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Film: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Shell Yeah!

Crime, violence, and fear have run rampant. Our great city is being destroyed. People want justice restored to this world. People want heroes.
But heroes are not born. They're created.
— Eric Sacks

A new film produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebesman, released by Paramount Pictures. It's a live-action movie with the Turtles generated through Performance Capture CGI.

The story goes right into the origins of the Turtles as reporter April O'Neil finds herself involved in a secret group called the Foot Clan. But opposing them are unlikely heroes, four teenaged mutated turtle brothers who are skilled ninjas trained by a mutated rat. It turns out the Turtles and the Foot have a distant history and their conflict reaches a boiling point.

As expected with any adaptation, there are some changes. The turtles are quite tall and bulky in comparison to other sources note  and the Foot is more modeled off of modern military.

The movie was released on August 7, 2014. It managed to gross half its production budget back in one weekend, also taking in more in one weekend than the last Turtle movie did in its entire theatrical run. A sequel has already been announced for June 3, 2016.

See the teaser here and the second trailer here.


People want tropes. But tropes are not born. They're added:

  • Adaptational Badass:
  • Adaptation Distillation: April's a reporter like in the 1987 cartoon. She also knew the turtles and Splinter before they mutated, like in the IDW comics. The Shredder is also a lot more imposing, like his Super Shredder form in Turtles II, and wears an armored suit like in the 2003 cartoon.
  • Adapted Out: Hamato Yoshi is nowhere to be seen in this story, with Splinter a mutated rat (not Yoshi himself) who learned ninjitsu from reading books on it. Oroku Saki is not named on camera, but the character himself embodies the name of The Shredder. Casey Jones is not in the film as well, despite being in the parallel first movie.
  • Adorkable: There are a few times when the turtles really do act like teenagers, treating their own exploits like kids would. A particularly funny moment has the group in an elevator right before the climax and they all start beatboxing and using their weapons as instruments in turn, including Raph and Leo. Another funny moment had Donatello wonder if his telescoping staff had the punch to flip a humvee, and as it does so in slow motion the camera lingers on his glee-filled face.
  • All There in the Manual: Paramount released a trailer and website about "The Legend of the Yokai", which told of four kappa yokai who once defended Japan against a horde of fellow monsters, were also trained as ninja, and passed into legend saying they would come again. Though the film itself doesn't elaborate on this further than Eric Sacks displaying a scroll illustrated with kappa.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Given, they are mutant turtles, however in the case of great blood loss as the turtles experience, giving them adrenaline would definitely give them short-lived pep but it would be short lived and not last as long as through the end of the movie.
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Splinter, considering he lasted longer against Shredder one on one than the turtles did four on one.
    • Shredder himself has got to be at least in his 50s (considering he raised Sacks since Sacks was a child), and he's able to fight off all four of the turtles at once.
  • Badass Mustache: Splinter sports a truly epic Fu Manchu.
  • Badass Normal: April and Vernon went after Sacks and retrieved the mutagen despite neither being remotely skilled and Sacks having a gun.
  • Broken Pedestal: April started the film admiring Eric Sacks for publicly opposing the actions of the Foot Clan, until it was revealed that not only is he a member of the Foot Clan, he is the Shredder's right-hand-man. That pedestal was completely obliterated by the end of the film when it was revealed Sacks killed April's father after the later discovered the true purpose of Project Renaissance and tried to stop the former.
  • But I Read A Book About It: Given that the Hamato Yoshi backstory was adapted out for the Project Renaissance experiment, Splinter teaches ninjitsu from a book he found, instead of getting their Italian renaissance names from one. Shredder lampshades this during his fight that it might not be the best way to learn.Not that it stops him from actually putting up a good fight.
  • Caffeine Bullet Time: The film features a different variation of this trope. When Leo, Mikey, and Donny are kidnapped by the Foot to have their Blood and Mutagen extracted to serve Eric Sacks's evil plan, April manages to rescue them by pumping them with adrenaline before they can be killed. The result of which causes them to break out of their tanks and to jumps around blubbering excitedly yet incoherently before realizing that Raph is getting killed by the Shredder.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Michelangelo's "Buck-Buck" game which actually comes in handy during the final battle with Shredder.
    • Eric mentions the regenerative powers of the mutagen in his conversation with April. These properties are what save Raphael and Splinter.
    • The 'Hashi' punishment Splinter puts the turtles through becomes more of a training exercise for when they have to hold up the tower near the end of the film, with Shredder beating on Leo to try and make him break focus. Good thing he didn't have a cheese pizza on hand.
  • Chickification: Karai gets hit with this pretty hard, in every adaptation prior, that she has appeared in, she has always been a Badass who had skill equal, if not greater, to the turtles, to the point that if the Shredder disappears she became the next Big Bad. But in this movie, with the turtles being mini Hulks, Karai barely even counts as an Elite Mook and her biggest role is yelling at foot solders.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Mikey has April on his mind in pretty much every non-action scene where they interact. He even apologizes for how creepy his "We will find you" line sounded when she first meets them.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: The Fenwick Express. No matter the incarnation, whenever one appears it will always be destroyed before the film is over. Even if he just got it brand new.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The brothers, naturally. April is also codified by her Yellow jacket.
    • Leonardo: Blue
    • Raphael: Red
    • Donatello: Purple
    • Michelangelo: Orange
  • Comically Missing the Point: When April sees the turtles for the first time, Michelangelo thinks she was more scared by their bandanna masks than the fact that she sees giant talking turtles standing before her.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Turtles dread the 'Hashi', where they have to perform balancing acts while simultaneously doing another task for hours on end.
    • Leonardo: doing the splits on cinderblocks while balancing eggs on single chopsticks and on his head.
    • Raphael: maintaining a crane stance on a tricycle while knitting.
    • Donatello: standing on a balance board while keeping ping-pong balls in the air. He's starting to get nauseous.
    • Michelangelo: doing a handstand on a swivel chair. He was actually starting to enjoy himself until Splinter brings out a pizza and starts listing off the impossible list of ingredients.
  • Cool Board: Mikey has a jet propelled skateboard.
  • Cool Old Guy: Splinter, if his speech about how family is the strongest power of all is anything to go by. If not that, then going up against the Shredder alone definitely makes him qualify, even if he does get beaten.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Per canon, Michelangelo, who even manages to kick ass on accident. It's Mikey who suggests playing a game of "Buck-Buck" on Shredder. Vernon also qualifies due his driving skills and confrontation with Sacks.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Each of the turtles properly get their asses handed to them when facing Shredder, even as a team. Splinter is the only one able to really give him much of a fight.
  • Deadly Gas: Eric Sacks plans to release a powerful toxin his company created into New York. After wiping out a good percent of the population, he plans to rise up as a hero with an antidote he created with mutagen.
  • Distinctive Appearances / Divergent Character Evolution: The individual turtles are much more visually diverse than in any past incarnation. It goes beyond color coding their masks and weapons, to major clothing differences and physical stature.
    • Raphael is incredibly muscular compared to the other three. On top of that, his mask is a bandana fashioned like a do-rag, and he's covered in training bandages. He also has a character scarred onto his right shoulder.
    • Leonardo sports shoulder guards and other samurai style armor garments. He's also the most "average" build of the four.
    • Donatello is decked from head to shell in various gadgets, including goggles mounted on his forehead and stereotypically taped Nerd Glasses. He's also the tallest and thinnest of the brothers.
    • Michelangelo has a puka shell necklace, sneakers, and a hoodie around his waist. Even when he's serious, his general facial composition still makes him look dopey. He's also the shortest and roundest turtle.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Vernon when struggling to control a speeding 18-wheeler down a steep mountainside. April leans out the window to try and capture footage of the Turtles fighting the Foot Clan, with her rear end prominently displayed.
  • Expy: Eric Sacks is actually not the Shredder, instead effectively a stand-in for long-time Turtle foe Baxter Stockman, mixed with Oroku Saki's philanthropist/businessman persona from the 2003 series.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: To demonstrate the effectiveness of the poison gas to the captive Turtles, Karai forcibly gasses one of the Foot soldiers nearby. The poor guy's skin basically starts melting off as he convulses on the floor!
  • Fanservice: April tends to wear a lot of skintight pants, with camera angles that feature them prominently. Lampshaded in a chase scene when she leans out the window to try and catch the Turtles fighting the Foot Clan with her phone, leading to Vernon being Distracted by the Sexy.
  • Fastball Special: Donatello uses his staff to throw Raphael into a Humvee. The Humvee loses.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Splinter is explaining how April is their hogosha (guardian spirit), Donatello lowers his goggles and scans April as if he was trying to verify Splinter's claim.
    • When Splinter is lamenting April's involvement during the Turtles' hashi punishment, Mikey's hand can be seen reaching for the pizza slice Splinter used to break his concentration.
  • Gender Flip: April's boss Burne Thompson is now a woman named Bernadette Thompson, who is also African American, as she is played by Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The Shredder wants to rule New York City by means of a biological toxin that would instantly gain recognition from governments all over the world when they learn about it on the news. New York would've just been his first step if he plans on expanding from there. Sacks, on the other hand, is just looking to make a profit.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Aside from Raph mentioning in a Nickelodeon film that the four of them were getting their asses kicked by Shredder, there's also when Mikey first sees April. He mentions how hot she is, and how his shell is tightening.
    Raphael: "We can hear you!"
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Both Raph and Mikey have sunglasses as part of their clothing, but both never use them. Mikey's don't even seem to be the same size as his face! Subverted with Donatello's high-tech scanners.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja
    Raphael: Like shadows in the night! Completely unseen!
    [April takes a picture, flash and all]
    Michelangelo: [whispering] What was that?!
    Donatello: It's a camera flash!
    • The Foot as well. The fact that everyone in New York knows their name, let alone the fact that they exist, makes it questionable as to whether you could even call them ninjas. There's also the fact that they rely heavily on guns as opposed to actual hand-to-hand combat.
  • Idiot Ball: April picks this up when she goes to her editor with a bizarre account of mutant turtles and absolutely no evidence to back it up. She actually did have evidence, but was too sleep-deprived and probably jacked on caffeine to remember that she had the photo on her phone.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Turtles' shells are bulletproof, which they were quite delighted to learn.
  • Interspecies Romance: Michelangelo has a crush on April O’Neil. However, it is not acknowledged by April. Michelangelo tells his brothers that he has bibs on April after they meet her and he refers to her as his girlfriend when he realizes that she is the hogosha. Mikey is always trying to flirt with her and be romantic, though her safety is his biggest concern when they are in danger.
  • Jive Turkey: Mikey talks in a more 'urban' slang style than the 'surfer' slang he's usually been associated with. Interestingly enough, this is not only a modernization but a Development Gag from the 87 show before it was ultimately decided they should be Totally Radical.
  • Knife Nut: Shredder as per usual. His Powered Armor has several retractable blades per arm, and he can even pull them out to make a double-edged blade. The suit can also fire the blades, and bring them back with magnets...
  • Lightning Bruiser: The greater size and weight these incarnations of the Turtles possess don't seem to do much in slowing down their traditionally acrobatic abilities. Special mention goes to Raphael, who has shoulders bigger than truck tires but is flipping and ninja-ing with the best of them, and even manages to sneak into the back of the Fenwick Express without April or Vernon hearing him. The Shredder's Powered Armor also allows him to retain his swift fighting style.
  • Lovable Coward: Donatello is showing hints of this. He had an Oh, Crap reaction to the Foot soldiers having guns and he declared that he wants to be Bad Ass for once.
  • Made of Iron: The Turtles are shown to shrug off such things as getting shot with tranquilizers and repeatedly zapped with high-powered stun weapons. Bullets don't even faze them, to their delight. At one point, Raphael gets his shell cracked when Shredder stomps on him. His response?
    Raphael: Just duct tape it up, I'm fine. note 
  • Male Gaze: Played with in the scene where Vernon is frantically driving the truck and trying to see what April is doing. The camera pans over to reveal her grabbing video footage with her phone by leaning out of the window with her behind right in the camera. Vernon is fine with this, but taking his eye off the road causes them to crash.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Foot Clan. They've switched out their fabric masks for silver face masks with sunglasses.
  • Meta Origin: In this version, Eric Sacks' experiments lead to the geneses of both Shredder and the Turtles, as he apparently designed Shredder's armor in addition to synthesizing the mutagenic chemicals that mutated the Turtles.
  • Multicolored Hair: Karai has black and pink hair.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    • The film's tagline is: "The Leader. The Brains. The Attitude. And Mikey."
    • Also in the movie, Mikey keeps forgetting Vernon's name and keeps calling him "Other guy."
    Michelangelo: "They're gone... Leo... April... that other guy..."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Shredder's armor seems to be similar to that of the incarnation depicted in the 2003 series. It even has the same three-toed dragon emblem used by the Foot Clan from that series on the centre chest.
    • Fenwick calls the Turtles when first hearing about them, "Heroes in a Half-Shell."
    • One of the characters is named McNaughton, a reference to Jim McNaughton, a very obscure character from the original Mirage comics who reported the explosion of the T.C.R.I. building in the sixth issue of the original comic book.
    • The Turtles' new car plays a part of the 1986 theme song as its horn.
    • Subverted with Eric Sacks, which sounds like an Anglicization of Oroku Saki, a.k.a. Shredder.
    • A flashback shows Leonardo slicing up a pizza with his katanas, only for a slice to land on Splinter's head, like in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
      • Also from the same movie is Mikey's crush on April.
      • Also like the 1990 movie, Shredder holds a beaten member of the Turtles' family at his mercy and orders them to drop their weapons and surrender if they want them to live. The Turtles do so and he rewards their compliance by following through with his threat.
    • When the Shredder's new armor is revealed, he says, "Tonight I dine on Turtle Soup," a popular line of his from the 1987 series.
    • At one point Raphael uses a chain as a weapon, referencing his weapon of choice as the Nightwatcher in the 2007 CG film.
    • Before the final fight with the Shredder, Raphael asks Mikey to repeat something he said when they were kids. "COWABUNGA!"
    • The authors of the book on ninjutsu Splinter found in a flashback are Eastman and Laird, the original comic's creators.
    • Kid April in a flashback makes a comment about the mutagen being from outer space, in a nod to it being created by aliens in the comic.
    • Mikey mentions finishing a hip-hop Christmas album, which may be referencing one of the most infamous moments in Turtle history.
    • At one point, Raph said "We strike hard and fade away into the night". A line from the first issue of the original comic.
    • Sacks mentions that Project Renaissance almost used rabbits meaning we were a small decision away from Usagi Yojimbo.
    • Probably accidental, but three of the four Turtles take design cues from the proposed fourth live-action movie that never happened, including Donny's glasses/goggles and modified bo staff, Leo's overall ninja/samurai warrior look, and Mikey's street clothes look.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: April is brushed aside when she attempts to get a camera crew sent to a Foot Clan robbery in progress.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • When all four Turtles run through the parking garage and come face to face with hundreds of Foot soldiers.
    • Also when Donatello scans a Foot soldier and discovers they're heavily armed.
    Donatello (high-pitched voice): "Oh my gosh they have guns!"
  • Oral Fixation: Raph has a toothpick in his mouth in several scenes.
  • Parental Bonus: At the end, Mikey plays the song "So Happy Together" for April, which is obviously yet another example of his crush on her. The band that performed the song: The Turtles.
  • Powered Armor: The Shredder wears a nifty set of it designed by Eric Sacks. It allows him to go head-to-head with the Turtles, sports several retractable blades per arm, and the blades can even be launched out as projectiles and drawn back with magnets.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • While they're not anything bad per se, it's a bit jarring to hear Raphael drop both "numbnuts" and "asses" considering who this is marketed to.
    • Donatello saying "badass" was even in some of the trailers!
  • Prehensile Tail: Splinter is able to extend his tail and use it like another arm. Seeing him fighting the Foot Clan with it was pretty neat.
  • Race Lift:
    • It was initially suggested that Eric Sacks was a new incarnation of The Shredder/Oroku Saki. However, this proves to have been a Red Herring, as Sacks is seen speaking to a man shrouded in shadows, evidently Oroku Saki himself, about developing a new suit of armor for him. Interestingly, Sacks is the Shredder in the 3DS version of the movie, as well as earlier comments by Fincher himself, leading some to speculate that Sacks was originally Shredder but was changed to avoid any further fan backlash.
    • April's boss Burne Thompson is now an African American. Also an example of Gender Flip, since Thompson is now a woman and her first name is Bernadette.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • April is a reporter who goes to her boss with minimal evidence, ranting about mutant turtles who are also ninja's, after being told once before she needed real evidence, and promptly gets fired. She doesn't miraculously get her job back at the end either, choosing not to expose her new friends.
    • Splinter and the Turtles are self-taught from a karate book that got tossed into the sewer. Though competent against mooks due to their size and speed, Shredder is out of their league since he's better-trained and wearing Powered Armor that makes him a physical equal.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Those new outfits are not haute couture, to put it mildly. Donatello has a computer's cooling fan stuck to the back of his shell, and Michelangelo has a hoodie tied around his waist as a belt, among other things. Flashbacks show that the turtles dressed that way since they were children, probably from what they could scrounge from the sewers.
  • Running Gag: Mikey's crush on April.
  • Sand In My Eyes: As the Turtles are falling to their apparent doom, Raphael gives a heartfelt confession only to be stopped by Donny informing him they've landed safely. Then the following takes place:
    Michelangelo: "Raph, are you crying?"
    Raphael: "Nah ding-dong... *sniffles* It's just a little dusty out here."
  • Self-Deprecation/Take That: In the second trailer, Vernon asks if the Turtles are aliens, only for April to reply, "No, that's stupid. They're turtles."
  • Sequel Hook: The Shredder falls nearly sixty floors to street level and is captured by the police, but he's seen taking a bit of mutagen on a fingertip and hiding it in his fist.
  • Serkis Folk: As opposed to the original films' usage of animatronics, this film uses Motion Capture for the turtles, as well as Splinter and the Shredder's Powered Armor. The turtle’s Mocap suits had the addition of what looked like couch cushions stuck to the back, though.
  • Shoot the Money: The film is often accused of spending an inordinate amount of screentime with April O’Neil to justify the hefty pricetag of hiring Megan Fox for the role, though her involvement is likely much less costly than the price of the cgi/motion capture necessary for the Turtles themselves.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Raph doing his Batman voice.
    • The lair being referred to as the Turtles' Hogwarts, Fortress of Solitude, and Xavier's Academy.
    • It's been suggested that the Shredder's line "the rat has not taught you well" is an inversion of Darth Vader's line in Star Wars admiring Obi-Wan's training of Luke.
  • Super Strength: The Turtles have this here. As stated under Fastball Special above, Donnie is able to throw Raph with enough force to bash in a Humvee and send it rolling down a hill, and flip another truck over with only his bo staff himself. Earlier when hyped up on adrenaline they all broke through their unbreakable glass cages.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Taken to the apex with the Shredder Powered Armor. Not only does it have at least 3 massive blades on each arm, it is designed to launch those blades in a fanning motion and has a magnetic return system, letting him recover "ammo" almost instantly. Although towards the end it started backfiring, as the Turtles started deflecting those blades back at him. Played straight with Leonardo, who chucks a katana at Shredder and impaled his shoulder.
  • Title Drop: Played with:
    Leonardo: We're ninjas.
    Raphael: We're mutants.
    Donatello: Technically we're turtles.
    Michelangelo: Oh, and we're teenagers, but we can still have "adult conversations".
    April: Ninja, mutant, turtle, teenagers?
    Donatello: When you put it like that, it sounds ridiculous!
  • Totally Radical: Lampshaded. When Mikey uses his Catch Phrase "Cowabunga", he says that he's been "holding it in for years" since it's something he used to say when he was a kid.
    Raphael: You got one more in the tank?
    Michelangelo: Been holding it in for years.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The second trailer shows Leo, Mikey, and Donnie getting kidnapped by the Foot Clan, with Raph having to go rescue them.
    • And Splinter getting beaten by Shredder, being put into critical condition.
    • The second trailer also gives away that Eric Sacks is not the Shredder; he's just working for the guy.
  • Unexpected Character: Vernon who hasn't been seen or mentioned since the 80's version (and wasn't even included in 1990 movie where April likewise was a reporter) and thought long forgotten. So it was a surprise to longtime fans when he suddenly showed up in a supporting role in this movie.
  • Villain Ball: Sacks and his mentor the Shredder pass it between them, possibly due to one raising the other, with Bad Boss tendencies (most notably killing a loyal mook to explain a nefarious plan to the turtles moments before they planned to exsanguinate the lot) or just stopping mid fight perhaps out of pride.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Raphael is constantly at odds with Leonardo, hates being told what to do, and mentions that he's leaving the group the first chance he gets. However at the end, he defers to Leo's leadership and tells the others to do the same, as well as confessing that he says he's leaving because he's really just scared that he's not as good as them, and he only says that to make them bond harder when it feels like things are driving them apart.
  • Walking Armory: The first thing that Raphael does before going to rescue his brothers is gather up their weapons and take them with him. Doubles as a Chekhov's Gunman since it also gives the brothers their weapons back for the final battle.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: April's roommate who is often freaked out by her ranting about turtles is dropped.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: One has to wonder how mutated lab animals who spent years underground managed to find so many ninja weapons. Not to mention the equipment Donatello has, including but not limited to: retinal scanners, thermal goggles, and a wrist-mounted computer with a holographic display.
  • Worthy Opponent: Shredder was actually impressed by Splinter's skill during their fight, although he didn't think much of his students.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • While the attacks aren't like full on punches to the face or anything, Raphael does slam Karai into a wall in their first encounter, and is the one that takes out the jeep she's in, and it's questionable if she survived the attack or not.
    • Likewise, Shredder clearly had no problem killing April and would have done so repeatedly if the Turtles hadn't kept distracting him.
  • You Have to Believe Me: April actually seems to go out of her way to look like a raving nutcase when she first tells her boss about the Turtles. Actually mildly justified as she said she was up all night going over everything. Nerves + lack of sleep + the sheer nuttiness of the tale = not being at your best.
  • You Killed My Father: Said word-for-word. Eric Sacks was the one who killed April's father in the past.

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