Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Review
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If you believed that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was your favorite anime of the year, you might need to reconsider. That’s at least how one movie website reviewed Paramount Pictures’ new film, Ninja Turtles: Mutant Chaos, which has recently hit theaters. As I sit here a few hours after the screening, I find myself shaking my head, wondering if the poor dubbing truly marred my experience to such an extent, or if they showed a different movie altogether, or perhaps others have a higher tolerance for dealing with incredibly pubescent teenagers than I do. Honestly, I’m not sure. Despite my initial excitement, I ended up rather disappointed by this quirky turtle performance.

Let’s start with the positive aspects. I genuinely enjoyed the original animation style; it seems like a fusion of hand-drawn comics and punk sketches in the notebook of a shy yet immensely talented high schooler, with a color palette consisting entirely of shades of toxic green. Furthermore, the mutant theme resonates throughout the film, allowing the creators to unleash their creativity in designing unique monsters. While some might be familiar (Rocksteady and Bebop are as cool as ever), others are more obscure and peculiar. Nonetheless, they all fit seamlessly into the movie and receive adequate screen time. At the center of the action are the turtles themselves, with their origin story being narrated in the film. Understandably, they received a significant amount of attention, particularly in the well-executed action scenes.

This brings me to the second aspect I’d like to commend: the action sequences. They are genuinely impressive, featuring excellent choreography and often accompanied by fitting music. Additionally, the film boasts an unexpectedly abundant amount of action, which helps mitigate the shortcomings and contributes to overcoming the less appealing parts. These action scenes display creativity and a sense of internal logic. Despite the fact that the four main heroes lack combat experience at the outset, their battles still feel engaging and show gradual improvement over time. Moreover, a thematic framework revolves around the four young turtles—Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo—longing to integrate into human society while dealing with their own fears of being mutants. This theme is interwoven with the motivations of not only the main characters but also Master Splinter, the villain, and eventually the school reporter April O’Neil.

The narrative places significant emphasis on portraying humans as the antagonists, while mutants are depicted as misunderstood and well-intentioned beings seeking acceptance. This contrast is accentuated by the fact that all human characters in the film are depicted as unattractive, except for April, who decides to aid the turtles and is presented as “pretty” (albeit not conforming to the typical model standard). Overall, the film explicitly explains its themes and messages, likely aiming to appeal to younger audiences. However, I’m uncertain if they will resonate as strongly with the intended demographic. The script deliberately simplifies numerous aspects, making it challenging to compare this film to Spider-Man. While both are animated, they follow divergent paths.

Whereas Spider-Man delves into complex human themes that resonate due to mature storytelling, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles primarily focuses on the adolescent escapades and aspirations of a group of outsiders. While this approach may have immediate impact, it lacks a lasting impression on the viewer. Furthermore, despite the potential for this to be top-tier entertainment under different circumstances, the creators’ attempt to cater to teenage sensibilities seems forced. The initial goofiness of the main plot is enjoyable for a brief period but becomes tedious, occasionally veering into embarrassment. This is exacerbated by the dubbing, which struggles to translate numerous pop culture references into equivalent Czech alternatives that often fall flat. For instance, one character complains about not being as popular as a local celebrity, Vojta Dyk.

Regrettably, the aforementioned issues persist for much of the film, although they are replaced by a captivating climax with a remarkable escalation akin to kaiju films. In the final moments, emotional chords are struck, and the ending, along with a post-credits scene, hints at a movie that I’d genuinely want to see. It’s unfortunate that this was preceded by roughly an hour of cringe-inducing moments. I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from watching it in theaters—I won’t do that. I still believe that, alongside the original 90s series and live-action films, which hold a special place in my heart, this adaptation remains the most successful and faithful rendition of the comic material. Certainly an improvement over recent attempts. The stylization, although subtle, is notable, and the soundtrack by the Reznor/Ross duo easily ranks among the best I’ve heard in cinema this year. However, I’d be dishonest if I claimed that

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