TMNT: OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Directed By: Dave Green
Produced By: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Scott Mednick, & Galen Walker
Written By: Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec
Premiered On: June 3, 2016
Distribution By: Paramount Pictures
As I’ve stated before when I reviewed the first film of this, hopeful, trilogy, I am a major fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, though I’ll admit that I’m not amongst the top percentage. My thoughts and opinions of the TMNT will always draw heavily upon the first animated series and the original live action trilogy, though mostly the first and second film. The less said of the third, the better.
Getting down straight to the grit with this film, let me make one thing clear. This film does not reek of the common tropes often attributed to Michael Bay. Oh yes, there’s still plenty of his signature style of film, such as motions too quick to follow, sudden slow motions to emphasize the “Oh crap!” moments, and explosions a plenty.
Yet… for all that these scenes were in this film, I did not feel like there was an obnoxious amount of them as there usually is, as those of CinemaSins can attest with the latest of the Transformers films. The real surprising aspect of the film is the fact that there was only one “mature minded” moment with April and while a bit stretched in believability, it was a sensible moment and done with surprising speed, at least for a film involving ol’ Bay.
Of the film itself… The best way that I can describe it is that it comes off as being a live action rendition of the original animated series. This in itself is both good and bad for a variety of reasons and seeing as I’m a pessimist by nature, let’s start off with the bad first shall we?
And that’s it.
No, I kid you not, everything and anything that I did not care for in the film itself is all based heavily on how the Shredder is portrayed and how he acts in this film. In the first film, we see him standing almost entirely in shadows but we can see two major points about him. First, he is a freaking giant of a man and seeing as he’s Japanese, whom on average five and a half feet tall, that’s pretty terrifying in itself and several times more in that armor of his.
Armor that he is sorely lacking in this film, which I can give a bit of leeway to as the Shredder is not that primary antagonist in this film but more on that in a bit. Instead of his war armor, the Shredder sticks to a pair of gauntlets with retractable blades and only dons his signature helmet for all of… three maybe five minutes tops.
His actor is not only quite different from the first film but he is portrayed in a far too different light. He’s lost several feet in height and appears to be a bit too… stupid. Not obviously so but enough to make me question if the fall didn’t jar something loose in his head. Then again… It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this wasn’t the real Shredder but just another of his body doubles. The Shredder is, if nothing else, infamous for being damn near impossible to kill.
As to why I note his sudden drop in intelligence… In the film, he escapes from a prison transport thanks in one part to the Foot clan but mostly due to Baxter Stockman utilizing an alien teleportation device that he’s managed to not only find but to control somewhat perfectly. Somewhat in the sense that upon its use, the Shredder was not brought immediately to the drop off point but to another place entirely…
Right at the feet of Commander Krang in the very heart of the brain-shaped alien’s warship, the Technodrome. The alien makes a deal with the Shredder for the man to find and unite the remaining two pieces of Krang’s specialized transdimensional device that will allow him to enter our dimension and take over the planet, promising the Shredder a means of ridding himself of the TMNT and power beyond his mere human imagination.
That the supposed ninja/criminal grandmaster does not see Krang’s promise for the obvious lie that it is, disappointed me but therein was the only bit of my disappointment ladies and gentlemen.
Krang is a near perfect rendition of his cartoon incarnation in looks and mannerisms that if it weren’t for his voice actor being quite different, I’d have thought the two to be nearly one and the same. Nearly but not entirely… Rather than being a nearly mobile brain, insomuch that he can move around via tentacles and the like, Krang appears to be completely attached to his cybernetic body, which in itself appears to be quasi-sentient as he constantly insults its lack of wit and force.
On the note of force, though it does not stick around for long what we do see of the Technodrome is freaking amazing. When it first begins to appear in the skies above New York City, it did so in pieces, with each segment coming through the portal and being put together via a specialized component “core.” At first, I thought this was rather stupid of Krang as those pieces could easily be destroyed upon entry until I thought/noticed some things.
The pieces themselves were flying specifically past buildings and assembling together quite low in the air, just narrowly touching the top of the highest skyscrapers. Krang had the Technodrome specifically assembling in such a way that it couldn’t be shot down without risk of huge collateral damage, something that our armed forces would not do as they had no way of knowing just how much a threat a completed Technodrome possesses until it was far too late. Heck, even sending the pieces through the portal makes sense as it has been “proven” in many other science fiction works that the larger an object is, the longer it takes to go through a portal, especially one through dimensions.
From there we get the long awaited live action renditions of Bebop and Rocksteady, and I can assure you right here and now that it’s them. A bit more crude but nonetheless, it’s them and let me tell you, it was weird watching them. The nostalgic feels I was getting from watching how the two of them interacted with each other, the Shredder, and the TMNT…
It blew the needle right off the spin dial. That being said though, just as I had for the original cartoon, I can’t help but wonder just what the Shredder saw in those two idiots that he bothered hiring them. True, there are stupid enough to heed his every command and not mutiny in some manner but… for crying out loud, the first thing that Bebop says when he’s see what he’s become is “I’m a little piggy.”
A delightfully surprising addition to the film, Casey Jones is… alright. He’s not bad per say but therein lies the problem. Casey is often described as being a violent psychopath, oftentimes to his face, and that’s what makes him a battle buddy with Raphael, something that doesn’t happen in this film. Though I will admit, I never would have thought of Casey Jones as a police officer until this film and even now, I can’t help but snicker at that very idea.
Lastly, the Turtles themselves are featured heavily in this film to which I say Hallelujah! While a great many previous films do their best to focus on the Turtles, it’s not through their eyes, so to speak, wherein the story takes place. Save for the fully CGI film, which still takes time to focus on the supposed antagonist’s narrative and exploits, this is the film wherein we well and truly see the Turtles as individuals rather than as a team.
We see the struggle that Leonardo has in being the leader and the mature one of the group, Donatello being the next Tony Stark in technological gear and an S-class loveable geek to boot, Michelangelo as the kid who wants to be accepted by the people of the world and is easily the most immature of the group, and Raphael being the muscle of the group and being a truly rebellious teenager.
Overall, I give TMNT: Out of the Shadows… four out of five stars. If you’re going to see this film expecting a true-blooded sequel to the first film, you’ll likely be as disappointed as I was by the rendition of an otherwise frighteningly powerful and hardcore Shredder being a near weaponless idiot. However, if you’ve held even the tiniest piece of affection towards the original animated series, I promise you that this film will tug at your nostalgia to such degrees that you’ll likely find yourself watching those same cartoons once more.