TMNT: Out of the Shadows is Bigger, Better, and with More Pizza
It was 2013 and Michael Bay announced he was working on a reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was rumored that they were going to be aliens from outer space. It was soon after when the entire fandom went ape shit on Michael Bay and forced him to back down from his terrible idea. Bay jumped on the band wagon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released in 2014 to a measly $60 million opening weekend. The film was alright. It was fun and enjoyable but really nothing too far beyond that realm. There’s a reason I preface this review of it’s sequel with this information. From here on out, I want you to forget everything you know about that first movie. I want you to pretend that it never happened because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the film that should have been the reboot of the series. To me, Out of the Shadows is the first film for a very good reason.
There’s a very subtle genius behind Out of the Shadows. That genius is how well the movie brushes passed the events and missteps of the first film to bring us into the world with a clean slate. It’s easy to see that director Dave Green understood all that was wrong with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and took the rule book, tore it up, and rewrote it from scratch. This was a breath of fresh air breathed deep into the lore of the turtles. The first film failed by taking itself too seriously whereas the second film does not. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, director Jonathan Liebesman wanted to keep it fun but also grounded in reality. Dave Green said screw that and boy, he could not have been more right about this approach. You cannot ground a movie about giant talking turtles who fight crime with Ninjutsu in reality. You simply can’t and I’m glad someone finally realized that.
This was a breath of fresh air breathed deep into the lore of the turtles.
We don’t need the Christopher Nolan, David Goyer approach to comic book film making with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, we need f**king talking turtles, who joke, skateboard, eat pizza, and fight crime. It’s safe to say that along with Green, his cast understood this and set out to make a wacky action film with very stunning CGI work. Our core cast of turtles is back, with Pete Ploszek taking over the voice of Leonardo from Johnny Knoxville (Ploszek did only the motion capture for Leonardo in the first film but does both in Out of the Shadows). Pushed aside are the too serious arguments amongst the Turtles. In its wake are hilarious moments of somewhat Three Stooges caliber comedy, hits on the head, name calling, chasing, etc. The Turtles are a far stronger group in this film and it pays off.
Behind the two of them return our April O’Neil, Megan Fox, who leaves much to be desired beyond sex appeal. Fox does an okay job at playing April but she’s no Judith Hoag or Paige Turco. She doesn’t bring much to the screen in terms of sheer assertiveness, though this should also be faulted to the writers. Our new Casey Jones rocks the hockey stick as Stephen Amell dons the mask. It’s very easy to tell that Amell had an absolute blast making this film and you know what? Good for him. If you can’t enjoy being in a film like this there’s something terribly wrong with you. His Jones is pretty straight forward, there’s not too much for him to work with but he does a great job differentiating his Casey from Oliver Queen on Arrow.
The two’s semi-erotic friendship and moments of hilarity are pure ecstasy...
However, it’s none of the above-mentioned cast members that make the film. The two characters that absolutely stole the show were our Bebop and Rocksteady. Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly (Shamus of WWE fame) give us two characters we’ve been aching to see on the big screen for decades and they give them to us with absolute gusto. The two’s semi-erotic friendship and moments of hilarity are pure ecstasy in the form of a giant wart hog and rhinoceros. Much like Amell’s Casey Jones, it’s easy to tell that these two actors had a blast transforming themselves into two of the most beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters. Beyond them is also the ever momentous character of Krang, voiced by Brad Garrett. Garrett does a superb job putting his own spin on the character that’s been made famous by one of the most prolific voice actors to date: Pat Fraley.
I was looking for pizza and nun-chucks and that’s exactly what Out of the Shadows gave me.
Let’s be honest here, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a film about giant talking turtles who fight crime and love pizza. What exactly do you expect from this movie? Because I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I got fun, humor, far better action than I expected, moments of shock and awe, and so much more. I wasn’t looking to be moved from a mind blowing script, or to shed a tear from a dramatic portrayal by an actor. I was looking for pizza and nun-chucks and that’s exactly what Out of the Shadows gave me. Forget the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s not terrible but now that Out of the Shadows has been released, it’s really just not needed. Out of the Shadows is the true to form reboot. Let’s just see where they take the Turtles from here.