screen adaptation

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

When it was announced that Michael Bay was involved in the latest big screen adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the wailing and gnashing of teeth of a fanbase comprised of thirty year olds, who should know better, could be heard from space. But was they’re primordial rage before they picked the kids up from school justified?

Well, not really.

Let’s us be honest, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is far from perfect, but it is an extremely entertaining – whisper it – kids film. Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo don’t have the gritty realism some would expect or even demand from a reboot. After all, we’re in the age of grit aren’t we? A time where even Superman is not allowed to smile. However, whilst the heroes in a half-shell certainly kick arse, they are also a bit silly; getting into childish fights with each other and being scalded by Splinter. Even when the film threatens to veer off into dark territory, it pulls a joke from its sleeve that leaves a large grin on your face and reminds you of the days when blockbusters weren’t always just about appealing to the fanboys. It’s everything you remember from Saturday mornings.

To expect a film like this to be anything more is to fall into the trap of believing that the things we loved as children should grow up with us. And whilst a number of references are made during the course of the narrative that acknowledge the original cartoon, this is not a film that’s worried about the grown-ups in the room. It’s talking to the kids and successful at doing so. Yes, the plot is simplistic and at times the dialogue merely serves to signpost who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We were more concerned about Will Arnett leering over Megan Fox, which thankfully didn’t happen too often. But really shouldn’t be seen outside of Bay’s Transformers series.

Jonathan Liebesman has directed a great piece of bubblegum cinema that is a hell of a lot of fun. It crucifixion in the press seems misjudged and hopefully, when the boy’s make it onto DVD and bluray, it’ll get the proper recognition it deserves.

Go ninja, go ninja, go.

Warm Bodies (2013)

Isaac Marion’s tale of the undead learning to love again is given the big screen adaptation in Jonathan Levine’s latest.

Nature abhors a vacuum and with the Twilight franchise officially staked through the heart, there is the danger that this could be an early replacement. However, Warm Bodies has something that was never present in the tales of glittery vampires and werewolves; humour. Warm Bodies is aware that this is a bizarre concept. They make no illusions to the fact that R the zombie falling in love with apocalypse survivor, Julie, is normal. The film just wants to share its story and hope you’re in it for the long run.

Nicholas Holt gives a strong performance as the aforementioned R; a zombie whose overactive brain is beginning to question his place in this new fetid world. His animated running commentary is in perfect contrast to the slack jaw glaze that’s his face. Teresa Palmer as the object of R’s milky eye, Julie, is equally strong, but there’s just not enough made of her relationship with her father (John Malkovich) and quite why he’s such a miserable bastard.

There’s also the issue of the film’s antoganists, The Boneys; a gang of uber-zombies who don’t discriminate between the flesh of the living and the undead. With some ropey CGI, they don’t really come into play until the final act and when they do, it almost doesn’t feel right within the constraints of the film.

Despite the obvious teen demographic slant given to the original source material, Warm Bodies will still delight the zombie aficionado with head nods to Romero, Fulci and even Danny Boyles. Warm Bodies, if not the greatest zombie film in the world, is still a fun picture and perfect for any budding horror-philes to cut their teeth on.