Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Director: Dave Green

Writers: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry, Stephen Amell, Brian Tee, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Stephen Farrelly, Gary Anthony Williams, Peter Donald Badalamenti II

Voice Cast: Tony Shalhoub, Brad Garrett

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.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence

Stevennix2001's Rating:

4 / 10

Pros:

  • Great special effects
  • Actions scenes are great. Arguably the best that I've seen out of any "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film
  • Cinematography was great. Everything was shot very well. Give you a lot of wide angled shots to give you the full scope of New York, while still giving us plenty up close action.
  • 3-D images were captured well.
  • The focus was more on the turtles this time than April O'Neal, so that's a huge improvement.
  • The subplot about the turtles possibly having a choice to be human again was interesting, but why didn't any of them ever think to ask Master Splinter for his thoughts on it?
  • Will Arnett was funny

Cons:

  • Story was generically stupid
  • While I'm sure Stephen Amell is a fine actor in "Arrow", he kind of sucks here. If anything, he comes off as a male equivalent to Megan Fox, who still can't act for s**t.
  • Speaking of Megan, she's still a horrible actress. And while I'm sure I'm probably blowing any real shot at scoring a date with her by badmouthing her on the internet, I cannot tell a lie. She sucks, and this film is no different. Definitely easy on the eyes, but her performances are still ugly as sin.
  • Clunky exposition involving Casey's character feels forced and unnecessary given the circumstances.
  • The romance between Casey and April felt forced, as it was more based on appearances than any actual chemistry. But then again, what do you expect when you get two romantic leads that can't act?
  • The subplot about Will's character is laughably stupid, as it makes you wonder how stupid people of New York are to fall for his lame story of being the one who took down Shredder, in the first movie.
  • It's never explained why the foot clan are suddenly ninjas.
  • While it did have a great subplot about a new purple ooze being able to make the turtles human, it never goes over it as much as you'd like it to.
  • The fight scene with Krang made little sense. Instead of hitting Krang directly, whenever he popped out of his robot body to taunt them, they'd always hit the robotic parts of him instead. Granted, I know they couldn't show any blood in this movie, but wouldn't it make more sense to hit Krang directly instead of his robot parts?
  • The setup for Krang and Shredder forming an alliance seemed forced, and makes Shredder look like an idiot.
  • A lot of the scenes in this movie were horribly directed
  • Some of the dialogue was bad, and sometimes felt too on the nose at times.

When all else fails for a movie franchise, you pander the s**t out of it to your audience

While most online film critics on youtube are praising this movie for how much it feels like a remake of the first few episodes of the 80's cartoon show it's based on, I'm just going to be telling you this movie freaking sucks. While some fans of this franchise were outright pissed about the changes in the last film, my main issue with it wasn't so much the changes per se, but rather how little the changes made any cohesive sense, and every change they made was for the worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these old prudes that expects every adaptation to be a hundred percent faithful to the source material because that's unrealistic, but I do expect them to keep the key essential elements that made the characters who they are.

In Michael Bay's reboot, he not only made drastic changes, but a lot of the changes stripped away the basic elements that made the characters who they were, which is why the reboot failed. Granted, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" does offer a lot of fan pandering, and drastic rewrites to the story to make it more faithful to the 1980's cartoon, but none of the drastic changes to appease the fans addresses the main issue of them stripping away the key essential elements to the characters, from the previous film.

In the first movie, the turtles and Master Splinter were April's pets before they became anthropomorphic creatures because of the Ooze. However, here's the problem with that. Whether we go by the comics, or any of the previous cartoon shows, the key essential element that connected Shredder and the turtles was Humato Yoshi's rivalry with Aroko Saki (aka the Shredder). Without that key essential element, there's really no connection between Shredder's rivalry with the Turtles other than he happens to be the antagonist that they have to stop. Granted, I understand they couldn't change that because this is technically a sequel to the last film, but it's worth pointing out.

However, the movie tries it's best to wright the ship, by giving fans exactly what they want by pandering the hell out of it. Were you one of those 80's kids that was disappointed by the fact that Toka and Razar were in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" instead of Bebop and Rocksteady? Well have no fear because they give us Bebop and Rocksteady. No different iterations, nor different takes on the characters. Nope, you pretty much get the exact same Bebop and Rocksteady, from the 80's show. But wait! There's more.

Casey Jones is back, as he's always a fan favorite. We also have Krang show up, with the technodrome. No rhyme or reason why the f**k Shredder would team up with his a**, but whatever. It's there to amuse you people, so enjoy. Shredder no longer uses a mechanical suit, and the foot soldiers are ninjas again. No explanation why they went from gun toting terrorists, from the first movie, to suddenly becoming trained ninjas in this one, but whatever. You wanted it, so you got it. It seems Michael Bay, and the director (Dave Green), did just about everything to give fans exactly what they wanted, as they pandered the s*** out of this entire movie so much that it almost feels like a love letter to the fans.

However, the movie still freaking sucks. For starters, let's talk about the narrative inconsistencies with this story. The changes to the foot clan to become ninjas. I get it. Fans wanted the foot clan to be ninjas like in the cartoon, so Bay and Green gave them exactly what they wanted. You have to appease your fans right? But here's the problem....how do you go from a terrorist organization that uses guns, bombs and various other high tech weapons to suddenly using ninjitsu weapons like swords, ninja stars and etc? At no point in this film is it ever explained other than the fact that the movie treats itself like a cartoon, so we're not supposed to take it seriously. Don't get me wrong, I understand what this film was going for, but the only issue is that when you make drastic changes like this without some sort of explanation, then it just confuses your audience.

Granted, I know the movie was trying to make this change to keep fans happy, but there were other ways they could've done this without it feeling contrived. In "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" for instance, that film also had to deal with the prospect of being a quasi sequel reboot to a movie that most people didn't like in "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra." "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" basically set itself up as a sequel in it's first act, but it killed off various key characters like Duke, and Destro, so it wouldn't have any connection with the previous film moving forward. This not only allowed "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" not to deal with the prospect of Duke and Cobra Commander being former best friends, as it was established in the previous movie, but it also allowed it move forward to become a soft reboot, as it kept some of the things that fans liked (i.e. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadows' rivalry), while getting rid of the aspect that fans didn't like. Don't get me wrong, it was still a s*** movie for various reasons, but it did handle the transition of being a quasi sequel reboot quite well, by at least addressing those sudden changes in the first act.

Whereas in this movie, it's never addressed why the foot clan are acting like ninjas. No brief explanation saying that maybe they might be a subdivision of the foot clan that's more into ninjitsu tactics. Nope, they just pretend like they've been ninjas that whole time, and we're not supposed to question it because the movie treats itself like a cartoon.

Another problem that I had with this movie was some of the dialogue and clunky exposition. Take Casey Jones for instance. When we first meet Casey, he's one of the cops in charge of delivering Shredder to prison. But due to a series unlikely events, Shredder escapes, and Casey takes the rap for it. After the head of the FBI questions him, she immediately dismisses him by saying "goodbye Mr. Jones." However, here's the weird part. He stops her saying, "It's officer Jones...well soon to be detective actually." After he says that one little line, he goes off on a tangent about how it's his lifelong dream to become a detective someday, but here's the problem. Why?

in context to the scene, it doesn't make any sense why Casey would bring that up. This literally happens after the FBI interrogates him about Shredder's escape. They suspend his a** for gross incompetence, and after the FBI agent is done interrogating him...he immediately goes on a tangent to tell her that he wants to be a detective someday? Take in mind, he doesn't know this FBI agent at all, as they just met. She showed zero interest in getting to know him, and she only asked him about Shredder's escape. Therefore, he has no reason to tell this woman any personal information about himself. The fact that he's telling her this stuff is clunky exposition that quite frankly isn't necessary; especially when you consider the fact that he basically reiterates this again when he's alone with April O'Neal in a future scene, which renders that part with the FBI agent pointless.

And speaking of Casey Jones, I'm not done criticizing his character yet because there's a lot to cover here. For starters, Stephen Amell was horribly miscast in this part. Granted, I've never seen him in "Arrow" before, so maybe he's a good actor in that series, but here he acts more like the male equivalent to Megan Fox. Someone who's pretty to look at, but sadly seems devoid of any kind of genuine personality.

And since he's portrayed as a pretty boy in this movie, it undermines who Casey Jones is as a character. Whether we go by any of the previous cartoon shows or comics, Casey was always a wandering bad a** vigilante, who would sooner beat the crap out of anyone if they even looked at him funny; let alone if they actually messed with him. Here, he comes across as a nice guy that tries to act tough. In one scene for instance, he's interrogating a bartender, who happens to know the whereabouts where Bebop and Rocksteady are. However, bartender refuses to talk, so Casey just starts to break random things around his bar to intimidate him. The bartender inevitably begs for Casey to stop, and then tells him exactly what he wants to know. Here's the problems that I have with this scene.

While I'm sure defenders of this film will say nonsensical s**t like, "oh but Steven. This movie treats itself like the original 80's cartoon, so you can't take it seriously blah blah." Yeah, but even the 80's show had more common sense than this particular scene. For starters, why the hell did this bartender give up his information that easily? We saw in an earlier scene that he clearly owns a freaking gun, so why not pull that out on Casey Jones? Or here's a thought, why not threaten to call the police? Casey has no proof that this bartender knows anything outside of gut intuition, so the law would be on the bartender's side. Secondly, all it took to get him to talk was breaking a few random items at his bar? Sheesh. Why the hell do Bebop and Rocksteady trust this guy again? Granted, I know they're both morons, but come on!

Seriously, if this guy was singing that easily, then I'd hate to see what kind of information he'd be giving up if Casey Jones would've just beaten the crap out of him, or held him over a ledge of a building; ala Batman style.

Add in the forced romance between Casey and April. A final fight scene that makes you question why the Turtles don't simply hit Krang whenever he's outside of his robot body taunting them, while they fight each other. A laughable subplot about Vernon (Will Arnett), who got all the credit for defeating the foot clan in the first movie. No, seriously..people literally do fall for this crap. And, you pretty much have the new movie in a nutshell.

Don't get me wrong. While there are a lot of bad things about this movie, there's still some good points about it too. For instance. The action scenes are amazing. While I can't say the action scenes in the earlier movies were disappointing, they certainly pale in comparison to the ones we're given in this movie. Not only are the action scenes executed well, but you have to applaud how much the special effects were in this movie.

I especially loved the opening sequence, where we saw the turtles training during the night. The cinematography was shot perfectly, as it made you feel like you were right there; especially if you're able to see it in 3-D. However, the biggest thing that this film had going for it was a mysterious new purple ooze that created Bebop and Rocksteady.

Unlike the previous adaptations, this new ooze can apparently turn the turtles into human beings. While the scientific explanation behind this is a bit iffy at best, I will say that it does present an interesting concept to bring up. Here, you have a chance to explore the possibility of the turtles being labeled as freaks in the world, and they finally might have a choice to be like everyone else. This brings up an interesting internal conflict within the team dynamic that explores what it means to be normal vs just being yourself. One analogy that might be similar to this is the concept of homosexuality.

Like if you were born gay, and suddenly there was a miracle drug that turns gay people straight, then you have to ask yourself one question. Do you take the drug in an effort to fit in with most of society? Or do you not take it because you'd rather embrace who you really are? It's not an easy question to answer, and it differs from person to person. In this particular case, Leo thinks that they're fine the way they are, and shouldn't have to change to conform to society, while Raphael and Michaelangelo yearn to be like everyone else.

It's definitely an intriguing concept to explore that's eerily reminiscent of what "X-Men: The Last Stand" tried to pull off ages ago. However, this little plot device is barely touched upon, as there's only a few scenes that address it.

Overall, I will say this movie is a lot better than the previous one, but if you look past all the fan pandering crap that it shoves in front of you, then you come to realize it's still not a great movie.

While I'm sure defenders of this film will use the ye old excuse of "Oh it's like the 80's cartoon, so you can't take it seriously", which is technically true. However, I think the fans that are saying that are kind of underestimating the original 80's show a bit. Sure, I'll be the first to admit the 80's show was far from perfect, nor would I say it was ever realistic.

But, here's a few things to keep in mind. In the 80's show, it was always vague about how Shredder and Krang came together, and Shredder doesn't show up again until years later, after Master Yoshi got transformed into an anthropomorphic rat.

And considering it was literally years since Humato Yoshi and Aroko Saki last saw each other, you can at least reason that a lot of things may have happened between that point that would lead Shredder to forming an alliance with Krang. Whereas here, Krang shows up, and tells him that he wants to take over the world, and Shredder joins him on the promise of power? They never even met before, yet Shredder is suddenly going to trust him? Granted, Krang does try to screw Shredder over, in the original cartoon.

However, it's never explained how long they were a team before meeting up with the turtles years later. Therefore, he may have lured Shredder into a false sense of security over time, in order to form their alliance. Whereas here, all it took was Krang saying, "Yo, I'm taking over the world. I'll even help you get rid of the turtles. You in?" Granted, he doesn't say it in those exact words, but this is just to give readers the general gist of it. Honestly, this just makes Shredder look like a moron, which even makes the 80's cartoon seem more sophisticated by comparison.

Not to mention the clunky exposition involving Casey Jones' character, with the FBI agent. The forced romance. The bad acting by Amell and Fox. And of course, the lousy direction and lazily written dialogue.

While I'm sure your average nine to five year old kid will probably love this movie for it's flashy imagery, the rest of us can always go back to the original movies because it seems like it'll be quite a while before we'll ever get a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film that's worth seeing.

© 2016 Steven Escareno

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Comments 2 comments

CYong74 profile image

CYong74 5 months ago from Singapore

I think the underlying problem is that Michael Bay is ultimately an ad director, not a movie director. And while he didn't direct this, that continues to show. Story is disregarded, set pieces, static ones that is, are emphasised. The audience needs to reminisce? Throw them in the face reminders! As quickly and as simply as possible! Wait, do it like ad placements! Just drop the name and figure in. Personally, I don't mind this too much, once I've conditioned myself to be ready for it, that is. But given a choice, I'd watch the new TV series over this, anytime.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 months ago

My hubby watched the film, I could not really get into the plot and action. I agree with your review of the film, it was directed badly.

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