Sam shares his, urm, thoughts on the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie...

I think I was a bit too young for Transformers and GI Joe; I just missed that wave of 80s cartoons. What I did watch a hell of a lot of on Saturday mornings growing up was Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the latter leaving a bigger impact (My stance was/is Ghostbusters had the better movies but the Ninja Turtles had the better cartoon and video games). What I'm doing with this longwinded, stream of conscious intro is try to justify to myself why I saw this abomination on celluloid even though I knew, I KNEW, what I was in for before the theater lights even dimmed.

Let's get to good stuff out of the way first: This movie is the closest a live action adaptation gets to the cartoon. Shredder looks more like Shredder and less like a human Swiss Army Knife. Brian Tee imbues the iconic Turtle nemesis (A phrase never thought I'd necessarily write) with more personality and menace than he had in the 2014 film...mostly chewing scenery and scowling but still an improvement. Bebop and Rocksteady show up! I've been waiting for those two for a full-on cinematic appearance since 1991 (Getting Tokka and Rahzar instead) so seeing those two along with Krang and Baxter Stockman was very welcome as was the Technodrome and Turtle...well, I guess, not van but a converted garbage truck this time. And despite being 10 minutes longer than its predecessor, it feels shorter and moves quicker which is especially merciful when dealing with a movie of this, uh, caliber.

Look, I get that there isn't necessarily a lot of depth in Ninja Turtles on a conceptual level, I totally get it. Even though the franchise was created as a parody of gritty street-level comics of the 80s, it is still, at the end of the day, the story of four human-sized anthropomorphic turtles that live in the sewers of New York City emerging to fight crime in between pizza parties and sick skateboarding sessions; not exactly Tolstoy, is it? But this movie, man...[Mild spoilers from here on out]

The Turtles themselves aren't really at fault in their own movie though they still look more like a Salvador Dali acid trip than the shellheads of old. Their more annoying traits are toned down and Michelangelo is thankfully nowhere near the creeper he was towards Megan Fox this time around. And speaking of Megan Fox, in her opening scene, she disguises herself as a sexy schoolgirl when she's already in disguise as it is JUST BECAUSE. I get that subtlety was never part of the game plan but it sets the tone for the movie going forward and not in a good way at all. 

Stephen Amell doesn't necessarily do a bad job as hockey mask-wearing badass Casey Jones but his part is written less as Arrow's Oliver Queen and more as Steve from Blue's Clues with a bad attitude and seemingly infinite supply of hockey pucks. Tyler Perry's Baxter Stockman is understandably goofy (Again, kid's movie) and conveniently has a device that can generate mutagen from an extra-dimensional source in about ten seconds. Not a ten second montage; it's just primed and ready to go for something that he literally didn't know existed ten seconds prior in real-time.

The plot has Shredder broken out of prison and team-up with Krang to ostensibly take over the world by assembling three scatter MacGuffins to open some extra-dimensional, oh fuck it all, it's the Turtles trying to save the day from Shredder and Krang with Bebop and Rocksteady thrown in as recurring muscle; nothing more, nothing less. And Bebop and Rocksteady have this recurring "gag" where they'll random turn to each other literally at least 3 times a scene and go "MY MAN!" even if they've just had their everliving shit wrecked. That is the height of comedy in this. I've never wanted to see an endangered species, mutated or otherwise, obliterated until this movie so thank you for having me hit that personal low, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, for that.

Also, the 2014 movie goes out of its way to show that the Turtles are completely bulletproof so it's weird to see them surrender at gunpoint multiple times. MOVING ON!

I think one of the first big movie reviews I wrote on here was for the 2014 Ninja Turtles which I remarked was a movie not made based on desire or imagination but simply because they could. This continues that by being a sequel made because they could. You could cynically and not inaccurately describe that's how all big-budget movies are made these days but I like to think there's a little something extra under the hood, certainly to get me to care about them.

A bit less grating and more brisk than its predecessor, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows still fucking sucks. The action is a little more coherent, the characters generally less annoying, and there's more elements from the classic cartoon than ever but when you fail to stick the landing (Or the jump or the fancy shit you do in between the jump and the landing), what's the point? Yo, X-Men: Apocalypse! You're not the worst movie I've seen so far this year anymore!

Category:First Impressions -- posted at: 9:47am EST

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