Australian Council on Children and the Media

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Not suitable under 8; not recommended 8-12; parental guidance 12-14 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • a review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 September 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 8-12 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 12-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 14 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

As the latest film about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles begins, a gang of villains called the Foot Clan, which is led by the evil Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) have overrun New York City, terrorising all who oppose them. Reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox), who is out to make a name for herself as an action news reporter, is out and about tracking down leads on the Foot Clan’s latest spate of crimes.

April stumbles upon a lone vigilante confronting the Foot Clan in the process of stealing chemical mutagens, and when April follows the vigilante she discovers not one, but four masked vigilantes; talking mutant turtles, who live in the sewers below New York City. These Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles include Raphael (Alan Richtner), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek with voice of Johnny Knoxville) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard). 

 We learn that April as a young girl was responsible for the Turtles’ start in life. April’s dead father, a genetic scientist was experimenting on four baby turtles and a rat, injecting them with mutagens, when his lab was attacked and burned to the ground. Before the lab was completely destroyed April managed to rescue the little turtles and the rat, releasing them into the sewers where the turtles mutated into their present form and the rat into a talking rat, who goes by the name of Splinter (Danny Woodburn with voice of Tony Shalhoub). Splinter has become the young turtles’ mentor and adoptive father.

The remainder of the film sees the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles taking on Shredder and his gang in a bid to put an end to their campaign of terror.                

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Scientific experimentation and mutation; criminal gangs; family and friendship

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film  contains science fiction action violence, both slapstick and more intense, including torture and some gun related violence. Minimal blood and gore are depicted.  Examples include:

  • A black robed man kneels on the ground with his hands bound behind his back. Other men approach the bound man and one of them punches him in the face. The bound man breaks his bonds and attacks his attackers with brutal punches, kicks and head-butts until they are left lying on the ground.         
  • A band of black clad ninja-style villains wielding assault rifles hold a large number of civilians hostage in a subway station. The villains place explosives on the wall of the subway and threaten to shoot the hostages if their demands are not met. A woman is grabbed and thrown roughly to the ground and another woman has a gun pointed at her head. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles appear out of nowhere and attack the villains who are thrown against the walls and ceilings. The scene cuts and we see all of the villains bound and lying on the ground.     
  • A flashback depicts a man setting fire to a laboratory - we see flames rising up and engulfing the room.
  • A large group of villains wielding assault rifles attack the Turtles in the sewers. The villains fire tranquiliser darts at the Turtles, the Turtles are thrown through the air by explosions, and are repeatedly tasered.  The Shredder brutally throws Splinter against the walls and the floor until he is lying unconscious on the ground.
  • In another scene, the Shredder repeatedly kicks the Turtles, punches them in the head and grabs them by the throat, at one point stepping on the back of one of the Turtle’s shells until we hear what sounds like bones breaking.   
  • In one scene a breathing mask is held over a man’s face while poisonous gas is fed into the mask. The man writhes on the floor in agony and his face and arms become covered in angry red blistery sores; the man dies swiftly. 
  • In one scene the Turtles are suspended in large glass prison cells with plastic tubes attached to various parts of their bodies, draining their blood.    
  • The film contains some reckless and perilous car pursuits during which a car runs down a man head-on and trucks and cars chase the Turtles’ car firing harpoons. The villains crash their cars into each other and then topple over a mountainside out of control. The Turtles and two humans end up dangling from a cable before being pulled to safety.         
  • The film’s final epic battle between Shredder and the Turtles on top of a skyscraper involves an extended brutal fight with April nearly falling to her death. Several swords impale Shredder’s throat, neck and shoulder (no blood is depicted) and he falls from the building to the pavement below where the impact of his fall creates a large crater. The Turtles also fall from the top of the building while clinging to a tower, but survive the fall uninjured.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are scenes in this movie that are likely to scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Very young children may find the Turtles themselves scary.
  • Splinter has a somewhat creepy appearance and may scare younger children although he is a positive father-figure to the Turtles.
  • The Shredder is a large brutish man with a menacing presence and a badly scarred face.   For most of the film Shredder wears spiky metal armour with multiple sword-like blades that can extend from metal gauntlets that cover his hands; the swords can be fired as projectiles.
  • In one scene a scientist uses a syringe to inject baby turtles.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group will also disturbed by the violent and scary scenes described above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes described above

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Skype; YouTube
  • Pizza Hut
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Ford vehicles
  • Soft drinks

There is also plenty of associated merchandise, much of which is aimed at children who are too young to see the film

Sexual references

The film contains some low-level sexual innuendo. Examples include:

  • In one scene the film’s lead female character is referred to as a “visual sexy seagull”.
  • In relation to April O’Neil, one of the turtles makes the statement “She’s hot, I can feel my shell tightening.
  • A reference is made to consenting adults not having to make excuses to be together.
  • In one scene two of  the Turtles hang from a billboard depicting a woman wearing a bra, with a turtle hanging from each of her breasts and laughing about it.       

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A man ogles April O’Neil’s clothed buttocks; she is wearing tight fitting jeans.
  • Women wear low-cut tops that reveal cleavage. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Social drinking at a dinner table.
  • Tranquiliser darts are fired from guns in one scene.
  • In one scene the Turtles are injected with adrenalin and react as if on amphetamines.. 

Coarse language

The film contains occasional low-level coarse language and some name calling. Examples include:

  • Oh shi..; bad arse; getting our arses kicked; numb nuts; shut up.
  • Idiot (used more than once); dumb, insane, crazy; freak; little girl; human dirt

In a nutshell

The latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is a science fiction action adventure targeting teens and adult fans of former TMNT films and cartoons. As usual, there is plenty of comedy in the film, but it deserves its M rating, with some intense violence and disturbing scenes that make it unsuitable for under 12s who may want to see it because they are owners of TMNT toys and other merchandise. Parents should be aware that this is not an animated film, and is thus likely to be more disturbing for children, especially in the 3D version.

The main messages from this movie are about family and teamwork. The Turtles care for, support and protect each other and their ability to work as a team enables them to overcome and defeat their enemies.  At the same time, Splinter is a positive father figure to the Turtles, teaching them positive values such as honesty, discipline, teamwork and selflessness.  

Parents may wish to discuss the manner in which the film objectifies the film’s lead female character April O’Neil. The film focuses more on the Turtles’ sexual attraction towards April and April’s sex appeal rather than her heroic qualities.

 

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