Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows : Movie Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, is the sequel to the 2014 reboot of the heroes in a half shell ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. Directed by David Green and produced by Michael Bay, this sequel sees our heroes on an epic quest to save the world from annihilation by the despicable alien commander Krang.

First off, let me say I have been a huge TMNT fan since the 80's, and have indulged in all versions of TMNT from the 80's Mirage comic, 90's cartoon, 2002 cartoon, the 2012 Nickelodeon cartoon, as well as all 5 films preceding OOTS. I have seen a lot of online criticism thrown at this current reboot, with people claiming it’s ‘killing their childhood’. Frankly, if a film can kill your childhood, you probably didn’t have one to begin with. While this new reboot is not my favorite version of the ninja heroes, it still does an adequate job of portraying the characters. My main gripe is with the turtles look, which in my opinion needs to be a little shorter, and less bulky. It would only help serve the Ninja dynamic if they didn’t look like steroid abusing muscle heads.

Unlike its predecessor, OOTS places its focus on the four turtles with the human cast taking a back seat, and the movie is much better for it. The characterizations are spot on, the banter is enjoyable, and the voice work fits perfectly. The turtle’s individual traits shine in this film as we see Leo struggle with forming a team dynamic, Donnie displaying various gadgets and technical knowledge, Mikey being charmingly funny, and Raph showing despite his anger issues he truly has a heart of gold.  The human cast on the other hand, are not as strong, especially April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox. April has always been a strong character in all iterations of TMNT, and it’s kind of disappointing to see her character denigrated to the sexy sidekick. One such scene shows our heroine dressing up as a sexy schoolgirl to distract the bad guy, and while Fox is great at creating sex appeal, I just don’t think it does justice to Aprils character, and serves more as a vehicle to satisfy the primal needs of the films main demographic, young men. Stephen Amell gives an adequate performance as Casey Jones, and Will Arnet outshines his mediocre dialogue through his comedic talents to give as a great performance as the morally shady ex-cameraman Vernon Fenwick.

Bebop and Rocksteady are a welcome addition to the film, as fan favorites from the 90's cartoon. However their dialogue fell flat for me on most occasions, and I feel their potential was wasted with fart jokes and nose picking. I get this isn’t a high brow movie, but I feel the writers could have made them more like their cartoon counterparts by lowering their IQ a little more and resorting to more obvious dumb jokes. The remaining villains served the story well. Shredder has been toned down from the first film and now looks more like a ninja, and less like a robot. His female sidekick Karai had little to no dialogue and mostly scowled dramatically in the background like a villain from the Power Rangers. Tyler Perry did a good job as Baxter Stockman, bringing a geeky charm to the villain, and Krang looked a lot more menacing than his cartoon counterpart, and was voice well by Brad Garret.

The story is the same old unoriginal formula of, find this, this and this to save the world from this, and it mostly serves as a vehicle to set up the next big battle. The battle scenes however are amazing, and incredibly fun to watch, like a visual roller coaster ride of amazing, unnatural feats. That’s pretty much all this film is, and if you are able to switch off your brain, enjoy the action, jokes and eye candy, you are probably going to have a good time. Remember, it’s a film about four talking turtles saving the world from an alien commander, it’s not supposed to taken seriously. If you want a dark version of the TMNT world, we still have the original 80's Mirage comic book, and to a lesser extent the first film released in 1989. The movie pays much homage to the 90's cartoon and I think fans who grew up with the cartoon will get more out of this film.

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