MOVIE PREVIEW: Turtles movie actually pretty good!

Left to right: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Megan Fox as April O'Neil, Raphael, and Donatello in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. ANL-141014-112639001
Left to right: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Megan Fox as April O'Neil, Raphael, and Donatello in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. ANL-141014-112639001
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The most shocking thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that it’s far better than expected.

So are the special effects, so are the comedy elements of the script, and so is, erm, Megan Fox. Yep, Fox isn’t actually too annoying, and is passable as intrepid news reporter April O’Neil – if only just.

It’s also more enjoyable than producer Michael Bay’s last three Transformers films put together – and obviously far shorter – which isn’t saying much, but it’s a start.

This big-budget reboot – helmed by Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman – does a decent stab at re-launching the franchise, despite generally offering a clichéd storyline that has been done a gazillion times before – and the unnecessarily miscast presence of Whoopi Goldberg.

Darkness has descended over New York with the evil Foot Clan – headed by martial arts kingpin Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) – controlling important elements of city, but a group of genetically-mutated ninja-trained turtles are becoming a thorn in their side, much to the chagrin of their rat-featured father-figure and mentor Shredder (voiced by Tony Shalhoub).

The pizza-loving heroes in a half-shell – Leonardo (voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello – have ventured from their sewer dwellings to tackle serious crime, but when April O’Neil photographs them in the act, it starts a chain of events that will change their destiny. With the impressively computer-generated turtles, enjoyable comedic touches – especially from Noel Fisher’s Michelangelo and Will Arnett’s news cameraman Vernon – and cleverly orchestrated action set-pieces (see snow-covered mountain battle and rooftop finale), this is one of the year’s guilty movie pleasures.

Its ultimately generic all-round feel can’t take it much above the realms of mediocrity in other areas – with Shredder’s formulaic ‘release a deadly toxin over the city’ plot being seen as recently as the Amazing Spider-Man.

But this surprising re-birth of one of the nineties most-iconic superheroes’ has undoubtedly put ‘Turtle Power’ back on the map – for the half-term at the very least.

By Gavin Miller Rating: 3/5