‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ minus the wit

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2 out of 4 stars

Cowabunga! No, it’s more like “Cowa-bummer!” when it comes to the reboot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which fails on so many levels it should have been left in the sewer, where Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo apparently have been hanging out since their cinematic debut in 1990.

Is that Godzilla's son? No, it's just Michelangelo. (Courtesy of Paramount)
Is that Godzilla’s son? No, it’s just Michelangelo. (Courtesy of Paramount)

The four heroes in a half shell must have been topping their pizzas with healthy doses of steroids and human growth hormone because they’ve gone from toned reptiles to six-foot, muscle-bound freaks.

Want proof: Here’s the trailer from their cinematic debut 24 years ago compared to how they look in their latest film.

But Splinter’s sons also lost something in the past quarter-century: Their witty humor. Kids liked them for their ninja moves, while adults fell for them because they had brains to go with their brawn.

The first quarter of this movie isn’t even about turtles. It’s about a Fox – Megan Fox, that is, who plays April O’Neil, a TV reporter that is convinced “vigilantes” are trying to save New York City from the notorious “Foot Clan.”

Fox, who starred in the “Transformers” series, is just like the movie – average. You don’t fall in love with her outside of her good looks, though men will love the scene when she bounces on a trampoline and when she bends over. Did you really think Melissa McCarthy was going to be cast as O’Neil? And then there’s Will Arnett, who plays O’Neil’s cameraman who has a crush on her. But there’s no chemistry between them, leading to awkward conversations that are only saved by Fox’s hotness.

Megan Fox's hotness is one of the few bright spots  in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." (Courtesy of Paramount)
Megan Fox’s hotness is one of the few bright spots in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” (Courtesy of Paramount)

Director Jonathan Liebesman and producer Michael Bay – a star in the action-adventure genre – prevent the film from being an unmitigated disaster by delivering fluid fight scenes and a car chase down a mountain that’s the film’s highlight.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is disappointing because its first installment showed what happens in a comic book doesn’t have to stay in a comic book, making these dudes named after renaissance painters truly trailblazing turtles.

When the film hit theaters in late March 1990, it grossed $25 million, making it at the time the fifth-largest opening weekend in movie history. The movie, which had a budget of $13.5 million, went on to earn $201 million worldwide, which, based on inflation, is equivalent to more than $610 million today, according to Forbes.

The only way Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pulls in that kind of money this weekend is if Shredder’s Foot Clan steals every copy of The Guardians of the Galaxy and Lucy from theaters nationwide.

Since when did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rival the size of the Incredible Hulk? (Courtesy of Paramount)
Since when did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rival the size of the Incredible Hulk? (Courtesy of Paramount)

But there’s no way the Foot Clan could pull that off because it might be the largest collection of idiots to grace the big screen. These goons are battling turtles with bulletproof shells, so all they use are machine guns and a few bombs to blow up walls. Where is the tear gas? How about some poison? It’s not like they are fighting the foursome in the forest – these turtles live in the sewer.

In the first movie, the Foot Clan was made up of misfit teenagers. Now, members look like grown soldiers straight out of “Call of Duty,” except they are more ineffective than Ray Rice last season.

Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) also underwent a makeover, as he was given so much armor and blades it was like Bay still thought he was working on Transformers: Age of Extinction. On the flip side, Splinter looks great for his age and the back story he provides into how he raised Leo, Raphy, Mikey and Don provide much-needed answers to questions.

Still, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles leaves you scratching your head wondering how four lovable reptiles became so boring, so un-fun, so unable to have a meaningful conversation between them.

But there’s no stopping them, as a sequel already is being considered, which may be the only way these reptiles regain their turtle power.