Josh’s Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
By Josh Morris
I wasn’t wrong when I predicted “Out of the Shadows” wouldn’t defy convention. How prophetic.
After defeating Shredder in their first outing, The Turtles are forced to out-wit an “even greater” enemy in the form of Krang and out-muscle his criminal-turned-monsters Bebop and Rocksteady. But can they do it while maintaining their secret, vigilante identities? Spoiler: yes.
Considering the original plan for this franchise was to have the reptilian brothers be alien ninjas not mutants, I will continue to admit that I’m impressed with the finished character designs; they were clearly drawn up out of respectful nostalgia for the characters. It’s just their execution that falls short. I can say the same for the script.
It’s strange that one of the plot points is having The Turtles choose to remain in their shells or transform into humans. Upon realizing that if this particular foursome were to wear our skin they wouldn’t be able to retain their super-skills (like jumping out of airplanes without a parachute), they choose to stick with their original form …. Yawn. You know, Shrek faces the same conundrum in “Shrek 2” (2004), but at least in that film we actually get to see the transformation; we actually get to experience the protagonist in human for. I wonder why the screenwriters even bothered here.
Now, if they had turned sexy April O’Neal (Megan Fox) into a slimy, princess slug I would have given the movie five stars for originality. On that note, it’s been almost decade since Fox first wowed the drooling not-quite-adults in “Transformers” (2007). She’s going to have to learn to act soon.
However, some of the new additions to the cast help make the film tolerable; among them is Brad Garret whose voice work for Krang seems lively but laborious and Tony Shalhoub as Splinter, an unexpected choice that turned out fine but is easy to forget. Additionally, Laura Linney is always a delight on screen and Stephen “the ten-pack” Amell is just enough of a dick to portray Casey Jones adequately.
I still can’t figure out how it’s necessary or even a bright idea to take another stab at a live-action Ninja Turtles film. There are already too many of those from the 90s and-as much fun as they may be-they aren’t good. These past two installments aren’t either. When TMNT (2007) came out I was excited to see my childhood cartoon heroes updated on screen, and I reckon I would be just as exhilarated if more cartoon films were released, especially if they contained scenes like the rooftop fight scene between Raphael and Leonardo. Nothing in “Shadows” matches that.
All I’m saying is we’re living during the magical time when an animated LEGO Batman movie will soon be released. Let’s just be done with the “live-action works for everything” state of mind.
Big Hero 6 (2014) was successful enough as an animated feature to know, without doubt, that we can receive a legitimate, superhero story with a big budget, high quality and compelling human emotion; and all that in a cartoon! But if creative reasons aren’t enough, let me present a financial one: Big Hero 6 cost 165 million to make and earned 223 million in the domestic box office alone. “Shadows” cost 135 million and has only earned about 50 million in 8 days (about half of its predecessor’s gross). I’ll just leave it at that.
I’m sure there’ll be another half-assed entry to establish a trilogy before the inevitable; reboot; I think I’ll skip that one like everyone else.