'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles': What the Critics Are Saying

5:00 AM PST 08/08/2014 by Marion Kirkpatrick, Ashley Lee

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, "TMNT" stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Danny Woodburn, Abby Elliott, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek and Alan Ritchson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, out on Friday, marks the long-awaited return of Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and their plucky human companion April O’Neil (Megan Fox). The film is produced by TransformersMichael Bay, directed by Jonathan Liebesman and also features appearances by Whoopi GoldbergWill Arnett and more.

Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' $125 million reboot is tracking strong among families despite being rated PG-13 and hopes to benefit from a new TMNT television show. It is expected to open in the $40 million to $45 million range (in its second weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy has a shot at the same.)

Read what top critics are saying about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

The Hollywood Reporter’s film critic Justin Lowe writes in his review that the film’s screenwriters "devote a substantial amount of time to setting up April’s investigation of the mystery vigilantes, which results in a frustrating delay before the turtles finally appear onscreen. Extensive use of flashbacks and explanatory dialogue that reveal her lifelong connection with the mutants also have a dilatory effect (while laying groundwork for future sequels), but provide an authentic account of the turtles’ origins while keeping the humor pitched at an appropriately juvenile level."

Lowe also laments that "not much of that easygoing style rubs off on the human characters." He explains, "Fox spends much of the movie acting bewildered as April tries to keep up with rapidly shifting plot developments ... Arnett has the only role that comes close to matching the turtles’ verve, but doesn’t get enough time onscreen to create a lasting impression."

The New York TimesNicolas Rapold is even more unimpressed: "This new adventure is executed so ordinarily, and with such tunnel vision, that it feels homogenized. ... A certain kind of discipline and experience is at work here: It’s no accident that the action and dialogue seem blandly cartoonish, as if the moviemakers wanted to keep everything easy for all ages to follow. Attached to this movie, the title no longer sounds zany; it looks like a series of keywords."

"Devotees may be appeased ... 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 Fox," says The Washington Post’s Sandie Angulo Chen. "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 (if predictable) that she’s overly sexualized in this installment. ... Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by such fare from producer Bay, but the character — not to mention young viewers of this Nickelodeon co-production — deserve better."

The New York Daily NewsJoe Neumaier finds the characters least compelling of all. "They’re hideous, monstrous-looking things — kind of like baby Hulks — and they’re hard to root for. Created by motion-capture technology (instead of guys in suits), they’re unappealing and thinly drawn," he writes in his zero-star review. "Fox, when not involved in the messy action scenes, stares ahead vacant-eyed. Adults will, too, since this film is to better superhero movies as a Filet-O-Fish is to quality seafood. Kids may find the movie’s tie-in toys to be much more fun."

"Utterly inessential, this slightly cheap-looking reboot of the Turtles franchise is froth. ... It might even be too tame for the kids who make up the target audience," says Time Out’s Joshua Rothkopf. "This is as generic as Hollywood gets."

Twitter: @mrnkrkptrck

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