Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows Review: A Mixed Bowl of Turtle Soup
As a die hard fan of the Ninja Turtles since 1987, the 2014 reboot made me mad. It honestly felt that no one involved understood or knew anything about the Ninja Turtles at all. To be 100% honest, when I watched that film it felt like Paramount obtained the rights to the characters and didn’t know what to do with the material. Needless to say, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth and couldn’t get excited for the sequel, no matter how hard I tried.
Out of The Shadows opens with Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo still struggling with who they are. The four brothers have given all the credit of their first outing to Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) and remain unknown to the public. As the turtles continue to search for their place in the human world, April O’Neil discovers Shredder will soon be transported from a local prison to go on trial. With the help of Donatello, April continues to investigate and learns that scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) plans to help Shredder escape and then uses a substance he obtained from Krang to create an army of mutated creatures. It is now up to the Turtles, April, and newcomer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) to stop Shredder from destroying the world once again.
Lets get this out of the way right away: the 2014 reboot is a monstrosity. That film shit all over everything that I loved about the Ninja Turtles. Out of the Shadows is a decent sequel but I still have major issues with it. On one hand, I felt like someone who truly loved and grew up with Ninja Turtles was making the film but then suddenly someone who didn’t know a single thing about the Ninja Turtles stepped in and messed with the material. The result is an entertaining yet unbalanced mashup of everything from the 1987 cartoon series to the Turtles in Time arcade game.
As someone who grew up and pretty much spent 1987 to 1993 obsessing over the Ninja Turtles, I would be lying if I didn’t feel like a kid again while watching certain moments of this film. Just the mentioning of the Technodrome made me smile. The whole garbage truck sequence felt as though it was ripped directly from the cartoon series. The introduction of beloved villains such as Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady and Baxter Stockman were a welcome treat even though I do I have issues with how the film handled some of the characters. Hell, even Shredder and the Foot Clan were utilized much better this time around.
The whole introduction of Casey Jones is not the way that it was in the original 1990 film nor the cartoon series. He was never a cop and his backstory from the cartoon isn’t explained in this film. He also didn’t look like the Casey Jones that I knew growing up but I do think Stephen Amell did a decent enough job as Jones. His character isn’t a major issue but will most likely bug loyal fans like myself.
A big issue is the characters and their personality traits. Everyone already has pointed out that Megan Fox shouldn’t be playing April O’ Neil. I don’t think she’s even remotely believable as the character but I will say that this time around, her role isn’t as major so that helps a bit. The characters of Bebop and Rocksteady were two of my favorites from the animated series and video games. They were always portrayed as silly but the film took that concept and went too far with it. There is actually a scene where after being mutated from humans to animals where the duo compares their penis size. I really wish I was joking but sadly I am not. Also, once again, their origin story doesn’t line up with the original source material. I won’t go into detail but if you are a fan, you will instantly know what I mean when you see the film.
The character of Krang is one that I also really enjoy and felt was pretty on-par with how I imagined he would look like outside of the cartoon series. I think Brad Garrett was a great choice for the voice and really liked what the story did with him. It felt very much like it related to the Turtles in Time video game. I will say that I didn’t like the whole “Super Krang” body type as it reminded me of a Transformer rather than someone I would see in the Ninja Turtles world.
The biggest surprise of all the casting was Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman. I was nervous about Tyler Perry playing this role but really I think out of all the new additions to the cast, he fit the part perfectly. Perry really embraced the character and captured his nerdy goofiness. He felt like a character ripped out of a comic book or a cartoon which was refreshing considering it lived up to the source material. I was also grateful that even though the film introduces the character, he isn’t a major part of the film and will be more than likely used more in the sequel.
As for the turtles, I think this updated version embraces the characters of Donatello and Michelangelo from the original films and series. I think they make these two characters almost identical to how they are viewed by fans who grew up with these characters in the 80s and 90s. Leonardo and Raphael are not really the same at all. I think Raphael is probably the worst turtle simply because he seems like a meathead who spends all his time at the gym working out. Raphael was always the cool turtle but here he is more of this wannabe boss/bully and is just unlikable.
The film features far too much slow motion and way too many action sequences that seem to be a Michael Bay staple of anything that he is involved in. I won’t deny that some of these sequences are pretty visually stunning and engaging but after a while they become repetitive and boring. I think the same can be said for the special effects overall. I would say that about 90% of this film is all CGI and while its amazing with how far the effects have come over the years, it does hurt the film that most of it doesn’t ever feel real like say the live action The Jungle Book from earlier this year.
Just like all the recent big budget franchises, Out of the Shadows tries to do too much in one film. There are so many characters being introduced and way too many stories being hinted upon or set up. There is no doubt that the film feels overstuffed. The music choices for the most part do fit the tone of the film and there are plenty of song selections throughout the film that should please fans of the originals and cartoon series.
All in all, Out of the Shadows is a major step in the right direction for the Ninja Turtles franchise. While the film is still a far cry from perfection, there is much more to like about this entry than the previous one. The storylines and character traits don’t always line up but it was nice to see that someone involved with the project actually was a fan of the these characters. I think as this franchise goes on it will only get better and after this one, I am very excited to see what plays out with Baxter, Shredder, and Krang. I can only hope that the Ninja Turtles are here to stay as they get more and more people involved that love these characters as much as I do.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a 6.5 out of 10.