I really do not think that I have the same nostalgia for this property that other people seem to have. I had lots and lots of toys of the turtles, I watched different cartoons, and I watched the older movies growing up. I never read the comics. Regardless, while they are a fixture of my childhood I do not consider them sacred or high art, they are a bit of goofy fun that you watch, laugh a little, and then move on. But this movie takes a lot of missteps and no real excuse for it, because the Turtles have been portrayed so many times so consistently that the failures are all the more obnoxious.
First off I find that all of the Turtles themselves are well acted and well animated. They look suitably monstrous with enough visual distinction to tell them apart. Splinter is well acted, his voice oozes wisdom and concern. Both of those things are good.
I have real problems with the scope of the movie, the hack plot, and the bad guys. Picture for a moment a tree, the tree branches out in numerous directions, with a big central trunk, then several large branches, then little branches, each with their own leaves. When building a universe, whether it is a fantasy world like Westros or Middle Earth, a space voyage like Star Wars or Star Trek, or a world of superheroes like the Avengers or the Turtles you have to grow the universe the same way. A central storyline: Fight Shredder and the Foot Clan; then secondary stories: Fight street crime with Casey Jones and April O'Neil, Fight monsters from Dimension X, Time Travel, Aliens, etc. This movie doesn't branch.
April saved them from the lab they were experimented on, the same lab that is working with the Shredder. See, you took what could have been 3 branches: Shredder, April, and the Lab, and turned them into more trunk. Rather than the story being able to go in a lot of different directions instead it goes in one direction. Lack of scope.
The plot is incredibly hack, a product of two of the biggest hacks in Hollywood, the same guys who did the Transformers series, modern Star Trek, and the Amazing Spiderman.... and holy shit is the climax of this movie look like the climax to Spiderman, with a strange mutagenic gas about to be released over New York, the tower to launch it falling off the building, and a fight taking place in a lab between the female protagonist (April here, Gwen there) to secure a chemical. There is also magic blood (Star Trek Into Darkness and Amazing Spiderman 2), an action scene based around falling (Star Trek and Star Trek into Darkness, though I guess this is down a mountain rather than thru a debris field in space), and saving a mentor figure who is badly injured (Master Splinter here, Captain Pike in Star Trek). So many elements that have been used before.
Lastly, the villains are just flat and boring. Their plan is to create a plague to sell the cure.... Which was the plot in a million other movies and Shredder is a mecha samurai.... just like the Silver Samurai was in "The Wolverine". It is a boring plot, with boring motivation, and it once again echoes the sentiment of "9/11 Truther" movements which one of the writers is an outspoken member of. None of the bad guys have any personality and only Shredder ever posses any physical threat to the Turtles. Boring and unthreatening. Very weak.
I really wish some other creative teams could get their feet in the door of these types of movies. I would not mind the Turtles fighting Krang or the Triceratops aliens, or just some big street gang. Something other than this.
It's not like this was ever high art.
This movie has serious issues, but first the positives. I still think that Andrew Garfield is great in the role, clearly having a love of playing the character, and his real life chemistry with Emma Stone translates to the screen as a very sincere romance that in many ways makes the movie worth watching, and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacey is a competent active character that makes all other love interests in superhero fiction look weak by comparison. A simple movie about them getting back together after breaking up in the first one, maybe while taking classes at NYU and Peter reconnecting with his friend Harry Osborn and battling a small gang of super villains (the Enforcers or Syndicate) would have worked wonders as a fun movie. That is not what this was.
This thing is two or maybe even three scripts shuffled together and they suffer for it greatly. Clearly the Electro story was separate, starting off with Gwen and Peter broken up, Peter meets Electro initially as he works with Gwen as he is trying to get her back, Electro's obsession with Peter mirroring the unhealthy attraction Peter now has toward Gwen following her and taking pictures without talking to her. Ultimately she helps to defeat Electro and Peter and her get together, her making a conscious choice to accept the dangers of his life as part of hers. Maybe the introduction of Mary Jane to add a new love interest and give Peter temptation to leave Gwen be.
The other script had to do with Osborn dying, and the army of super bad guy equipment that had been produced as a side effect of that research, that script had Harry kill Gwen as revenge for Peter failing to help him find a cure for the goblin condition, This running alongside the real story of Gwen deciding whether or not to go to the UK and Peter having to decide if he will follow, her death robbing him of direction in life and the movie ultimately ends with him recommitting to being Spiderman when the Rhino attacks.
Each of those stories would have worked on its own, but they got mixed up and staggered so they just fail. There are two showdowns within seconds of each other, the first with Electro, the second with Harry, you are so tired from the fight with Electro.... It is like eating a big meal and then having someone jam a funnel down your throat and pouring in a milkshake. TOO MUCH.
These two stories are shuffled together and their themes run counter to each other, one is about reconciliation between Peter and Gwen, the other is about them being broken apart. A house divided cannot stand. This is a whole that is less than the sum of its parts.
This thing is cluttered and incoherent and a huge waste of talent as the special effects and action are on great and the actors are well cast, all of the stars are for Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone which this franchise utterly fails to live up to.
|This is a fan made poster. All of the actual posters are inaccurate, in that they show it as a show down between Spiderman and Electro... That is not the core of the movie. Gwen and Peter are the core. I feel like I will have more to say about this movie in time. Much like I did with "Man of Steel".|