Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the ShadowsAlthough I’ve always found the concept of mutated turtles turned superheroes to be pretty awesome, I have to admit that I haven’t seen a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie since the first one came out in theatres over 25-years ago – and I’ve (ashamedly) never read one of the Peter Laird/Kevin Eastman comics on which the movies are based. So now that we have my lack of TMNT nerd-cred established, let me say that I had a lot of fun watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

This latest installment of half-shelled heroics is basically a Saturday morning cartoon come to life – and I mean that in a good way. Sure, it attempts to convey some moralistic messages to the kids, about the value of teamwork and being who you were meant to be, but it’s mostly about mutant teenage turtles having a blast while doing their crime-fighting and world-saving thing – in an over-the-top, Michael Bay action manner; which seems to fit pretty well with these guys.

The Turtles’ old villain, Shredder (Brian Tee), is being transported to a high-security prison when he is rescued by his team of assassins, the Foot Clan, with an inter-dimensional assist by a slimy, tentacled-blob named Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett), who lives in the stomach section of a big, badass robot.

Despite the Turtles best efforts with their new Donatello-designed tactical assault vehicle, they are unable stop Shredder’s escape. Meanwhile, the turtle-team’s old friend, April O’Neil (Megan Fox), uses her formidable feminine charms to track down a vial of purple ooze that the bad-guys need to complete their evil plans.

Shredder uses the ooze to mutate two ne’er-do-wells, Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) and Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), into nasty animal-like monsters who join the samurai’s league of minions – and who bring disgusting fart and booger humor to the proceedings.

In another sub-plot, Casey Jones (played by TV’s Oliver Queen, Stephen Amell) teams-up with April and Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) as they go up against both Shredder’s crew and the cops, headed by Chief Vincent (Laura Linney.)

The film climaxes with an age-old scenario that has Krang versus the Turtles onboard an alien spacecraft that is primed to destroy New York City.  It’s all cool, but it seems like we’ve seen this in other films several times now.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

I found myself laughing out loud at several points in this movie, which, despite some flaws, is a great blend of exciting action and humor, with some tolerable doses of positive messaging.

As voiced by Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), and Alan Ritchson (Raphael), the turtles all have clear, distinct and fun personalities; and the computer animation effects that bring these heroes into the real world are incredible.

Let’s face it, Megan Fox is in this film to bring in the guys, and the use of her sexuality is blatantly gratuitous. Am I complaining? No. not really… But if I was a parent bringing my young daughter to this film I think I’d be a little more up in arms about it (especially for a film that is mostly going to appeal to kids.)

Also on the weak end of things is Tyler Perry’s appearance as the mad scientist, Baxter Stockman, which felt completely miscast. Perry does the best he can with the part, but the script by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec is very far from being Shakespeare.

There is an extensive action sequence that involves the turtles hijacking a plane, and then crashing it, that, alone, is worth the price of admission. But the main thing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has going for it (over, say, Superman v Batman) is that director Dave Green gets what a superhero movie is supposed to be about – heroics! Grade: 7/10

Photos © 2016 Paramount Pictures

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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