I have this nightmare. In it, every other movie I see is by Michael Bay.
I wake up screaming.
It’s been but a month or so since Bay’s latest “Transformers” blew into theaters and blew up the box office. It’s hauled in $1 billion worldwide in the scant few weeks since its release. And now he’s back, with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
The nightmare is real.
Two Bay behemoths rampaging through the ’plexes in a single summer. It’s overkill is what it is. It’s a whole lot more of what the world so does not need.
He didn’t direct “Turtles.” Jonathan Liebesman (“Wrath of the Titans”) is the perp on this one. However, Bay produced it, and his paw prints are all over the finished product.
Crash-boom-bam action beats, a Bay trademark: “Turtles” has ‘em. There’s a scene late in the picture where the hard-shelled heroes are shown being injected with mass quantities of adrenaline. From the evidence at hand, one could be excused for thinking that Liebesman and his editing crew must have been mainlining that stuff morning, noon and night every day the picture was in production. Your eyeballs could get dislocated trying to track the action through all of the jitterbugging edits.
It features Megan Fox, a fave Bay beauty until their well-publicized falling-out some years back. (Note to starlet: Comparing your director to Hitler is so not a thing to do.) She was booted from the “Transformers” series for that faux pas, but apparently all is now forgiven and she’s one of the leads in “Turtles,” playing the terrapins’ best human pal, April O’Neil. Oh, and she still can’t act. Her signature moment comes when the camera, filming from the point of view of appreciative co-star Will Arnett, focuses in on her jeans-clad derriere.
Egregious product placement shots, another Bay trademark, are front and center. Though to be fair, given that turtle power is fueled by pizza, how could Bay resist splashing a certain pizza maker’s logo all over the place? Answer: He couldn’t. He didn’t.
The question behind this enterprise is, of course: Why? “TMNT” fever seemed to have peaked back in the early ‘90s when the original movies were made. Twenty-plus years later, I haven’t detected a clamor for a revival. But revived the Turtles are, using motion-capture technology to render them big (more than 6 feet tall), bad and bulky. Cast aside in the process, though, is a sense of goofy fun that marked those funky old movies.
monickered Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo, under the guidance of their wise rat sensei Master Splinter, are back in the sewers of New York battling the evil Foot Clan and its armored demon leader, Shredder, in an origin story that requires a whole lot of exposition to explain how little pet box turtles were turned into the Turtles in a lab experiment gone awry.
The original movies were crude — Men in rubber suits? Come on! — and the concept engagingly absurd: Teenage. Mutant. Ninja. Turtles. Bizarre. But kind of fun.
All the lightheartedness has been drained out of the technologically sophisticated reboot, which is full of automatic weapons fire, car crashes and humongous explosions. The bulked-up Turtles are threatening-looking and not very well-differentiated creatures who are repeatedly pounded by the way-evil Shredder with wise-guy Michelangelo occasionally offsetting the mayhem with wisecracks.
If ever there was a movie that should not have been made, this is that movie.