Sometimes, certain films are doomed to fail before they even receive a fair shot. Case in point: the TMNT 2014 reboot directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Michael Bay. Before the film even dropped in theatres, it was already deemed terrible by the Internet, all but ending this franchise’s chances of being anything more. But did it deserve more love and a second chance?
The controversial design of the TMNT 2014 reboot
Unquestionably, much of the noise was as a result of the design of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Many fans didn’t like the fact they had nostrils or lips, because apparently, real-life mutated turtles don’t have those things. Jokes aside, this could have been a perfect opportunity for the filmmakers to listen to the feedback and change the designs, much like what happened with the Sonic the Hedgehog movie years later.
Artist Jared Krichevsky took to Twitter and defended his decision to include the nostrils, but admitted there were other things he would change in retrospect. However, it’s fair to say the biggest complaints about these Turtles is that they didn’t look like the ones that most of the fanbase had been familiar with in the past. As soon as images of the new Ninja Turtles leaked out, it was all but curtains for the movie because many fans couldn’t look past the designs for the TMNT 2014 reboot.
It was unfair to dismiss the franchise
Costing $125 million to produce, the film brought in nearly $500 million, as per Box Office Mojo. The U.S. numbers were fairly low, though, as it only made around $65 million domestically. The middling reviews and low domestic gross didn’t stop the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, from being greenlit. However, that film’s box office cume was only $245.6 million from a $135 million budget, and the domestic pull was around $35 million, all but ending the franchise.
Yet, here’s the funny thing: No one ever really discussed the films or if they stayed true to the spirit of Turtlemania, as the focus revolved around the CGI Turtles and the controversial designs. No matter what happened on screen, the talking point remained the same.
What it did really well
It’s a shame more people didn’t give the TMNT 2014 reboot the time of day, though, since it not only paid tribute to the Ninja Turtles’ cartoons but also modernised it for a younger audience. Up until this franchise, Baxter Stockman, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Krang hadn’t been seen in any live-action films, but they featured predominantly in these stories.
In fact, these two films were everything that any fan of 1987’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series would have wanted out back in the day. The humour, action, and colourful characters were all there in abundance as the movies understood the necessary tone to convey Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s creations.
At the same time, think of the top-tier casting here: Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Brad Garrett as Krang, Brian Tee as Shredder, Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick, Tyler Perry as Stockman, Stephen Amell as Casey Jones… And that’s only mentioning half of the people who starred in this franchise.
Forget about the weird-looking Turtles for a second and consider everything else. The TMNT 2014 reboot was everything fans could have wanted from the film, but we let the Internet’s rowdiness overshadow all the things it did right. There’s a lesson to be learnt here about overreaction and giving things a chance, but hey, this is the age of the Internet and that’s like asking for calm and rational behaviour where there is none.
Tell us, what did you think of the TMNT 2014 reboot? Let us know in the comments.
Sergio Pereira is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a strong interest in comic books, film, music, and comedy, having been in the entertainment journalism space for over 15 years.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities in this time. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.