The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie has come under fire for a lot of things during filming. There were complaints about how the turtles looked, about the casting of Megan Fox, even about controversial posters. So it's really no surprise that now that it is out in theaters, much of the movie community have turned up their noses and posted scathing reviews.
I will admit that there are issues with the film - I won't be attempting to say that it is an under-appreciated masterpiece here. However, I think that a lot of the criticism is due to people making up their minds about the film long before it was released, or going into it with unrealistic expectations. Yes, there are too many Michael Bay touches in the fight scenes, where it's all long shots and slow-mo (but nowhere near as many as in Age of Extinction, thankfully!). Yes, there were a hundred more appropriate casting choices for April O'Neil. But was it all bad? Heck no!
There are definitely a lot of good reasons to not only go see the movie, but to enjoy it, as long as you keep an open mind, and don't let bad reviews sway you before the film itself has a chance to.
1. To recapture that love of the series you felt as a child.
For everyone that loved the characters as a kid, there is something plain ol' awesome about seeing your favorite dudes on the big screen as an adult. Especially if you, like me, are in that age range where this is the first TMNT movie to come out when you are an adult. More than that, however, is the mindset that comes with nostalgia. For a few hours, how about putting away the jaded attitude and tendency to be an armchair movie critic, and remembering those days where you just didn't care if the composition was off, or there was a plot hole. When I was a kid, I used to run home from school to catch the heroes in a half-shell, and do you think for a moment that I cared if the stories made perfect sense? Of course not! I was just excited by the whole idea of the characters, of the basic joy in good vs evil and superheros and stand-offs. Approach the film with that same sense of childlike wonder, and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
2. To prove a superhero movie doesn't need to be dark.
Recently, it seems like superhero movies have been competing to see who can go the darkest. "Gritty" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and just take a look at the evolution of Batman and Superman to see how studios are aiming for gloomier takes on the traditional heroes. All of which is well and good, and some stories and characters are really meant to be somber. TMNT, on the other hand, isn't one that really needs the gritty treatment. Some critics have argued that it's just too light, but the characters are light. While the comic books were definitely darker than the animated show, the two essentially developed at the same time, so I don't consider the show second to the books. Remember those pizza-chomping guys who spent about as much time fooling around as they did stopping crime? Well, this movie certainly does. Again, it took me back to those days in front of the TV with Kool-Aid and poptarts, and it was actually pretty refreshing. There was something of the feeling of Guardians to it - like it doesn't take itself too seriously, and honestly, that makes a nice change.
3. To hear an interesting new twist on the backstory.
In the original, the turtles were transformed when they crawled into some "ooze", that mutated them from normal critters into the ass-kicking humanoids that we know and love. Splinter, on the other hand, went the other way when he encountered the ooze - from human hiding in the sewers to rat-man. It's a relatively simple story, and Splinter is actually given more backstory than the turtles are. For these ex-pets, it was a way to explain who they were quickly, so that they could go off on adventures. In the movie, however, their origin is actually a huge part of the story. They link April's past in with it, which is actually nice to see, because it does something to explain their attachment to her. It was great to get more of an origin story, but one that was nicely bound up with the main plot, so that the movie doesn't feel like an outright origin piece. I know many fans can be rabid about accuracy, but this was a nice balance of classic material and new ideas. It definitely does some damage to the importance of Splinter's original history, but I can get on board with the turtles getting more attention that him this time around.
4. For the clearly different turtle personalities.
Despite all the criticism over the look of the characters, I was actually pretty impressed. Ok, so they have a little more of a nose than we are used to (big whoop), but they have a little more of everything. The detail, the texture, the quality are all a vast improvement from the 90s versions. They also managed to do a lot with their individual personalities. Some of the other films have driven me a little crazy with their tendency to forget that although they are "brothers", they are very different turtles. Some critics took aim at the costumes, but personally, I liked seeing physical differences other than just colors and weapons. Donatello as the gadget guy and Michelangelo as the laid back joker actually come through. In fact, it may actually be a little heavy handed at times, but I was just happy to see the turtles' personalities really shine.
5. For the surprisingly fun audience.
This may change the longer that the film has been out, but this was one of the most fun opening nights I have been to in a while. The audience members seemed so much less serious, more about just having a good time. For the first time in a long time, I saw fans in costume, fans interacting, and fans leaving happy and relaxed, not intently discussing the post-credit scene. It may be that so many people got on board the hate train that the remaining viewers don't feel the need to criticize for the sake of it. Comic book fans can be vicious, and sometimes it's just nice to kick back a little and enjoy.
Overall, if you were a fan as a kid, and you can turn off that little internal critic for a couple of hours, you may actually find yourself really enjoying TMNT.
The biggest complaint that I would really level at it would be that they created a new theme song (shell shocked) rather than re-working the one that we all know and love.