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]