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'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is uninspiring

Published on -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

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The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" of the early 1990s had an incredibly formative effect on my life. I started my study of martial arts at age 6 due to my excitement and enthusiasm for the "Turtles." I studied martial arts for close to 20 years, and much of my personality was shaped by the values and discipline that was associated with karate at the time. Much like the "Karate Kid" movies did in the 1980s, the first "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" films inspired a generation of martial artists, like myself.

This remake is nothing more than an echo chamber -- it's both thunderous and depressingly hollow and, at best, serves to deliver the faintest echoes of the "Turtles" of my youth. I obviously am biased in my view of this particular franchise, but nevertheless I firmly believe this movie will not inspire the next generation of martial artists because there simply is nothing admirable to follow.

Sure, the action is big, loud and is in keeping with the action scenes of our time; which have devolved into roller-coaster rides with naught to do but hang on and watch the blurs go by. I admit, sometimes I like a good roller-coaster ride. However, the reason I was so entranced by the "Turtles" when I was young was because it was relatable. I saw something spectacular and wanted to emulate it. I wanted to be as disciplined, as skilled and as compassionate as the four fun-loving brothers who fought for good and each other. Youth seeing this "TMNT" have as much of a chance emulating this (it should be noted, rated PG-13) "Turtles" movie as they do the giant robot fighting of "Transformers" or "Pacific Rim." There's nothing to inspire or follow because it's all just smoke and mirrors. Case in point, in the 1990 original, Shredder fought all four turtles with a spear, and in the 2014 mess he uses a robotic samurai suit with no less than six swords per arm that can be shot and magnetically retracted. You know the phrases, "maybe he's compensating for something?" Think about that for a second.

Again, I understand how biased I am in this subject. Dropping what this franchise was for me and what it could have been to children now, "TMNT" wasn't quite as abysmal as I had feared. The plot is remarkably thin, the writing is similarly poor and every character clings to a solitary personality trait. The only reason I felt I connected with Leonardo (my personal favorite turtle) was because I know the character inside and out. The Leo on the screen was one-dimensional, at best. My memory had to do most of the legwork by filling in the blanks.

I wholehearted say skip this bummer and stay in, order a pizza and scrounge up copies of the '90s originals. You'll be far better entertained, and your kids actually might learn something. Conversely, if you need a night out, go see "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- again.

3 of 6

James Gerstner,


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