Nerd’s Eye View: TMNT 2014 (Part 2)

Onyx Truth Contributor:  Clyde Wheeler

Ah!  So you’ve returned to the Nerd’s Eye View, the place where we look at movies, not from a technical aspect, but through the eyes of a fan.  And since you’re here, you must be TMNT fans like me.  Well, when we last left our heroes, they and April had just been told that Eric Sacks works for Shredder.  Even though this is the second time she’s been told that Sacks was a bad guy, NOW April looks at the business card he gave her.  This is to let the audience know how the Foot have been tracking her in case we missed it ourselves.  This is also the moment when Donatello’s alarms go off letting them know they’re under attack.

Assuming you read the first part of the review, you may remember when I said the turtles were the worst ninjas ever, mostly because of how loud they are?  Well, I lied.  The Foot Clan are the worst ninjas ever.  Why?  Because they’re not actually ninjas!  Yeah, in this movie version, the Foot aren’t ninjas.  They’re just a bunch of wannabe soldiers practicing organized crime.  The kids in the first turtles movie were more ninja then these guys!image Explains why they have that stupid “they’re called the Foot Clan because the step over people” line from the beginning of the movie.  Even Michael Bay doesn’t have the balls to pretend a bunch of paintball and laser tag enthusiasts are masters of the ninja arts.

The Foot blow a hole in the wall which separates everyone, a little, and they storm in firing tranq darts.  When warned of this, Leo gives the excellent advice of not letting the darts hit their skin.  He then proceeds to protect his face by covering it with his arms, which somehow don’t get darts imbedded in his skin.  Anyway, fighting ensues and each of the turtles gets a few seconds to bust some heads.  Splinter has actually made a trampoline out of about 5 Foot soldiers by himself.

Throughout all of the fighting, Donnie keeps yelling out that the Foot have breached the Fan Room.  Leo tells Raph to get to the Fan Room, to which he replies “why are you always telling me what to do?”  Leo tells him to just go. Finding the enemy, Raph pushes a fan into someone, without cutting them and with no blood, gets shot by some darts, and knocks the roof down on some Foot and himself.

By now, Shredder has entered the scene doing his best Megatron impression and he squares up with Splinter.  Now, I know that April didn’t know Splinter was alive and thus neither did Sacks nor the walking blender we call a villain.  However when you see a 5’5″ tall talking rat in a kimono wielding a sword, and you come looking for 6″ tall talking turtles wielding swords, I’d like to think you’d realize the rat is from the same experiment and has the same precious mutagen in his veins.  But no, the movie ignores the fact that the same chemical they’re hunting the turtles for is also in Splinter.  So Shredder tries to kill him.  And this fight is also pretty decent.  Seriously, while there are times when the camera is switching viewpoints too quickly to follow the action, when the actions is shown properly, the fan boy in me gets up and dances.

Splinter tries to stab old Shred Head in the eye.  Shredder sprouts blades like a porcupine then throws them and magnetically sucks them back, making Shredder the bastard love child of Megatron and Magneto.imageIt’s a typical Bay fight minus the explosions. Long story short, Splinter loses just in time for the other three turtles to run in and surrender less Shredder kill him.  They drop their weapons and Shredder punches Splinter one more time leaving him for dead (instead of taking him alive to extract mutagen).

Believing Raphael has been crushed to death, because it’s not like he has a shell to protect him or a cure all running through his veins, they shock the others with cattle prods and walk them out, setting off explosions as they go.  Now I know this may come as a shock, but Raph is not dead (the whole fan room scene existing JUST so he could be separated from the others and not be captured).  Splinter is also alive, though he is dying. Raphael finds April trying to remove rocks off him and hurries to help.  Unable to do anything for his father (I guess even Splinter’s BLOOD forgot it had mutagen in it), he is told to save the others.

Needing a ride, April calls camera guy to pick them up which convinces him she’s finally succumbed to his masculine wiles.  He shows up with his new hat trying to be smooth and April just ignores him again since she’s focused on the whole “evil gang leader kidnapped my mutant pets” thing.  Assuring her that she doesn’t have to make up stories to have naked time, he is very surprised to find a talking turtle in his van.  Now realizing that she is not crazy, camera guy drives them to the Sacks estate.

Cutting to the Legion of Doom, we find the guys locked in Magneto cages and being drained of their blood.  We don’t find out why they just happen to have these here because Sacks is there engaging in villain clichés #252 and #47 at the same time: monologue his evil plan to the captured hero AND killing a hapless minion to demonstrate said plan.  Here is the plan in a nutshell.  They have made a toxic gas that can kill within minutes.  The mutagen was supposed to cure the gas.  The idea is to release the gas as a terrorist attack then sweep in and save the day with their miracle cure.  The government will pay Sacks stupid amounts of money and the Foot will run NY.

Now, let’s set aside the fact that the plan would fail because the gas would kill too quickly for the cure to be useful.  Let’s set aside that they also want to keep control of New York as a quarantine zone despite the plan being to save it and thus it would no longer be a quarantine zone.  They haven’t had access to the mutagen in 15 years and they didn’t have enough information to say it would work for sure then.  Yet these fools are so happy to have access to Leo and the others’ blood that they ASSUME they can transform the blood into the ooze, they ASSUME it will work like it’s supposed to, and they want to go right into killing hundreds of thousands of people.image
Of course, maybe they put a rush on the plan because a pissed off Raphael just rammed the gate with the news van, busted out the side like the kool aid man, and is currently kicking the shell out of the “not ninjas” Foot clan.  Sacks runs off with the blood and the gas while Shredder fights Raph.  We’ll get into the fight in a moment.  What I’m wondering at this point in the movie is why the rush?  Didn’t Shredder beat Splinter with ease?  Didn’t you capture three turtles at one time?  Why not capture the fourth and drain him for more blood?  That was the original plan right?  But nope, time to get out of Dodge.

What makes the running away even sillier is that Shredder handles Raphael with ease.  Even if you didn’t know Raph from the other versions, that he was the biggest, the meanest, the strongest, and most fearsome of the four, the movie still shows him as at least 6ft tall, at least 200 lbs, all muscle, and strong enough to toss shipping containers.  Not only does Shredder whoop him like he stole something, he also out muscles him, too.  He even tells Raphael that Splinter didn’t teach him well (see part 1 of the review for why I agree).  He cracks Raphael’s shell then leaves, again not capturing a being that you know has the precious mutagen you want.  I’m beginning to think the reason you haven’t been able to make your plan work for 15 years has less to do with April’s dad burning the research and more to do with you all being idiots.

Speaking of April, while Raph is getting his one free karate lesson from Shredder, she finds the guys in the cages almost completely drained.  Asking Donnie what to do, because being an electronics geek clearly means he has medical knowledge, he tells her to inject them with adrenaline.  Why adrenaline is hooked up to the machines is another thing the movie doesn’t explain, but April manages to get it flowing which gives them the strength to break the chains and flip out the cages, which is unnecessary yet cool looking.  Then they run over to their brother and help him back on his feet.  The fearsome foursome together again, they run outside where they’re spotted by some Foot that Raph left conscious.

Tired of being repeatedly stomped, the Foot immediately start shooting.  To our heroes’ surprise and delight, they find that they are bulletproof (yet not tranq dart proof apparently).  The movie exemplifies this fact by having the bullets hit the turtles then ricochet ON THE EXACT SAME TRAJECTORY THEY WERE FIRED FROM!  In slow motion no less, so you can see how the bullets are defying physics.image
After beating down more fodder, camera guy steals a 16 wheeler and everyone hops in.  In all honesty, the next 10 minutes are probably one of the most awesome chase scenes i’ve seen in a movie.  There are three hummers with shock grapples.  There’s a cliff.  There’s shell boarding.  The turtles are throwing themselves at the hummers like bumper cars.  The Foot are dying.  They don’t show anyone dying, but trust me, somebody had to die in those crashes.  A lot of it is in the trailer, but it’s still one of the most enjoyable moments in the movie.

Following the descent down the cliff, the turtles enter a maintenance hatch that leads to shell surfing in the sewer.  With Donatello’s directions, they easily manage to get to the Sacks Tower close behind our bad guys.  Saying that they’re going to try to stop the gas, Leo suggests that April and camera guy leave.  Tired of being useless, they instead say they’ll stay and try to grab the mutagen just in case the four have an epic fail.  A couple funny moments from the trailers happen and then the ninjas meet Shredder on the roof for the final battle.

The fearsome foursome look like ninja toddlers compared to Shredder.  One on one or in a group, he tosses them off the building with ease.  When they’re not hanging off the building, he pounds them with his punches and kicks, you know, instead of using the Dozens of magnetic blades sprouting from his armor.  The only time we see the blades come out is just in time to be blocked or dodged.  After all, we can’t have any blood in this movie.  We can have bombs, bullets, car crashes, arson, murder, and martial arts violence, but blood would be going to far.

In-between scenes of Raph and them getting their shells kicked, we cut to April and camera guy who have cornered Sacks in his lab.  And by cornered, I mean that they are hiding behind a counter while Sacks shoots at them.  Way to use all those teachings your surrogate father Shredder gave you, Sacks.  Since his student also sucks as a ninja, maybe Shredder read the same book that Splinter did?  Oh, and Sacks killed April’s dad.  Big shock.image

So now that there are only about 15 minutes left in the movie, its time for the comeback.  Camera guy takes a shot in the arm for April while he knocks out Sacks, once again proving that men will do just about anything for a chance to get in a woman’s pants.  Spoiler alert:  he doesn’t get anywhere with her.  As for the turtles, they are about to have a big scene.  Remember those two times Raph showed he had a problem with Leo’s leadership earlier in the movie?  He asked Leo who put him in charge and later asked Leo why he’s always telling him what to do?  Remember?  Good, because the next scene is the payoff for that tension between brothers.

While thinking about how they’re failing miserably, will probably be killed, and how Splinter and millions of others will die, Mikey randomly asks if anyone wants to play buck-buck.  The others look at him like he’s crazy when Leonardo gets an idea and says they Should play buck-buck.  Donatello wonders why they should do that when Raph says they should listen to Leo and then the two brothers fist bump.  Can’t you feel the brotherly love?  You can practically see the resolution of years of low self esteem and tension fall off their shoulders…

…this scene really pisses me off!  I’m about to go on a rant here (or an even bigger rant) and it’s not going to be very funny either.  So if you want to skip this, feel free to skip to the next page.  Still with me?  Ok.  Here we go.

No relationship is going to be perfect, especially this relationship.  Their personalities are going to involve clashes.  However, lets look at a couple different ways the other versions did it.  In the first movie, Raphael fights with Leonardo, leaves, gets beaten up by the Foot, and is out cold for days, making Leo regret the fighting they did and he waits by Raph’s side until he wakes up.

In the cgi cartoon movie, Leo and Raph have a big fight scene on the roof in the rain where Raphael breaks the katanas, almost kills Leo, and then Leo is captured by the bad guys.  Raphael has a heart to heart with Splinter who basically tells him that he is a good ninja and a beloved son.  Raphael then leads the charge to rescue Leo and gives him new swords.image
And in the newest cartoon, Raph argues with Leo about the best way to take down a villain, Leonardo leaves, and Raph is in charge for the rest of the episode.  This has him realize that he can risk his own life easily, but having Mikey and Donnie risk their lives on his orders makes him hesitate and make bad decisions.  He finds Leonardo later, the two of them work together to beat the bad guy and Raphael apologizes for constantly questioning his orders.image
Leaving aside Leonardo’s questionable leadership abilities in this version, this is another example of the audience needing to know the previous history of these two.  Considering that in almost every version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raphael has had a problem with Leo’s leadership, I can see why they felt they needed to keep it in the movie.  But the way they do it is straight crap. In other versions we have Raph in a coma, we have the two fight almost to the death, and we have Raph actually be leader for a bit so he can realize how hard it is.

What does Michael Bay bring us to represent the two brothers coming to terms with each other?  Raph questioning Leo’s position after they’ve just been exposed to a human for the first time, him arguing with Leo in the middle of an attack on their frickin’ home, then everything is better because “let’s play buck-buck” and a fist bump.  Did we just witness an epic bromance for the ages or is this another example of the movie doing something new audiences won’t appreciate?  Here’s a hint:  go with the second answer.

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