Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows 2016
Now that October and Halloween is over it’s time for me to catch up with the last few superhero and comic book movies of 2016, although I don’t think it’ll be possible for me to catch Max Steel now that it’s already pretty much out of theaters and won’t likely be available on home video until early next year. But that’s all besides the point of the film I’m actually discussing today. I did watch the first (technically fifth) one when it came out in theaters and while most people really disliked the film, I thought it was ok. It wasn’t the best thing ever, but I had fun with it. And when the trailers came out for the sequel, I had high hopes. There were plenty of references to the 80’s cartoon which I was familiar with and it brought in Arrow’s Stephen Amell as Casey Jones. But for whatever reason, I ended up skipping it in theaters, and have put it off once it hit home video until now. Without getting too deep into it just yet, I did enjoy it more than the first, but it still had some issues with some annoying tropes and character traits.
One of the best things about this film was the callbacks to the classic TMNT cartoon. Not only do we get: Bebop and Rocksteady, the Turtle Van, Casey Jones, Krang, we even get a taste of Vanilla Ice. They were all handled with the right amount of humor while still fitting into the world that they have created with this version of the turtles. Bebop and Rocksteady themselves walked the line between entertaining and annoying, it’s easy to see how some people could be turned off with their level of buffoonery, but it hit more than it missed. Krang felt very much in line with my vague memory of the cartoon series though within the context of these two movies he felt like he fell a little too far into the cartoonish side of things without stepping quite enough into realism.
One of the more disappointing things was Casey Jones himself. He did manage to have a few nice moments when he actually gets to be Casey Jones, even though he seems to drop the entire back of sports equipment in favor of entirely hockey paraphernalia. One of the worst moments was the trope-y moment after the Shredder was freed from his custody via a group of motorcycling ninjas who were attacked by the turtle van, he describes his “failure” do the officer in charge who pulls jurisdiction. As he’s describing it, he sounds like a five year old telling a story that he’s making up on the spot. Not only that, but he ends it by telling this high ranking officer who he has never met that he’s an officer and will become a detective one day, he just has to pass the test. It’s infuriatingly ridiculous that he would ever think that was an appropriate thing to tell this high ranking officer. Like she really cares whether or not he’s going to be a detective one day.
Another thing that was improved in this film was the design of the turtles. Even though it doesn’t seem like they were changed very much, they felt a lot better in this movie than they did in the first one. It’s entirely possible that some of that is that there was a whole movie before this to get used to the new designs. The same with their personalities, though there were several moments that tread a little too far into caricature territory. This film also didn’t get to have that great elevator moment that the first film had. Instead it did have the typical problem where they had to learn to work as a team and rely on each others’ individual strengths rather than to have them try to work as a single unit. Which honestly felt like the same lesson they had to learn in the first film. There was the added element where they felt like outsiders and it was very pronounced that they could only come out into the city at night where they wouldn’t be seen. They also had the ooze – which was alien this time – that would potentially allow them to become human, or at least look human, but as expected, they ultimately learn that it’s great being a turtle and reject the serum when it could have helped them the most. Not only that, but when they do work with the police and get offered to try and live a normal life, they prefer to stick to the sewers and the way of life that they are used to.
One element that was prominent in the trailers and was worrying that it could play a major part in this film was the oversexualization of April O’Neal, specifically the scene where she is changing her outfit into a sexy schoolgirl. Luckily, this scene was out of the way pretty early on in the movie and it made sense in the context of the scene. Not only that, but April in general was about as well as she could have been. She occasionally felt like she was spending a lot of time in the sidelines, but it was more about the turtles’ story. Will Arnett’s character also played a nice role even though he didn’t really come into the story for quite a while. The one role who did seem to get the short shrift was actually the Shredder himself. While in the first movie, he felt like he was shoehorned in so that he wasn’t whitewashed into Eric Sacks. Here, he generally just walked around and made some threats before getting frozen by Krang and never heard from again. Even though he had a little more agency, it felt like he had less to do in this movie in favor of the two bumbling mutants Bebop and Rocksteady. Even his ninja assistant gets foiled by two amateurs. But again, despite several cliched flaws that detracted from the movie, the overall feel of the film was a lot of fun. It brought back memories of the cartoon, and the arcade nerd in me was baffled by the fact that they had a Dinoscore game in the middle of their lair. But this was a fun movie with a nice mix of action and humor, I just wish the story was a little bit better. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.