Man, they did it. Despite all the odds, despite all the misconceptions about the current franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows defies all expectations and delivers on its promise of a fun and compelling film that from now on will be used as the standard to measure all summer blockbusters against. A true masterpiece.
I’m kidding of course, this film is terrible. I’ve always liked TMNT as a franchise. I grew up on the toys, cartoons, and 90’s movies, but I’ve never held them in particularly high regard. I wasn’t a fan of the 2014 reboot, but I had hope for this iteration. Unfortunately, those hopes were completely unfounded.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows picks up after the first film. New York is still unaware of the turtles presence, and they are frustrated that Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) has gotten the credit for saving the city. The turtles are conflicted, and want to reveal themselves to the outside world. It’s not long until Shredder (Brian Tee) breaks out of prison and employs the help of Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) to help take control of the city, while the turtles are aided by the returning April O’Neal (Megan Fox) and newcomer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell).
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t find many redeemable qualities in Out of the Shadows. What I was hoping for was a dumb but enjoyable and fun movie about giant talking turtles. Instead what I got was a boring, dreadful, mess of a film.
The script is all over the places, there is no real coherent main plot to the film. Events just randomly occur by coincidence or due to the plot demanding it, and there is no organic flow. Out of the Shadows contains some of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of telling instead of showing. Many times the film will come to screeching halt as a character stops to explain to the camera exactly what their hackneyed motivations are, to almost intelligence insulting levels.
I don’t buy the argument that this sort of thing should be excusable due to Out of the Shadows being considered a “kids” film, when a decent kids films is able to be enjoyed adults and kids alike. Plus, for a kids films there is sure a large amount of blatant, pandering sexualization of Fox’s O’Neal, and a plethora of dick jokes from Bebop and Rocksteady.
The humor in this film cannot be enjoyed due to how low brow and sophomoric it is. Outside of a line or two from the turtles ( the one about the turtles recording a hip hop Christmas album in particular), all of the humor fell completely flat. I didn’t think it was possible to make Will Arnett unfunny, but to its credit, Out of the Shadows found a way. So kudos to them for that, I’m actually impressed.
This applies to just about every other actor in this film as well. Everyone is utterly wasted, and turns in a terrible performance. Stephen Amell is an awful Casey Jones, and there was no charm or likability to him at all. He had this weird eagerness to his character that completely turned me off from him, while at the same time exhibiting these jarring mood shifts that totally distorted his character. He just kind of showed up and did things for no real reason, and there was never any real justification as to why is character was actually in the film other than “he was in the originals.”
Megan Fox remains as bad an actress as usual, and is once again used solely for the purpose of sex appeal. Luckily, her role in the film is greatly reduced compared to the first film, and more focus is given to the turtles. The more screen time dedicated to the turtles was welcome, and the relationships between the brothers was one of the few enjoyable portions of the film. If only that focus was well utilized, because this film feels just as under cooked as the last.
I couldn’t even enjoy the spectacle of the actions scenes, due to their not really being any. There are two chase scenes, and then the turtles flipping around Krang at the climax. That was it. It’s just so boring. The actual “ninja” aspect of the turtles goes pretty much ignored as we never get an actual fight scene with the turtles. Shredder is in the film, but does absolutely nothing and never once actually goes against the turtles. He is in it mainly for sequel bait, which this film is loaded to the brim with.
Krang is introduced, but his introduction is so extremely rushed that I could not become invested in his character at all. He has maybe two or three scenes in the entire film, yet acts as somewhat of the main villain, while at the same time being teased as the villain for the next film.
It’s all just so poorly handled. From what little plot there is, nothing is really resolved. The villain isn’t permanently defeated, many plot threads are left dangling, and there is no real sense of closure. This film felt like it was just sort of passing through a story road map, and we have yet to reach the destination. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Empire Strikes Back was the same way, but that actually had a smart script and was an enjoyable film. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is neither of those things.
At least hearing the classic theme song was cool.