Written By: Mike Agostinelli
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It fills one with warm and fuzzy feelings, flashing us back to the glory days of our childhood and the wonders of youth. But how far can nostalgia carry you on its wings before you smash into the wall of reality and come crashing into the present?
Was that too intense? Too pretentious? Ok, I’ll go back to my normal douchery.
TMNT: Out Of The Shadows is a bit of a mess. It bathes you in the aforementioned holy waters of nostalgia for brief and fleeting moments, but in doing so, it also makes you realize that maybe some things you loved in your youth really aren’t that great to begin with. While 2014’s TMNT reboot wasn’t a perfect film, it was incredibly enjoyable. It had a style, a panache, and a slight tinge of grittiness to it that felt fun. It brought a fresh and modern feel to the world of the Ninja Turtles, basing itself more on the darker and more serious comic series than the past movies or television shows.
This sequel decides to throw all of that out the window and go for a straight up modern version of the 90’s animated show. At first glance, this notion might seem cool. But have you watched that show lately? Its awful, in case you haven’t. Corny, poorly animated, and a massive mess. It has almost zero redeeming qualities. And yet we are getting the 2016 version of it here. They even updated the Turtles’ looks here to more match that, appearing less bulky and intimidating and more like horrifying looking steroid-infested eight year olds. Leonardo also seems to have some sort of lip issue going on, as he curls them back behind his teeth while spitting out every line.
The writers also decide to throw almost every TMNT character in existence into the movie for no real reason, forcing most into the plot almost because they were mandated to do so by a higher-up at the studio. Except they couldn’t find a spot for Venus De Milo. Very sad. Seriously though; there are so many characters and plots in this movie that the first half hour is crammed to the brim. It feels like you were dropped into the film at the midway point and you’re being forced to play catch up, when in fact there is barely any plot carry over from the first installment. It resembles a hard reboot, but done in the laziest and most irresponsible way.
And don’t get me started on Casey Jones. Stephen Amell from the horrendous CW show Arrow plays him here. Look, I watched the first three seasons of Arrow. I dug it at first, until it became a piece of garbage soap opera for teens. Amell never really helped matters on the show, and he certainly doesn’t here. He’s a terrible actor. Handsome and strapping, sure. But that only gets you so far in this business. What be brings to Casey Jones is quite simply nothing of value. It doesn’t help that the character as written in the film barely resembles any iteration of him in the past, whether that be on film or television. He’s a corrections officer with a ludicrously nice car, who happens to find perfect parking spots on crowded Manhattan streets and just happens to dig hockey. So for the one scene where he wears the mask you get shades of what could have been a cool take on the character, but then its smothered into nonexistence by a hefty dose of crap later on. He also has zero chemistry with Megan Fox, possibly the biggest sin of all. Look at her. I love her. Megan, I love you.
Now don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a total crap fest. There are sequences and moments to enjoy. There’s an exciting action beat in Brazil that almost comes to the level of the first one’s mountaintop chase scene. Megan Fox also continues to give her all as April, relishing an admittedly slight role in this one compared to her larger one in the first. The Turtles manage to be the Turtles once again too; albeit a bit more corny and unfunny. Shredder is a step up from the first in a general sense, but his costume is a step down. And Krang looks and acts like Krang. Whether you find that to be a good or bad thing depends entirely on your tolerance for bullshit. Finally, the score by Steve Jablonsky is pretty damn good, although it gets mostly overwhelmed in the sound mix.
There is just simply no excuse for this to be such a step down. In an effort to please the whiners after the first, they made something which is overloaded to the max but yet curiously undeserved when it comes to story or any form of a compelling and coherent narrative. When you’re wishing and hoping for a movie to end while watching it, it’s never a good sign.
I give TMNT: Out Of The Shadows a 6 out of 10.
Next Review: Independence Day: Resurgence