‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Arrives, But Should You See It?

Here's what the reviews have to say.

It’s prime time for Turtle time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” hits theaters this weekend, bringing butt-kicking ninja action with a few slices of pepperoni pizza to spare. (Just kidding, there’s no pizza to spare; Mikey ate it all.) The return of Leonardo and his wisecracking brothers is long-awaited by longtime fans of the franchise, but will they walk away feeling satisfied by the pizza party, or left longing for the past?

The Michael Bay-produced reboot has opened to divisive reviews, with some loathing the new spins on the Turtles’ origins, and others not minding as much. Read on for a snapshot of “Ninja Turtles” reviews, and let us know if you plan on seeing the movie in the comments section below.

Related: Check Out the Dudes Behind the New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Outside of Their Shells

The Spoilery Secret Origin
“News Channel 6 reporter April O’Neil yearns to be taken seriously as a journalist, but instead always gets assigned fluff pieces about things like trampoline workouts. Choosing to defy the instruction of boss Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg), she sets out to break the case on the powerful Foot Clan crime syndicate that has swept over Manhattan. It is during this investigation that she is saved by Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), four masked, talking, 6-ft.-tall turtles in half shells. The closer she gets to these mysterious avengers, the more their past in a laboratory—and her unexpected connection to them—comes into focus. ‘They were my childhood pets,’ April matter-of-factly says, ‘and they were named after Italian Renaissance painters.’” — Dustin Putman, dustinputman.com

Sibling Rivalry and Revelry
“While their designs are a bit wonky, one thing the film does a very good job portraying is the actual interplay between the four Turtles. After a bit of a languid opening, the film gains a lot more humor and charm when the title characters come out of the shadows and begin to get more camera time, joking and bantering together. The groan-worthy inclusion of a fart aside (yeah, yeah, I know – kids love farts), a fun early sequence — showing the Turtles hurtling, sliding and skating through the city and sewers — does a good job of stressing these characters are teenagers, as does a very amusing moment in an elevator late in the film. The core traits of the characters are retained, and there are some appreciated nods to the history of TMNT across various media, including funny asides to some less than proud moments.” — Eric Goldman, IGN Movies

The Turtles in Action
“At least the Turtles themselves look cool, strange new nostrils and all. Played this time by 1s and 0s instead of guys in uncomfortable Jim Henson costumes, the crime-fighting creatures now hulk over their puny human co-stars, while moving with the agile, fluid grace one might expect from, well, ninjas. There are multiple benefits to this digital makeover. The action scenes, like a kinetic downhill chase through a winter wonderland, are cartoonish in the right way—privileging speed and energy over the laws of physics. The CGI also allows for a remarkably sophisticated range of facial expression, each Turtle conveying his one and only character trait—responsibility, intellectual curiosity, hotheadedness, goofball irreverence—through the twitch of imaginary muscles.” — A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club

Related: A Reason To Wear “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” Clothing Again (Finally!)

The Existential Crisis
“The biggest problem with the movie is it can never quite decide who it’s for or why it exists. A moment where the Turtles’ rat-ninja mentor (voiced by Tony Shalhoub) is nearly killed by a villain is a bit intense for younger audiences. Comedians Abby Elliott and Taran Killam appear briefly, implying jokes for grown-ups left on the cutting-room floor, and Whoopi Goldberg also feels underused in her couple of scenes as Fox’s boss.

“Not out-and-out terrible enough to be completely dismissed, while also not particularly memorable either, perhaps the truest summation of the film is to say simply that the new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is a movie that exists.” — Mark Olsen, The L.A. Times

The Turtles in Time
“Some things never change. That may be a hard concept to wrap one’s head around in an era in which childlike things – the ones we were originally supposed to abandon as we reached maturity – grew up along with us. Batman can be a metaphor for the Bush administration. LEGO building blocks can represent the crumbling divide between mundane humanity and the absolute divine. But the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have escaped that fate, and rather appropriately so. At its best this franchise was always about that moment when adolescent self-involvement graduated into mature self-sacrifice. ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ actually belongs in a permanent state of arrested development, because evolving any further would leave the children who actually needed that message alone, abandoned and wondering what the hell happened.

“So that this new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movie was made specifically for kids should come as no surprise. Jonathan Liebesman’s reboot of the movie franchise attempts to relate to the children of today in very much the same manner that the cartoons, comics and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movies did back in the 1990s, by flaunting the pop culture obsessions of a new generation and baffling all the adults in the process. The only difference is that now the adults of the 21st Century actually expect a movie called ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (of all things) to appeal to them. And really, whose fault is that?” — William Bibbiani, Crave Online

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is in theaters now.

Likes pizza, punch and pie. Dislikes the Chitauri.
@roundhoward