Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (film)

It seems like I'm starting out a lot of articles with the phrase "I'm a big fan" lately. Probably because there are a lot of things I grew up with that are being sequelized or remade lately. One of those is one of my all-time favorite animated series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm more of a fan of the 2003 Fox/4Kids series than I am of the 1980s cartoon, but I've watched a good deal of it. I've seen all three of the previous live-action films multiple times, and I loved every second of them. I've read the original comics, I've read the Archie comics, I've seen the 2007 movie that may or may not fit into any of the previously established canon. The only Turtles material I haven't seen is the Super Sentai parody OVA and the recent Nickelodeon series. The former only because I haven't been able to find it, and the latter because I saw how Nickelodeon's revival of one of my other favorite Saturday Morning shows turned out, and I've got enough rage in my life riffing on new episodes of Power Rangers, I don't need to add another once beloved title to my list of hatred.
I know the history of everything Turtles-related, mostly because I would spend long times after school at the local library on the public computers either watching old episodes on (Now defunct sadly), or listening to the Turtles Podcast while researching the franchise on Wikipedia and various fan-sites. If it exists, if it's an official part of the Turtles franchise, then I know about it. Maybe not off the top of my head, but I definitely know about it or have known about it at some point. I'm a die-hard fan born and bred with a love of the brothers from the sewers from childhood, and you can bet that I've forgotten more about this franchise than most fans have ever known. That basically sums up everything I'm a fan of, honestly, so I'm going to try and stop making this speech every time something I'm a fan of comes up for review. It's part of how I work, when I'm interested in something, I go through all the behind-the-scenes content I can find until I know as much as anyone who didn't directly work on the project possibly can.
Now that all of that is wrapped up, let's get into the details of the film, shall we?
You'll notice that I put "film" in the title-bar to differentiate from the game of the same name released for Xbox Live and Steam back in 2013 and for PSN in 2014. Like the previous Michael Bay-produced Turtles film, it features a cast who had never been in anything else Turtles-related, some of whom I like and have heard of, others of which I haven't even heard of in passing, and some don't even have Wikipedia pages.
The main complaint I had about the last Turtles film was the lack of accuracy to an previous installment in the franchise. Shredder was split into two characters, one of which was an over-designed mess. The Turtles origin was changed rather absurdly and unnecessarily. However, it was still pretty fun to watch if you could get past those issues.
This film? Well, we've got the Turtle Wagon, Krang, Mikey's rocket-board, The Technodrome, Bebop and Rocksteady, Casey Jones, an actual Shredder suit based on his previous appearances, and plenty of pizza.
As one might be able to tell, this film takes more inspiration from the '80s series than the '03 one, and rather unfortunately, it takes on a lot of the flaws of that series as well. For instance, Shredder doesn't have a whole lot to do in this movie after he gets the ball-rolling on the plot. Splinter also doesn't do much in this film. Tony Shalhoub has one scene as Splinter, and then he's gone. He's the Turtle's father for crying out loud, why didn't he get a few more minutes of screen-time?
Basically par for the course as adapting the old Turtles series goes, except Splinter usually had at least as much screen-time as Shredder did in each episode.
After the events of the last film, the Splinterson brothers do what they normally do. They eat pizza, they do normal things in weird ways so they can get away with them, and Mikey acts like a little kid. The brothers are their lovable selves, and the start of this film contains some much-needed character development.
Meanwhile, April O'Neil (Played by Megan Fox, incredibly well especially compared to her performance in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I might add) finds out that Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) is working to break Shredder out of prison. April tells the brothers about this, and they bust out the Turtle Wagon to intercept The Foot Clan's assault, but despite the best efforts of them and the officers assigned to the security detail, Saki and a pair of doofy criminals, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams and Rocksteady (Sheamus O'Shaunessy), manage to escape. Shredder by a teleport device, Bebop and Rocksteady by conventional means.
Stockman screws up however, and Saki winds up in another dimension, face-to-face with Krang (Brad Garret) who sells him on an idea of world domination, giving him a powerful mutagen to create super-soldiers with in exchange for bringing together a machine that can bring his command-center and war-base through to Earth, a rolling sphere of death called The Technodrome.
Shredder returns to New York and decides to test the serum out on Bebop and Rocksteady to see what happens, while one of the officers assigned to the transport van, a former street-kid turned cop, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) begins to hunt them down. Casey apparently went to the "Dirty Harry" school of law-enforcement by way of... Well, by way of Casey Jones as a matter of fact.
April sneaks into Stockman's company, TCRI and captures the enhanced mutagen, but is attacked by The Foot Clan as she escapes the building. Casey Jones, on the first outing of his crusade, takes on The Foot and wins before they regroup on him. The Turtles show up a tiny bit late, but soon enough to save their butts.
Naturally, Casey is taken aback by the gigantic mutant turtle creatures, but things get straightened out, and they wind up teaming up in the end, but thanks to The Foot, the mutagen winds up in the hands of the police.
Back in the base, Donny figures out from a sample of the serum that they can turn mutants human. The point of this is somewhat lost, since they went with the original version of Splinter instead of the eighties version, where he's a humanoid rat and not a human that got turned into a rat.
Leo tells him to sit on this info, but Mikey overhears it and tells Raph. Yeah, it doesn't really work to keep secrets when you live with five people in an enclosed space like that.
Raph confronts Leo, who benches him over his attitude and Mikey basically because Mikey is immature and undisciplined. Leo takes Donny on a mission to retrieve one of the things that will open the portal for The Technodrome, but The Foot gets to it ahead of them.
Meanwhile, Raph, Mikey, Vern (Will Arnett) April and Casey break into the NYPD headquarters to retrieve the purple ooze, but because The Foot shows up, the police find out about The Turtles and April and Casey are captured by the police, and charged with stealing the serum from TCRI.
Thanks to Vern though, the police find out how TCRI doctored footage to make it look like April stole the serum rather than them illegally experimenting on humans.
The Turtles manage to track Bebop and Rocksteady to Brazil, and what ensues is one of the most awesome action scenes in Turtles history. It's freaking cool, and it's one of the best things about an already freaking cool movie.
Despite their best damn efforts, the brothers fail to wrest the last of the keys to the portal away from Bebop and Rocksteady.
Back in New York, The Technodrome comes through the portal, Shredder is betrayed by Krang and stored away in a freeze-dried prison with the rest of the overgrown utrom's rogues gallery.
Vern, Casey, and April set up a meeting between the NYPD and the Turtles. The NYPD agrees to aid the brothers, and they take down Krang, while Casey takes down Bebop and Rocksteady.
The Turtles are crowned heroes in secret, Bebop and Rocksteady are captured, and everything turns out alright in the end.
All in all, this is a god-damn Turtles movie. The first one was kinda iffy, but there's no denying that we got ourselves a freaking Turtles movie this time around. Sequels are rarely better than the originals, and remakes rarer so. This is a remake, and a sequel to that remake, and it's better in every way. Hell, I didn't even mind the previous movie, but this was freaking awesome. Megan Fox shows off talents you probably didn't know she had. Stephen Amell freaking kills it as Casey Jones, showing that he can do more than just impersonate Christian Bale and beat up Cody Rhodes.
Speaking of wrestling, actor and voice-actor Gary Anthony Williams and professional wrestler Sheamus O'Shaunessy are perfect as Bebop and Rocksteady respectively. At least we now know that there was a good reason for Sheamus's stupid haircut when he came back to WWE last year, if not a good reason for his ill-advised heel-turn.
Then there's Tyler Perry, who puts on his best performance in years. Yes, they probably could have gone back for a couple more takes on some of his lines as Stockman, but he hams it up exactly the way I would expect Baxter Stockman to do. Overdramatic comparisons, self-aggrandizing dialogue said like it's a given, he's practically M. Bison in this regard, but that doesn't stop the character from being a coward who grovels at Shredder's feet at the first sign of a threat. This is a god-damn Turtles movie.
All in all, while there are a small handful of issues, the aforementioned sub-par takes of a few of Tyler Perry's lines, some of the odd and downright uninspired choices of licensed music, and the over-produced boy-band version of the classic Turtles theme-song (It's literally performed by a boy-band called CD9. Complete with auto-tune and a bad impression of N*Sync on the chorus) but hell, this is a god-damn Turtles movie. And I love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles like practically nothing else.
In the end, I give Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a 10.0*.

Before I go for the week, there are a few things I would like to update you guys on. First off, I'm sorry this review took until Wednesday to publish, a combination of my schedule, a few unforeseen events, the new web-show I'm involved with through Kisareth Studios, and me outright forgetting to finish this review on Sunday because I was so damn busy led to me pushing off publication until today. I'm deeply sorry for this little schedule-slip, and I will do my damnedest to make sure I never do this again. Ever. I'm going to try to have reviews scheduled at least two weeks in advance from here on out so that they never miss their Sunday publication date, and thus will be providing you guys with new content on a weekly basis pretty much regardless of what's going on with me behind the scenes.
In other news, I've finally created a Patreon for the site. It's something I've wanted to do for the last several years, but for one reason or another I was unable to. For those of you interested in contributing to it, here's the link.
That wraps it up for the updates this week, I'll see you next week! I haven't pegged it down yet, but I'm thinking of reviewing something Marvel-related.

Image from