Movie Reviews

Review: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows” Improves From The Previous Film

Genre: Action | Adventure | Comedy Directed by: Dave Green Starring: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett Written by: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman (characters)

Genre: Action | Adventure | Comedy
Directed by: Dave Green
Starring: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett
Written by: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman (characters)

Synopsis: As Shredder joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady to take over the world, the Turtles must confront an even greater nemesis: the notorious Krang.(Imdb)

I am still recovering from Michael Bay ruining my childhood two years ago with the first incarnation of the Ninja Turtles. This time around in “Out of the Shadows”, Bay steps aside to let director Dave Green to fix some of those mistakes. The sequel to the 2014 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” mess attempted to go the route of the “Avengers” and “Batman v Superman” by cramming in as many characters as they possibly could–it sort of ends up working.

There are two main things going on in this film. First the turtles are trying to discover their identity as a team. The other is the slew of villains they are attempting to stop from taking over the world. If it seems overwhelming to get all that into 112 minutes then you’d be right.

THE GOOD:

It shouldn’t be difficult to do better than the first movie. The bar was set really low. So I still can’t get over the way these giant alien monster looking turtles appear, but at least they have a bit more personality and charm to them that they were lacking in the first one. It’s as if they’ve grown comfortable with another. Lots more humor and shenanigans that make them seem like teenagers (I mean it’s in the title after all). Mikey is dropping pizza all over, cracking jokes, and running into a bunch of stuff.

This is a CGI heavy movie, but it actually works with the concept and what is going on. I’d actually recommend seeing it in 3D. The visuals are pretty cool. Seeing the turtles jumping off buildings, out of airplanes, and into the sewer is pretty neat. Visually, turtles themselves aside, the film looks good.

The CGI looks good

The CGI looks good

I was pleased with the casting and look of the new characters. They all seem like the right fit. Brian Tee is a far superior improvement on the Shredder. He’s a lot more imposing and intimidating, and he uses that deep voice that sounds like the cartoon Shredder, which is pretty cool.

The big wildcard for me was Tyler Perry as the mad scientist genius Baxter Stockman. Perry did a nice homage to the character. He nailed the goofy giggle laugh. I had no qualms about his portrayal. They could have used him slightly more though.

Gary Anthony Williams also looks the part and nails the mannerisms of the human Bebop. I liked how they stayed true to his purple sunglasses and mohawk. WWE wrestler Sheamus is Rocksteady. I initially wasn’t sure that he could pull it off or look the part, but he most definitely does. The interaction between Williams and Sheaums (real name: Stephen Farrelly) comprise some of the more entertaining and funnier scenes in the movie. They actually get a fair amount of screen time also. The CGI version of Bebop and Rocksteady looks solid.

Krang was the the coolest looking of them all. They did good CGI work on him and the robot body of his. What they missed on was the voice. Brad Garrett was not a good voice casting. Is Michael Bay an “Everybody Loves Raymond” fan or something? Who thought he would be the good choice for the voice casting? Krang was depicted as a caricature (not that he isn’t one), just not one that was intimidating at all.

Krang looks the part, doesn't sound it

Krang looks the part, doesn’t sound it

Stephen Amell, known to most as CW’s Arrow does the best he can with the character and dialogue. He’s depicted as a goofy corrections officer. I can’t decide if I actually liked that or didn’t. Casey Jones is supposed to be a badass, but he’s sort of the pun of all things. Some good one-liners. He does kick some ass also, but it’s just hard to take him any bit seriously. Instead of having April O’Neil get the hots for him through his badass nature, she seems to endear to him and feel sorry for the cornball he’s acting like. They sure do showcase his hockey skills–sign this man up for the NHL, he’d dominate.

I did like that they addressed the internal issues between the turtles. In the cartoons the turtles clashed and separated fairly often. They are teenagers with plenty of testosterone….ok, is that even possible? I’ll go with it. For a portion of the film Ralph and Mikey split from Donnie and Leo. They each do their own thing and execute their own plans. Ultimately realizing they work best together.

Another major positive–Megan Fox. Why? Because she’s Megan “fricken” Fox and she’s hot as ever in the film. They don’t shy away from it. I like that. Been a while since she’s been on the big screen, but worth every second of it, even though her dialogue or acting leave a hell of a lot to be desired.

THE BAD:

While everyone seems to look the part, the turtles still look like giant jokes. I won’t ever get over that. Couldn’t they just make them look similar to the movie version of the early 90’s turtles? I can go on for hours how much their look bothers me.

The turtles still look ridiculous

The turtles still look ridiculous

What hinders this movie from being good, it’s the most crucial element of any movie–the story writing. It’s just too convoluted and crammed. Too much happens and most of it lacks any meaning or purpose. Even the turtles don’t seem to know who they are feuding with or when they are even doing it. The winks and obvious hints to the audience are dumbfounding. They might as well just make an announcement or insert captions saying, “Now, April will tell the turtles what they have to do.” These turtles can’t be that oblivious right? April and Casey Jones serve as human police scanners for the turtles who are so “hidden in the shadows” that they can’t seem to do or figure out anything on their own.

The gaps in continuity are also bothersome. The opening shot is of the turtles jumping off the top of the Empire State building and various other NYC high-rises. Later on in the film they are forced to jump out of a cargo airplane. The turtles jump off as if they were Superman and have flying powers, yet Ralph is so terrified of the heights that he can’t. There is this big climactic moment of him deciding to jump or not. Dude, didn’t you just jump from all the NYC high rises earlier? The plane can’t be that much of a higher jump in elevation.

While I liked that you actually got to see Brian Tee’s face, for him to put on the Shredder helmet for one scene is ridiculous. How can they do justice to the Shredder character if we barely get to see him in his iconic helmet? If you blink you might even miss it. Also, the way they “dispose” of him later in the movie is destroys any credibility that the character had.

Brian Tee needs some time with the Shredder helmet

Brian Tee needs some time with the Shredder helmet

OVERALL:

Until they get some better writers that can formulate a better and less chaotic plot, this franchise will dwindle away. I did enjoy some of the gags and one-liners. Lots of references to the early films and cartoons. It was a nice touch to have Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby” playing in the background in one of the scenes. Also, a brief interaction between Bumblebee and Mikey was fun. However, the overabundance of pop culture references became too much, and started to seem like they were just going for the cheap pop. What the hell was Carmelo Anthony doing in this film? There is a way to much screen time given to the Knicks and Melo. I mean if you have to feature a pro sports team, couldn’t you do a lot better than to remind New Yorker’s of their awful basketball team? The scene with Carmelo was just awkward and unnecessary.

They got the casting choices right, or at least the actors did their best to honor the characters they were playing. A lot less focus on trying to be “hip” and inserting pointless pop culture stuff could have given more time to all the villains and new characters. If this had the 4 hour running time of “Gone With the Wind”, it still wouldn’t be enough to devote to the plot and characters. It’s still a better and more enjoyable effort than the first one, but still far away from what it should be. Kids will probably like it (not that they remember the original), their parents who grew up on the turtles probably won’t. The turtles might be “out of the shadows”, but the filmmakers are still hiding.

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 112 min

Release Date: June 3, 2016 (USA)

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  • Acting - 5/10
    5/10
  • Cinematography - 7/10
    7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
    5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
  • Buyability - 6/10
    6/10
  • Recyclability - 4/10
    4/10
  • Fun Factor - 7/10
    7/10
Overall
5.6/10
5.6/10
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