teenage ninja turtles review

The heroes in a half shell are back, and this time they are the most realistic looking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever, thanks to Industrial Light & Magic's performance-capture technology. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman (but produced by Michael Bay and Nickelodeon), the newest reboot distinctly targets younger viewers but still has a PG-13 rating, mostly due to sci-fi violence and a scary looking Shredder. It hasn't gotten good reviews, but most critics admit that this is a movie that has more kid than nostalgia appeal.

But first, here are five questions to consider before taking the kids to see "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

1. How familiar is your kid with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Luckily, your kids don't need to know anything about the Turtles to enjoy or understand the movie. It helps if they do know basic things about Donnie, Rapha, Leo, and Mikey, but even if they've only seen the Turtles on backpacks or commercials, kids should be able to follow the plot, which presents a new-ish origin story in the prologue and flashbacks. Although the movie isn't 100% faithful to the comics, it's familiar enough to please kids, but just how young depends on how well your little one handles violence.

2. How sensitive is your child to violence? This "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is the first movie based on the Turtles that has been rated PG-13 instead of PG. The violence is similar to that in most superhero flicks, with large-scale action sequences that leave characters injured or in one case dead. Shredder nearly kills Splinter, who is shown unconscious, and three of the Turtles are caged and tortured (almost bled to death). The villains hope to release a biological weapon into New York that will poison everyone.

3. Do you worry about sex/language? There's not much strong language in the movie, just insults like "coward," "crazy," "freak," "stupid," "shut up," etc., but the sexual innuendo is stronger than you would expect. Mikey has a crush on April O'Neil, who's referred to as "hot," "hot chick," "smokin' hot," etc., and he even makes an arousal joke about his "shell tightening" because "she's so hot." Even during life-and-death situations, Vern (April's cameraman), keeps ogling her and staring at her butt, so expect a ridiculous number of references to Fox's body.

4. Who will enjoy the movie most? Tweens and young teens who are already fans of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" comics or TV show will be drawn in by the special effects and silly banter, but loyal adult followers of the series will not be as a pleased with the reboot of their beloved talking turtles. Even very young kids will be interested in seeing the movie, especially since the animated show is marketed to them, but this PG-13 installment might be too violent and full of sexual innuendo for littler Turtle fans.

5. What are critics saying about "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"? Reviews are mostly negative, with a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 34 on Metactitic. "Largely indistinguishable from any number of bloated superhero spectacles that have already graced our screens. Your kids may not mind it, but it's more insistent than it is fun," says Blige Ebiri, Vulture. Michael O'Sullivan of The Los Angeles Times says, "Not out-and-out terrible enough to be completely dismissed, while also not particularly memorable either, perhaps the truest summation of the film is to say simply that the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a movie that exists." And on a more positive note, Bruce Ingram of the Chicago Sun Times says, "[A] basically brainless but intermittently adrenalizing, mostly-just-for-kids reboot."



WATCH: April O'Neil dives into danger in an exclusive preview of "TMNT" (VIDEO))