Sunday, June 5, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Cowabunga, dudes!  Who wants pizza?


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows – 4 out of 5

I discovered the Turtles around the same time most people discovered them and that was when the original animated series debuted.  Since then, they’ve definitely been a big part of my life and I have enjoyed their comics, cartoons, toys and movies since.  When the latest live-action film was announced, the internet reacted in the usual predictable way—that is, people whined and whined about how it was going to "rape their childhood" and how they want Michael Bay dead for producing it.  This is a totally justifiable reaction and is in no way totally insane—especially when you consider these comments were made long before even the first trailer came out.  Where would the internet be if there was no vast sea of butthurt fanboys complaining about the properties they claim they love?  Well, anyway, the first film came out and did financially well despite its mixed bag of reviews.  Well, the filmmakers were granted another go-around and a sequel was made.  The studio stated their goal was to make something that was closer to the source material and more geared to the fans.  Did they succeed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows or is it just impossible to please the “fans” and they will just fill up the message boards and comments sections with complaints?  Well, I can’t speak for the masses but I can say I definitely had fun with this one!

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If this van is a rockin'...then the Turtles are probably kicking the butt of
the Foot Clan.

It’s been a year since the Turtles defeated the Shredder and things are more or less calm in New York.  Leonardo (Pete Ploszek) is doing his best to try to turn him and his brothers into an elite squad of ninjas but finds it can be a little difficult as Donatello (Jeremy Howard) is busy doing his brainy things, Raphael (Alan Ritchson) is being a hothead and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) is being a pizza eating goofball.  However, when the day comes to transfer the Shredder (Brian Tee) to a new facility, the ambitious scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) teams with The Foot Clan and utilizes some alien technology to teleport the villain to safety.  With the help of his two new mutated henchmen—the rhino Rocksteady (Sheamus) and the warthog Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), the Shredder begins plans to assemble an alien device that will allow an evil creature called Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett) to invade our universe and take it over.  Now the Turtles must team with one of the cops who failed to stop the Shredder’s escape; Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), the tenacious reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and their old friend Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) and, together, save the city!

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You should see what Clark Kent has to go through to get a story.

I went and saw the first one in the theater and had some fun with it.  That isn’t to say it didn’t have its fair share of problems but I didn’t feel it deserved the level of hate I saw some people throwing at it—it’s pretty strange how often people say they want creators they don’t like to die.  I mean, I can understand not enjoying Michael Bay’s work but requesting he be killed for producing this film because it wasn’t what you wanted seems a tad strange to me.  Anyway, when I saw the trailer to this one, I have to say I was very excited.  Not only did it look like it improved on a lot of the problems of the first film but it also included the first ever live-action appearance of Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang.

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Little Kid Ron was so excited to see this and Adult Ron was also excited
and high-fiving Little Kid Ron.

For the most part, Out of the Shadows does do what the filmmakers set out to accomplish and that is make something that takes the best elements of the last film and, at the same time, make something a little more coherent to the source material (or, one of the many forms of the source material—the Turtles have had many different forms over the years).  In this case, the film often succeeds as they continue to capture the spirit of each of the brothers’ personality and they really nailed bringing Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang to life.  The film also delivers a story that feels like it was lifted from the old animated series and adapted for the screen.

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I gotta say, I loved Brad Garrett as Krang but I am curious how Fred Armisen
would have done the role if he hadn't dropped out.

Additionally, the film brings in some very exciting and fun action sequences—with many of them being on a very large scale.  For example, the film has a sequence that involves the Turtles fighting Bebop and Rocksteady on a cargo plane and the entire sequence is fast-pace, funny and super exciting.  Director Dave Green (who is pretty new to the world of feature length films) showcased action scenes that were dynamic and perfectly captured the spirit of the Turtles—it was damn impressive.  Finally, the film brings all of this to life with some really excellent special effects.  The motion capture on the Turtles and the animation of Krang was over-the-top enough to have the feel of the cartoonish nature of the characters but realistic enough that they could be dramatic characters that you can sympathize with.  Heck, it was easy to lose myself with the Turtles because the special effects team and the actors did such a great job of bringing them to life.  The level of emotion and life that was behind their CGI eyes was, at times, frighteningly realistic.

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Mikey, the party dude!

Still, as fun as the film was, it still wasn’t without its problems.  As I stated in my review of the first film, I was disappointed with the Shredder because I felt the story went too big with him too early.  Almost immediately, Shredder is this mech suit-wearing character that comes and wipes out the Turtles when, maybe, that should have been saved for the final battle.  This time around it feels like they are going with a slow approach to the character and it seems you’ll see him take on the brothers in a more traditional way.  Sadly, however, the Shredder never feels fully utilized or as much of a threat as he is talked up to be.  He is constantly being spoken of as this horrible force but never is this threat ever fully achieved and it was a bit of a letdown.

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There was so much untapped potential over this sequel's Shredder.
Another letdown was this new version of Casey Jones.  While I was excited to see Stephen Amell be cast as the character, I wasn’t too thrilled with this new origin they game him and less than impressed with Amell’s performance.  I’m a fan of Arrow and know that Amell can act but we don’t really get to see Amell really show what he is capable of due to the fact that he—as well as April O’Neil and many other of the human characters—take a backseat for much of the story.  Casey Jones has some moments but he’s a great character who is deserving of more and just, sadly, never got a chance to really show it.

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I'm sure that hockey mask is regulation.

Finally, just like the first film, I wasn’t a fan of the comedic relief of Will Arnett.  I love Arnett as an actor but none of his scenes in this film were that entertaining and too often the jokes in them felt forced.  This movie gets pretty amusing at times because the brothers are funny and Bebop and Rocksteady are hilarious but Arnett’s humorous moments fell very flat and ended up feeling more like filler than anything else.

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With the issues Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows has, I still ended up having a lot of fun with it.  Granted, I still found the Turtles to be way too busy with their design and it kinda stinks that Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub) barely had a presence in the story but the story works, the action is exciting, it has a lot of great music littered through out it, and it was just flat-out fun.  This sequel also does a great job of establishing the possibilities for more films—whether they come in the form of Baxter Stockman (who was, in my opinion, played fantastically by Tyler Perry) becoming the antagonist and maybe even getting a film that involves the Mousers or whether it be something along the lines of revenge from Krang and Shredder.  Is this film going to please all the fanboys?  No, because that is impossible—while I would agree it would be cool to see a darker, grittier Turtles based on the original comics, guys, I don’t think it will ever happen.  Will this film please the fans of the original cartoon?  I would think it could potentially do that.  Regardless if it does or doesn’t, I found myself having a lot of fun at the theaters and walking out with a smile on my face and really hoping we get a third one.  Turtle Power!

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Well, I'm hungry for a pizza now.  I'll just pretend the Turtles caused this and
that I'm not just always hungry for pizza.

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