TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES OUT OF THE SHADOWS; Directed by Dave Green; Written by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec; Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher and Jeremy Howard; Running time 122 min; Rated PG-13 for action sci-fi violence; In wide release June 3, 2016.
The previous TMNT movie was met with a lot of mixed review from both fans and critics alike. While it was fun to see the mythos brought to life for the new generation, many thought that the final product didn’t even pass muster from the original movies and cartoon. Plenty liked it a lot though, so of course we were going to get a sequel. “Out of the Shadows” offers fans of the cartoon a lot to love as it more than pays service to the best parts of that, but is it a worthy follow up to the classic we know and love? Three turtles-lovers banded together to share our thoughts and let you know exactly how we felt about it.
Adam: I actively hated the last TMNT movie, and I believe I reviewed it as my least favorite film of the year. I honestly go into every movie hoping that I will enjoy myself, but in comparison to what had come before, I figured it I left and didn’t hate this one, then it would be a win. I can honestly say that while it’s still not good, it was much better than the original. What “Out of the Shadows” does so well is pay homage and try to recapture the magic of the 80s cartoon show. Almost everything we loved about that is represented or at least given lip service here. Rocksteady, Bebop, Krang, the Technodrome, etc. all at least star, cameo or are discussed, so for long time fans of the cartoon, there are a lot of fun moments and easter eggs to be had.
Randy: I didn’t hate the first one like Adam did, but I didn’t love it either. As a huge Ninja Turtles fan I really wanted the first movie to be better and sadly I was disappointed. That being said I went into this movie fully expecting for it to be awful. Let’s face it when you have an okay first movie the sequel rarely gets above the “straight to dvd” bar. However I was surprised with “Out of the Shadows”. I agree with Adam that everything I loved about the old cartoon is in this movie. Bebop and Rocksteady are exactly what I wanted them to be and the turtles seem more like themselves than in any other film adaption.
Cassidy: I’ve had a lot of time to think about this current Turtles franchise since the last movie hit theaters. I initially came out of that screening awash in nostalgia, subconsciously aware of the problems the movie had but unwilling to see them through my excitement. After repeat viewings of the first film my nostalgia goggles have cleared a bit and I can acknowledge the problems that movie had. Going into the screening for “Out of the Shadows” I was cautiously optimistic while mentally preparing myself to be sad and disappointed. I should have had more faith. This movie was an improvement on every level. The writing is better, the voice cast is better, the CGI is better, the character development and balance is better.
Adam: The problem is that most of the fans are now in their late 20s-30s, and just when you think it’s trying to cater to that audience, the movie dumbs itself down and tries to become a kid flick. And I’m not opposed to that, but you have to pick one or the other instead of flip flopping every five minutes. Kids will love the movie -- it’s bright, colorful, has a ton of action and switches between scenes so quickly it’s like it has ADD -- but adults are going to find it running thin by the time it ends with an anti-climactic battle with the final boss. Throw in one of the lamest “scientific” explanations for why Bebop and Rocksteady mutate into a warthog and rhino, respectively, along with a completely useless subplot about the Turtles becoming human, and you might fall asleep about halfway through.
Randall: I also feel like the film still struggles to find a good balance between being a kid movie and adult movie. It does better than the first but there is still a scene with April O’Neil (Megan Fox) sexing it up and there is also some language in the film that I think some parents wouldn’t want in a kid movie. On that same note though the film is rated PG-13 so before you take your 5 year old who loves the nickelodeon cartoon remember the teenage rating and know it has teenage humor mixed in with the PG humor you’re probably expecting.
Cassidy: One of the things the previous movie suffered from was a misunderstanding of what it was. It tried to hard to play to two audiences and as a result, didn’t play well to either. This time around it seems they had a clearer idea of what they wanted it to be. “Out of the Shadows” is essentially a live action version of the 80’s cartoon we all grew up with. If you were a fan of that show (and who wasn’t?) and you’re willing to put yourself into that headspace, you’re going to have a really good time.
This movie does require a massive suspension of disbelief. The science (if you can call it that) is questionable. I’m not sure you can even call this Baxter Stockman a scientist, he’s more of a tinkerer. Buying a ticket is signing a contract to swallow a massive spoonful of silliness. But that’s what the Turtles has always been. Yes, I’m aware that the original comics were dark and gritty, but even then, the basic premise is a satirical commentary on the superhero genre. This franchise isn’t The Dark Knight Turtles and never will be, if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll be sorely disappointed.
As I’ve said, many, many times before: when embarking into a Turtles story you can’t take anything too seriously. There will be those who cannot be satisfied, those who will hate it out of the gate because Bay’s name is attached. If you enjoyed the first movie you’re going to love this one, if you didn’t enjoy it you might still want to give this one a chance. Not everything is made by Stanley Kubrick.
Adam: The two hours drags on and makes the whole thing feel much longer especially when it rehashes the “we have to work as a team and a family” schtick from the first film. Had they cut out about 20-30 minutes of unneeded plot, it would have been much better for it. The one thing it does have going for it is how well the closeups on the Turtles look; they definitely spent a lot of time and money on the CGI getting their facial expressions just right. Apparently there wasn’t much left for Krang who looks like a wad of Bubble-Yum got smashed into a scrotum. So yeah, there could have been a good movie here, but it got buried under a ton of extraneous material that was only added in to drive marketing sales. But, kids will have fun with it, and it’s nowhere near as bad as the first even if the improvements aren’t as noticeable as I would have hoped. Who knows, if they keep up at this pace, we might finally have a good TMNT movie four or five down the line. 4 out of 10.
Randall: The turtles wanting to become human was a subplot that seemed to resolve itself very quickly and didn’t feel like there was much growth to the characters as they weighed their options as briefly as they did. The CGI on the turtles faces was amazing there’s no denying that. You could really see what emotions the turtles were experiencing and the facial expressions really helped bring out each brother's personality. One of my biggest complaints about the first movie other than the turtles being bullet proof was the lack of turtle vs foot clan fights. The second movie suffers from this as well. Other than the fight at the end with the main baddie there wasn’t a lot of ninja fighting. Which for a movie that has ninja in the title is disappointing. I would have liked to see more of the friendship that exists between Casey Jones and Raph come to light but that might be something they’re saving for the third movie. During the lame science explanation that Adam mentioned you can hear a groan followed by a disbelieving laugh ripple through the theater and it still pains me to think of what they did. All that being said it was a big improvement upon the first movie and all the easter eggs that took me back to my childhood were awesome. I think that nostalgic feeling I get seeing the Turtles on the big screen is why I’m okay with Donny knowing everything about anything after a few types on his keyboard. That's how the cartoon was, so for me it’s okay that it was that way in the movie. That's not the only thing that gets a pass either. I agree that kids will really love this movie, it has everything kids want in a movie and those of us that are kids at heart who fell in love with the animated turtles will enjoy it. Last night I said it was a 7 out of 10 but after sleeping on it I have to change my answer and dock it a point. It’s a 6 out 10 for me. But I love the anything TMNT so it’s safe to say that’s being generous.
Cassidy: Mikey is the breakout star of “Out of the Shadows” for me, every time he is on screen it is funny, without exception. He has one of my favorite scenes of the movie when he introduces himself and his brothers to Casey Jones. His commentary and even his expressions are perfect. Add into the mix a gumbo pot of gadgets, gizmos, and new villains and you’re in for one of the most self-aware Turtles adaptations to date. I’d put this one up there with the 2007 animated feature. 7 out of 10, I can’t wait to see it again with my kid.