Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

paramount-is-launching-a-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-chatbot-on-kik-for-the-new-movie A few years ago a new live action TMNT movie was released to a mixed reception. Personally I enjoyed it for the great characterization of the Turtles and the great action scenes. The plot was brain dead and you could tell there were a lot of reshoots. Even so it was fun for what it was. At its heart TMNT is a ludicrous premise that deserves whatever level of gravitas you feel the need to put into it. It can be deadly serious and it can be mind numbingly ridiculous. We got the latter last time. This time? Well it's a different form of the latter. While the last movie only had Michael Bay's name on it this one feels like he genuinely had a hand in shooting it. Only, unlike Transformers, it's like he actually cared about the finished product.

The Turtles learn what it means to be a team that appreciates their individual talents and what it means to be what they are while Shredder tries to bring in a new ally from another dimension with the help of two new powerful mutants. There, I gave you the entire plot in one sentence. That sucks if your the kind of fan that demands TMNT be a strictly serious endeavor. However it works perfectly for what the studio clearly set out to do: create a live action version of the original Saturday Morning cartoon. Even the original movies took a lot of inspiration from the Mirage comics that TMNT originated from. However this movie doesn't seem to care about other sources of inspiration and, other than picking up where the previous movie left off, wraps itself in that original cheesy cartoon. We have ridiculous gadgets and vehicles, a focus on the Turtles and fun loving personalities, Krang and the Technodrome and even Bebop and Rocksteady. Hell, even Baxter Stockman was pitch perfect. By this metric the only failures were Shredder and Casey Jones. So let's get them out of the way first.

Shredder is in police custody, even though I thought he had vanished at the end of the last movie. He's seen as the greatest criminal in the world. They drive this point home again and again but only in words, never through actions. Sure, he helps bring Krang to earth but other than that he mostly stands there and looks angry. Now and then he scrapes a claw on something but at no point does he ever fight anyone...ever. In fact the hand to hand fight scenes leave a lot to be desired throughout the movie. The Foot Soldiers tend to be easily dispatched by any goober with a shoulder to throw. And speaking of goobers...

Casey Jones makes his debut in this series as played by Stephen Amell of Arrow fame. He mostly plays opposite of April O'Neil with Megan Fox reprising the role. Nothing new from her so she's barely worth mentioning. However Casey is a fan favorite character in the TMNT franchise so many were hoping for a lot in this guy. As soon as he was cast I had low expectations. I have yet to see Amell do any great acting. I've seen all of Arrow and he's nothing special in it. In the trailers for TMNT he looked to be playing himself all over again and that's exactly what we get. Now the studio says this is an origin story for Casey which is to say we only see him in the mask once. And he uses a hockey stick once. Hell, the bit from the trailer is the majority of the sports oriented behavior from the guy. He's not a vigilante at all. In fact when we first see him in the movie he is a police officer/corrections officer (they never really make the distinction). This is a major departure from a character many know and love as a rebel to the core. I was less than impressed. Thank god most of the time is spent on our heroes and their new foes.

The Turtles are, again, pitch perfect. We get to spend more time on these CGI behemoths due to a larger budget so we can see more of their interaction as a family unit. This means we even get to see Raph and Leo square off a bit. We get to see gadgets and vehicles inspired by the toys so many of us grew up with. I have nothing negative to say about these guys. And I'm fine with the designs. I got over that a while ago.

Now the new stars of the show are Bebop and Rocksteady. These guys are a joy to watch as they act like giant, overpowered bone heads. Basically the exact same guys as the cartoon but with new voices. The are giant idiots but still present a threat to the turtles as they go on a McGuffin hunt to stop things from happening because of a giant thing. Like I said, Saturday Morning. These two celebrate their wins and their failures. They just love being alive and being mutants. You can tell the studio had the most fun with these two and the actors, Gary Anthony Williams as Bebop and Sheamus as Rocksteady, were obviously having a blast as well. Their genuine fun translates perfectly on screen even through all the CGI.

Another stand out for me was Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman. Now I have no love for this man's writing and directing but when he's just a supporting actor in someone else's film he shines bright. I loved him in Gone Girl and I love him here. Imagine if Neal DeGrasse Tyson were a loser with no morals. You'd have Baxter Stockman. He revels in his mad scientific nonsense with a dorky laugh. He's another guy clearly having fun. He was a great addition to this cast.

And of course we have Krang. This is, again, ripped right from the old cartoon. Big brain looking guy with plans for world domination but needs help bringing his ultimate weapon to earth. He lumbers around in a giant robot body that he has to yell at at times in order for it to do what he wants. The only difference is they made him have a much deeper voice. I'm not a fan of that but otherwise his personality is unchanged. And even the Technodrome is ripped from the cartoon. As you see in the trailers it flies now so the only thing missing are the giant tank treads.

In the end this is very clearly a kid's movie. it's not meant to be serious fare and really isn't trying to challenge anyone on a cerebral level. There is a lot of what I call "magical science" where they have instant answers through some computer or a machine that can synthesize something instantly. Nonsense like this are things we'd find in the original cartoon. That's what this is. it's a cartoon with enough of a budget to hire real people. Along the way they decided to make this kids movie feature all the things the adults were begging for in the first place. Other than Casey and Shredder they achieved what they set out to do and in the end I think kids will love this and fans will find things they can sincerely enjoy along the way.

And stay during the credits. There's not a stinger but the song they play will make you smile.

[easyreview title= "Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT Revamping a beloved franchise isn't an easy task. Just ask Michael Bay, he gets an incredible amount of well deserved hate for his reboot of the Transformers series which are indeed garbage. However, they make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office so someone likes them. I am not one of those people. So, it stands as no surprise that when he announced that he would have a hand in bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle back to the big screen everyone had there reservations. After over a year of controversy and script rewrites and fan hate before the movie even came out once again, director Johnathan Liebsman and the John Cena of the film industry delivers a movie you'll either accept for what it is or rip to shreds.

The movie opens with a brief voice over by Splinter voiced by Tony Shalhoub about how the Turtles are about to face there biggest threat NYC has ever seen. Of course if you are well versed in the Turtle lore you know he is talking about the foot clan. They want to "reclaim" the city for some reason. April O'Neil played surprisingly solid by Megan Fox is introduced as a head strong reporter who isn't happy with her station at the Channel 6 News. She wants to cover the hard hitting (no pun intended) news that's taking place in the city but she's stuck reporting on the feel good stories with her trusty cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett). Once she goes out on her own to find out whats going down she brings information back to her boss Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg). She's basically laughed out the room. It's not clever or inventive but it gets the movie going.

Once the Turtles are on screen we are introduced to four six foot plus hulking beasts. You've got Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville) Raphael (Alan Ritchson) Donetello (Jeremy Howard) and Michelangelo (Noe Fisher). They look like they're on steroids and you know what, I've got no problem with there redesigns. I don't know what a giant bipedal turtle looks like but I'd have to imagine, they might look like this. Once the whole crew is acclimated to each other we are treated to the new incredibly convenient origin story of the turtles and master splinter. It's far fetched but I wasn't mad at it. I feel like the origin story was created to simply showcase O'Neil a little more then she needed to be.

The best parts of the film are the Turtles interactions with each other. They actually feel like they're brothers. The dialog between them is amusing more often then not and the comradery was actually endearing. The humans take a backseat to these four halfway through the movie as it should be. I didn't come to see people talking to each other, I came to see Turtles beat people up. It didn't disappoint. The fight sequences between them were actually coherent. Liebsman pulled the camera back so we could actually see what the hell was happening on screen. When they go toe to toe with Shredder who is the main villian of the film all of those sequences were damn entertaining. The stand out set piece is easily the downhill chase sequence.

Speaking of Shredder, this brings me to the worst aspect of the film: The villains motivation. It really makes no sense whatsoever. It's the worst Saturday morning cartoon motivation you can think of. Maybe that was the point but come on man, do better. I don't know which one was worse The Dark Knight Rises or this (Yeah I said it and what?). William Fichtner's performance as the evil Millionaire Sachs was fine but then again I've never seen a bad performance by him. He really didn't need to exercise his acting chops. No one does honestly. It all boils down to the Turtles in action and if nothing else, it at least delivered on that front.

I'm probably going to be in the minority but the kid in me that used to watch the cartoon every day and still loves the original live action movie enjoyed it. Is it a good movie? By hollywood standards probably not. To me, it accomplishes what it sets out to do and it's incredibly entertaining. There were some genuine laughs throughout the movie and those of use that know the turtles will appreciate the nods to the cartoon intro, the script controversy and a host of other things. It never takes itself too seriously and it shouldn't. I've no doubt that the movie will be slammed by critics for being brain dead and stupid but let's just remember what the name of the movie is. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.

[easyreview title= "Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cat1title="Terrence's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]