BIG ASS SPOILER WARNING!!!
Due to this review requiring the mention of the plot, characters and other things, consider this a BIG ASS SPOILER WARNING! This is a BIG ASS SPOILER WARNING!! Do not complain about spoilers when I’m telling you NOW that I’m going to be talking about spoilers!
BIG ASS SPOILER WARNING!!!
Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Production company: Nickelodeon Movies, Platinum Dunes, & Movie Media Group
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Dave Green
Produced by: Michael Bay
Starring: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Brittany Ishibashi, Laura Linney, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, lan Ritchson, Gary Anthony Williams, Tony Shalhoub, Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly & Brad Garrett
Australia: June 9, 2016
United States: June 3, 2016
Running time: 112 minutes
Rating: Pg-13 (US) / M (Australia)
Just in case you haven’t noticed. Things have been getting very Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-like here at The Outerhaven recently. From me doing things like going over my childhood wishlist in 10 TMNT Toys I Would Have Killed for as a Kid, to posting about the return of Vanilla Ice to create a new version of Ninja Rap, Keith covering the release of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game, and finally me once again, ranking the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. Well now comes the grand finale. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Will this movie be a top spot contender to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie crown? Or will it be the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3? Let’s take an in depth look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
I’ll try and be as brief as possible with things here, just like the movie was. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows isn’t exactly plot heavy to begin with. We join the Turtles one year after they defeated Shredder in the last movie. After a lot of character introduction and reintroduction, things pick up with The Foot Clan (With help from Baxter Stockman) trying to break Shredder out during a prison transfer, which also happens to also have Bebop & Rocksteady in the same van. The van has prison officer Casey Jones in the passenger seat, giving him a chance to become part of the world. During the escape/break out attempt, Shredder is teleported from the van to the control deck of the Techodrome, where we meet Commander Krang and the two forge an alliance to find the three missing pieces of the teleport device that will bring the Technodrome into our world.
Shredder recruits Bebop & Rocksteady officially and brings the two with him to see Baxter Stockman, who uses a vile of Ooze that Krang gave Shredder to “de-evolve” Bebop & Rocksteady into their mutant forms. April, being the snooping reporter that she is, sees this all happen, grabs the vial of Ooze and takes off into the night pursued by members of The Foot Clan. Enter Casey Jones, who turned vigilante after receiving a suspension from the NYPD or where ever he worked.
Leonardo is having doubts about being a good leader. Splinter talks up the whole “Family” angle. Donatello figures out that the Ooze can turn them human for some reason, which would make them able to live among the rest of the world (This appeals to Raph & Mikey) and leads to the usual infighting that happens in the second act of a by-the-numbers film. The brothers are caught during a mission to recover the Ooze, which is in the hands of the NYPD after April was chased by The Foot Clan, which makes things worse for them. Shredder finds the second piece of the teleportation device, while Bebop & Rocksteady find the third in Brazil and we get a LONG action sequence involving skydiving, a plane crash, and a tank.
With all three pieces assembled, the Technodrome begins to assemble piece by piece in the skies over New York. Krang betrays Shredder and turns Shredder into an ice cube. The Turtles appear in front of the NYPD and through some actions by Vern, Casey & April; make an alliance of peace with the NYPD and begin the plan to confront Krang. They do so, send the Technodrome back through to portal and close it as Krang exclaims “I’ll be back!”. The Turtles are given the keys to the city by the Police Chief and the day is saved again.
Here’s the TD;DR version: Take the plot of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, replace Alpha Trion with Shredder, Megatron with Krang, those annoying twins from Revenge of the Fallen with Bebop & Rocksteady, throw in Leonardo’s inner turmoil junk from TMNT, mix with A LOT of nostalgia and bad jokes; and you have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Now this next bit is going to be a long one. There are A LOT of characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Since this is the first time I have reviewed one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films on this site, I’m going to cover every single one of them. So you might want to skip this if you don’t care about performance and all that junk.
Pete Ploszek as Leonardo: Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the exact same as the one from TMNT. He’s a troubled Turtle that is having a hard time working out the balance of being a leader with being a part of a family. He takes his time to make the plans and expects everyone to follow his word as law… Till the third act when he realizes that he needs to work with the individual personalities of his brothers. Pete’s voice work in this is spot on. You feel the weight of the world on Leonardo’s shoulders with every word he speaks. Very well done.
Alan Ritchson as Raphael: Rapheal is a big bruiser. He just wants to get out there and bust heads. Hell, he’s the only one who sounds like he has lived in New York his whole life. Alan’s voice work here is dead on. You get the gruff and tough sounding New York bully that you would usually see in after school Disney channel specials. Probably one of the best Rapheal voices out there.
Noel Fisher as Michelangelo: Mikey is the dreamer in this film. He wants to get above the sewers and mingle with the people. Think Ariel from The Little Mermaid with a mix of Californian Surfer Dude and you’ve got Noel’s performance in a nutshell. Though Noel and the character, in general, are let down by some really badly written and timed jokes that, while I got a slight chuckle out of from time to time, it reminded me of how bad Mikey’s jokes were in the later parts of the original cartoon series.
Jeremy Howard as Donatello: Donatello in this film is just what you expect: He’s the brains of the outfit, has all the gadgets and is near impossible to comprehend. Jeremy’s performance here is fast and technical, just like the character. Again, like Mikey, the writing just had him do his gimmick: Being a nerd. It’s a shame that we couldn’t see something more develop for the Donatello character than just be the guy who explains the things and does the stuff that needs to be done to get the plot moving.
Tony Shalhoub as Splinter: To be honest here, Splinter is extremely downplayed in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. He appears to talk with Leonardo, being the guiding light for the lost Turtle; and he get’s a joke in at the expense of Casey Jones. Otherwise, he really has nothing to do with this film. It’s a shame, though, because Tony brings the right mix of wise Sensei, grumpy old man and wisecracking joker into the role.
Gary Anthony Williams as Bebop: LOVE THIS CASTING! Perfection in every term. Gary as Bebop is like the original cartoon became live action. I swear, if Gray didn’t study his ass off for this role, he was a TMNT fan. A wisecracking Bebop is a perfect addition to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. In human form, he doesn’t look all that out of place in his purple glasses and mohawk. As a Warthog, he just draws the attention of the viewer every moment he is on screen. Brilliant casting.
Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly as Rocksteady: Talk about off-putting. I know this probably comes more from me being a WWE fan and seeing Sheamus cutting promos all the time and screaming “FELLA!” at the top of his voice, but this really didn’t work for me. As a human he looked the part, and as a Rhino he was also looking the part; however the Irish accent that Sheamus has just does not work for the character at all. Everytime I heard this big CGI mutant Rhino talking, all I could see is the Ginger Ass Kicker from the WWE. As a duo, though, I’ll give the writers credit, they kept these two dumb, but not insultingly dumb; and they were entertaining from beginning to end… They are the true stars of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Brad Garrett as Krang: Oh god… Excuse me for a moment while I go bash my head into a wall to forget this terrible performance… Seriously, I just walked over to my wall and smashed my head into it a few times. Yes, this is THAT BAD. I dunno what is is about Brad Garrett, but you know from the SECOND he speaks one word that it’s him. I couldn’t buy into him as Krang at all. What didn’t help was the Spider-Man 3 levels of “we need to see his face” that was done to Krang. Almost every moment Krang is one screen, he’s out of his Android Body attached to these Doctor Octopus arms yapping away in dialogue that you could tell that they were waving the cheque Brad would get at the end once he was done reading his lines. A total waste of a villain… And yes, the Android Body looked like a bad Robocop cosplay.
Megan Fox as April O’Neil: Wow, this was an 180 turn around to something bad. In the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, I actually was able to get past Fox’s bad acting and thought she didn’t make such a bad April. This was mostly due to her actually trying to be the character she is meant to be… However, this time, around we got Megan Fox. she walks around in tight tops, doing stupid shit just to make her look ‘sexy’ and she flirts with Casey Jones for no reason at all! My god, how could you fuck up a character between films so badly!?
Stephen Amell as Casey Jones: I’m going, to be honest here, they fucked up. First of all, they have Casey Jones as a Prison Officer or NYPD Officer (They seem to switch back and forth during the film, so even the writers couldn’t keep it straight) and he just so happens to play Hockey as a form of Anger Management. So this isn’t the street-hardened guy with a troubled past which shaped him into the night stalking vigilante we know, he’s just an obsessed cop with a grudge against Bebop & Rocksteady and just so happens to find April and fall in with the Turtles. As for acting… It’s Stephen Amell. He’s just being Arrow with worse writing.
Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick: I don’t know what to think about this character nor the man playing the character. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has Vern taking credit for the defeat of Shredder due to some deal with the Turtles, (which is never explained) and he calls himself “The Falcon”. If anything, Vern is just there to help April & Casey in the third act and that’s about it. There was no reason for him to be in the movie except for that one scene. Will’s performance really did seem phoned in too, which really doesn’t help matters.
Brian Tee as Shredder: With the exception of Shredder being taken out of action just before the finale of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, the character is more like the threatening menace that he was meant to be from the beginning. Everyone either fears him or… Well, they just fear him. Brain is on point with his performance. He’s direct and to the point, just like Shredder should be. Again, it’s a shame he was cast aside in the finale for some nostalgia driven fight between the Turtles and Krang.
Tyler Perry as Dr. Baxter Stockman: Hey IMDB; you’re telling me that this wasn’t Neil deGrasse Tyson!? Tyler did a GREAT job as the science obsessed Baxter Stockman. He’s egotistical, a bit jokeish, and so obsessed with getting his place in the history books that he is willing to overlook the fact that he is working for Shredder and playing around with Alien technology that he really should have no reason to be playing with. I thought this is the BEST Baxter Stockman out of all the different versions that are out there. Now bring him back in the third film and turn him into a fly please!
And keep an eye out for Kevin Eastman in a cameo.
So things that worked in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows? Well, the henchmen roles (Bebop, Rocksteady & Baxter Stockman) are the real stars of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Their performances are well written, decently acted and just draw your attention for every moment those three characters are on screen.
The Turtles themselves come off really good too… When they aren’t put into a really stupid “We can’t trust each other” moment in the second act. I’m even getting used to them being the way they look. Sure, the weird nose thing is still there, but it isn’t as annoying as it was the first time I saw it in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Shredder came off as a great villain, and he no longer looks like some stupid overdone can opener. His redesign is perfect and I really wanted to see more of him in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. We also had a non-named role of Karai in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows too which was great to see, even though it was underplayed in the writing department.
I also had a few laughs in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows too. I’m glad that there was something to get excited about during this almost 2-hour romp.
What Didn’t Work
Can I just say that when you go to such lengths to take the plot of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and just rip it right the fuck off that it comes off as annoying? Yeah, I can. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ plot is nothing more than a rip-off and it was such a terrible feeling walking out of the cinema with my little brother and having HIM point that out to me. Out of all the things you could rip off, why did it have to be one of the worst Transformer movies? And speaking of Transformers. Yes, that is a screenshot of someone dressed as Bumblebee talking to Mikey… Because they were both iconic 1980’s brands and both have Micheal Bay involved in their film adaptations… GET THE JOKE!?
The inclusion of Chief Vincent is one of the most annoying addition to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. The character is nothing more than a bitching road block to getting in the way of Casey Jones, April & the Turtles. I hated this character from the moment I saw her and it was just teeth grinding horrible to sit through.
The way Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows treated both Shredder and Karai should be outlawed. Shredder finally gets to be the bad ass that he should have been and he gets shelved because the writers decided to make Krang the final villain that the Turtles took on. It’s not like Shredder wasn’t a force to be reckoned with through the whole film or anything. He only creates Bebop & Rocksteady, gathers the pieces of the teleportation device and all that shit, only to be FROZEN and stored away before the final fight scene… ARGH!! As for Karai, well shit, the character was never named for one thing. She was a bad ass and looked cool, but she never did anything at all worth mentioning except get her ass handed to her by VERN AND APRIL! Fuck me this was a bad way to treat some good villains.
Nostalgia. This movie LIVES off the whole nostalgia kick. From Bebop & Rocksteady, to using the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song (and another old school Ninja Rap) in the closing credits. This whole movie tries too hard to be one of those films that sit there nudging you going “Hey! Isn’t this great!? You remember this classic tune right? How about this line?” or “Hey! They referenced something you enjoyed as a kid, isn’t this movie great!”. This movie isn’t great, it comes off as pandering to two groups: little kids and nostalgic adults… And does so very badly.
Look, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows isn’t a bad movie. But it’s not a good movie either.
The problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to do within its own world. From Casey’s job not being clear to who is meant to be the main villain of the movie; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is just one big mess with no direction. Nostalgia will keep a lot of die-hard fans like myself from ripping Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a new asshole, but at the same time it’s not going to be enough to keep kids entertained.
I took my little brother with me to see this as we are both huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans and he came out of it more disappointed than I did with the experience. He didn’t like Krang but enjoyed Bebop & Rocksteady. He wondered why they used the plot from Transformers: Dark of the Moon and not just stick with Shredder being a threat. I agree with him. There’s nothing here that makes sense except that Bebop & Rocksteady are the real stars of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
If anything, this feels like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze did. A more kid friendly movie that just comes off as annoying when viewed in the wrong light. That light being a $16 cinema ticket. Hopefully, the third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie will be something better… It can’t be worse than the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 right? RIGHT!?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is what happens when you take bits and pieces from other films and try to add enough nostalgia that people will forget that your movie is a complete mess. Outside of Bebop, Rocksteady & Baxter Stockman; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is nothing more than a rental at most… Once it hits the weekly section or is heavily discounted online.
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