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September 20, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014

Megan Fox and her reptilian sidekicks

By Sandie Angulo Chen
Special to The Washington Post (*)

Some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles devotees may be appeased by Paramount’s fairly faithful film reboot of their beloved reptilian superheroes. But more are likely to be disappointed to discover that the talking Turtles have been reduced to sidekicks to the actual focus of this film: summer-movie sexpot Megan Fox.

The film opens with an engaging, animated prologue that retells the legend of the sewer-dwelling, genetically modified turtles and their rat sensei, Splinter (voice of Tony Shalhoub. Then it switches to 20 minutes of Fox, who as television news reporter April O’Neil desperately tries to convince her incredulous boss (Whoopi Goldberg) she’s got proof of vigilantes battling Shredder’s goons.

When April finally has her first full run-in with the mysterious crime fighters, she faints, but not before she hears the Turtles call out their Renaissance names (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo) and squeak, “She’s so hot! I can feel my shell is tightening!”

And that’s part of the problem with the movie. Although the character of April was attractive in earlier Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles iterations, it’s disappointing that she’s overly sexualized in this installment.

Director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles) knows how to highlight ILM’s performance-capture technology, which makes the Turtles’ movements so realistic. Liebesman lets the Turtles shine as they kick, jump and parry in various large-scale action sequences. Unfortunately, even during crowd-pleasing thrills, the comic relief once again circles back to the script’s favourite topic: April’s sex appeal.

Production notes

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (USA, 2014). Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. With: Megan Fox, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard. Cinematography by Lula Carvalho. Running time: 101 minutes.

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