The younger fans are the true energy behind this film’s “Turtle Power”.
I am big fan of the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film. I loved Leonardo up until my best friend, at the time, proved how much better Raphael was. I had the folders, the comics, the original graphic novels and made my own Party Wagon for my two turtle toys to ride in. As I look back at the series, I have to confess that the films weren’t actually great. But, they did not need to be. The original Ninja Turtles live action adaption is classic because of my childhood experiences rather than because of an amazing plot. It is iconic to fans because of how we all reacted to that original movie. All true blue fans know how to reenact the whole movie line for line and scene for scene.
After a long hiatus, the live-action medium of the “heroes in a half shell” returned with Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 2014. Much like the original film, the movie did not market itself as awe inspiring nor academy award worthy. Outside of the typical CGI updates and modernized elements, the Michael Bay produced film was made to be fun for a specific age range and, arguably, it achieved that. Now, Nickelodeon Movies is attempting to build on the success of the reboot with the Dave Green (Earth to Echo) directed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. But is this just a cash grab for the short attention spans of most of the younger generation or is it a serious effort at successful franchise glory? More importantly, is this movie worth your time and money?
This is a decision that is very hard to determine as a critical viewer. I have already established that this is not the type film that movie aficionados will likely find interest in. But as a fan of the Ninja Turtles themselves, Out of the Shadows does have its entertaining moments as well as some failed attempts. It is fun yet all over the place. It has a bit more story elements than the original 2014 film, but not enough to be more than a device to just have the Turtles go punchy-punchy. The comical elements of the film were excellent, but at times over the top or crude concerning the audience demographic. The movie is a family oriented endeavor, but seems to be better as a children only undertaking.
The newer cast was great in their roles although their parts in the overall film vary in screen time and importance. Brian Tee (The Wolverine) has the look of The Shredder perfectly, but he is hardly in the movie which feels like a true waste of potential (much like his role in Jurassic World). The introduction of Stephen Amell (Arrow) into the series as Casey Jones is inspired and definitely builds a foundation for his role in future movies. Baxter Stockman is spectacularly over the top thanks to Tyler Perry (The Madea franchise). The standouts for this movie are definitely Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly. Williams, who is truly a diverse talent in all acting mediums, brings to life the mutated warthog, Bebop, with Sheamus successfully adding to the pair as the Rhino thug, Rocksteady. Fans have long awaited the introduction of the pair of errand boys from the 1987 cartoon series and should be delightfully impressed with their addition to this franchise.
Maybe this is why I have a problem with this film. I absolutely loved the original black and white comics of which were gritty and violent. The original 1990 film was excellent as a movie itself. It still honed in on the darkness of the comics but mixed in the fun of the cartoon series that made the Ninja Turtles so popular. With 2014’s reboot, the film felt like a tribute to the original film, whereas Out of the Shadows seems to derive its inspiration totally on the cartoon series. All the gimmicky, cheesy lines have the same gooey tones and deliveries. The action is action for action’s sake without being too violent. Unfortunately, the Turtles don’t seem to use their token weapons in this one which brings to mind the 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze debacle.
All in all, Out of the Shadows delivers mindless comedy and action without putting anything more into it outside of enjoyment and entertainment for the kids in the seats. The parents may like it mainly because of their children’s reactions. If you are a fan of the 2014 reboot, you should like this one as well. But for those looking for a retelling of the characters from their childhood, you may be a little bit disappointed. Out of the Shadows throws a lot of things into the light on the big screen without much cohesion or time to truly develop all of its elements.
Ultimately, if you have children, this is a definite go see specifically for them. This is their time to build their own pop culture moments in the same way we did with our version of the Ninja Turtles. But if you are interested as a fan of the franchise or are looking for a movie to catch in the theaters, don’t waste the time or the money. It is good enough for a one time viewing in the comfort of your own home.
There should be a warning for children due to some of the action and comedy but kids will enjoy this one regardless. The younger fans are the true energy behind this film’s “Turtle Power”.