, among others.

Some of the silliness makes the film more entertaining. Wrath of the Titans occasionally lets its humour override the solemnity of proceedings, and is all the better for it.

Film Review: Battle: Los Angeles

As an two-hour long advertisement for the US marines, Battle: Los Angeles is excellent. As a feature film, not so much.

Veteran marine Michael Nantz is ready to retire after a long and distinguished career. The day after he makes his intentions clear, major cities around the world come under attack from an unknown entity. Squad sergeant Nantz and his team must battle against the alien attackers to save Los Angeles…

Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle: Los Angeles features all of the standard conventions of an apocalyptic/alien attack movie. There is little innovation in any aspect of the film. The pacing is uneven; there are several false endings and the film lasts longer than it should. Although the movie centres on an alien attack, little is revealed about the extraterrestrials. Instead, Battle: Los Angeles concentrates on the near relentless action.

Writer Chris Bertolini injects his script with all the usual clichés. At its worse, the film is an embarrassment of cringe-worthy dialogue. Nantz’s speeches to his men are riddled with the overblown sentiment of a Michael Bay film. Likewise, while Bertolini strives for heartfelt with the confabulating of Hector’s father Joe, the result is more nauseating than anything else.

The characters in Battle: Los Angles fulfill the usual archetypes for the style of film. Nantz is at first the reluctant hero, coming into his stride as the film progresses. He is the all-American hero; putting the lives of his team before his own, and saving the civilians at any cost. Within his team, none of the characters particularly stand out. Lockett is the familiar good guy with a chip on his shoulder, while Santos is the token female.

Special effects are pretty decent, although there is minimal detailed footage of the alien invaders. The sound is bombastic; with all the explosions, gunfire and helicopter sounds, there is barely a moment’s peace in Battle: Los Angeles. Camera work combines the rough, hand-held style of Cloverfield with the veneer of a Roland Emmerich movie.

Aaron Eckhart is a talented actor, so it is a mystery as to why he plumped for this script. Elsewhere, performances are fine overall; it is the dialogue rather than the delivery that is the problem. Michelle Rodriguez plays her usual tough girl role, while Ne-Yo’s foray into movies is not much of a test.

The stock heroics, familiar perilous situations, and the little children to rescue are all present in the film. The only thing missing is the dog. Audiences may be better off re-watching Independence Day or any of its ilk as Battle: Los Angeles offers nothing new.