We’ll I’ve done movie reviews and top 10’s, now I’m going to start something new for the site that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, a little thing that I like to call movie vs. movie. This is when I compare two similar movies to see which one is better. Now comparing movies is nothing new but for the most part people just compare sequels to first installments or originals to remakes. But I thought it would be fun to take two different movies that have a few things in common to determine which is superior. So with all that explained, let’s look at the first live action “Transformers” movie from 2007 to the first live action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie from 1990. Both of these movies were based off of two hit animated TV shows from the 80’s, are a big part of 80’s pop-culture, both are about a team of hero’s that befriend a small group of humans and defeat evil. P.S. I’m only looking at the first films, the sequels to both of these movies just aren’t worth talking about. Now neither of these movies are great masterpieces or anything, there just for simple fun, enjoyment and are primarily for fans of the shows. To be honest, I never watched ether of their animated shows but I liked both films and found them to be rather fun on their own. “Transformers” is one of the most purely entertaining Sci-Fi’s I’ve seen in years and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie” was the very first live action superhero movie I ever saw, so I have a big nostalgic spot for it. So let’s begin by looking at the two teams, the Ninja Turtles and the Autobots.
Now visually both of these teams were brought to life beautifully. The CG for the transformers was just jaw dropping, with all those moving parts and how they moved around in their environment so well. They might just be the greatest visual effects ever put into film. The turtles are equally credible for being some of the most spectacular animatronics and puppets to ever be viewed on screen. They were brought to life by puppet master Jim Henson whose name is legendary for creating “The Muppets”. As a kid, I never once felt like I was watching people in costume because they just looked so cool. But how do the actual characters hold up, well for as awesome as the transformers look, they never felt like actual characters. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee are basically just there to fight and protect but there’s no actual character structure and I don’t even remember the names of the others because we barely see any of them. It takes forever for them to show up in the film and when they do finally arrive there still given less attention than the human characters. At times it feels like the film forgot it was a transformers movie and instead a teen comedy. The ninja turtle movie on the other hand is all about the ninja turtles, it’s their movie and no one else’s. Their also given their own character traits, individual personalities and some of them are given their own story arch’s. Leonardo struggles with being the leader after their master was abducted and Raphael feels less loved then his other brothers and goes through his own spiritual quest to learn that a father loves all his son’s equally. It’s not just about these hero’s defeating the villains, it’s about a fallen family coming together as one and that makes them a superior team to the autobots. So that’s 1 point to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The movie”. Now let’s look at the human characters and boy oh boy do I have mixed feelings on this one.
Admittedly one of the biggest problems I had with the new Transformers movie was that it was all about the humans while the autobus got less attention. However, the human characters in ninja turtles served their parts very well, they were the turtles link to the real world and they never overshadow the main characters, but to be honest they weren’t that memorable either. Shia Labeouf and Meagan Fox didn’t exactly play great characters but they were certainly more memorable and Shia Labeouf is just a lot of fun to watch on screen. It may be hard to find believable characters in the Transformers movie but that little bit of memorability tips the point over to “Transformers”. Another thing both of these films have in common is a ridicules amount of jokes, so let’s take a look and see which has the most subtle hummer.
Now the hummer in ninja turtles was no surprise, it’s like it’s a tradition for them to knock off some silly one liner or pop culture reference. So the hummer and joking in ninja turtles stays true to the characters but that doesn’t make the jokes funny either. Most of the time there hummer is annoying or just not funny at all, but to be fare there’s a nice limit to how much joking the characters do. Transformers on the other hand has no limits, it’s not like hummer was a part of Transformers to begin with, so why are there so many insane attempts at laughter any way? Most of the joking in this film goes beyond ridicules, a robot pulls off Shia Labeouf’s pants, another robot actually pees on someone, there’s a masturbation joke that’s completely uncalled for, a lot of sexual related hummer, predictable jokes and people acting clinically insane, especially that sector 7 guy, I mean what the heck was up with that. Now to be fare there were some genuinely funny moments like the one Autobot stating that the boy’s pheromone levels suggest he wants to mate with the female and the one guy crashing through his own sliding class window, hilarious. But despite some funny moments, there is just no limit to just how stupid the hummer can get in this film while ninja turtles new its limits. So that’s 1 more point for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie”. Now for the next big comparison, the battles, which of the two had the best action?
As a kid, I thought the fights in the ninja turtle movie were pretty exciting, the choreography was pretty impressive considering they were people in costumes, the tension was decent, the interaction between heroes and villains was sensational and the stakes were high. But what really holds the action up even to this day is the music, holly cow, this is one of the most energizing soundtracks to go with an action scene, it gets you pumped and it really drew me in to what was going on. But for as exciting as the ninja turtle fights are, they just can’t compete with the breathlessly exciting and mind blowing battle scenes from “Transformers”. The attack on the military base at the beginning of the movie, the fight in the desert and the sensational climax in the city were all relentlessly fast past spectacles to view on the big screen. The visual effects were blended beautifully into the settings and it felt real. So for as good as the ninja turtle fights are, there is still no way I couldn’t give this point to “Transformers”. Finally, let’s look at the overall written story to determine which is better.
Well obviously, Transformers is going it win a wider audiences then the ninja turtle movie and I completely understand why people would rather see a film about giant robots as opposed to people in turtle costumes. But when analyzing them both, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie” is surprisingly a superior film. The conflicts between good and evil are also a lot stronger and the Shredder makes for one of the most memorable villains from my child hood as opposed to Megatron who isn’t seen until the end of the film. Like I said earlier, it seems the writers of the film understand who their target audience is and they try to make it a little mature while still keeping the source material alive. There’s a feeling of genuine awareness, that it knows what kind of film it is and what kind of audience would watch it. It was a little dark and a little violent but it was nothing too intense for kids around 6-9 years old (Well, It wasn't for me). There are even some elements in this film that are rather subtle and refreshing. We have characters suffering from defeat, characters rebuilding themselves and it has a feeling of family togetherness, not just with the hero’s but also with some of the villains. The evil ninja clan that the ninja turtles battle are comprised of people who have run away from home and feel that they need to belong some ware. In the end they have to learn that there’s a difference between belonging some ware and being used and they find their way back home to the people who love them. It’s actually a decent message for a young audience and it makes the film feel more competent than just an entertaining action film. “Transformers” just doesn’t seem to be aware of who the audience is. Is it for fans of the show, is it a teen comedy, is it a Sci-Fi action movie, is it for kids or adults, there just doesn’t seem to be an awareness to whom the film is targeted to and there isn’t really a moral earthier. While the ninja turtle movie is no masterpiece by any means, they do at least try to get a moral across rather than just entertaining brawls and funny one liners and that makes it a superior film. So for as insanely entertaining and crowd pleasing as “Transformers” is, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie” is still the best of the two.