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Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows


"That stings! And not in a good way!"

There are few worse things for me than having to sit through a Michael Bay movie. I prefer the video of my sleep test to any of those infernal Transformers movies for which millions continue to line up. As it turns out, one of the aforementioned worse things than a Michael Bay directed movie, are Michael Bay produced movies in which inexperienced helmers do their damndest to copy Bay as best they can. 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a bad movie. It wasn't fun bad, but rather just sort of pandering nonsense which plays on the faintest notion of nostalgia lingering in late Gen-Xers and younger's memory banks. Ninja Turtles, sure I had those toys. Might as well take my kids to this, they'll like it.

And the problem is, they did and you didn't. You were turning into your parents, forced to sit through a bunch of noisy claptrap that somehow seems to enchant your child. It's a strange feeling, one that caused many an inexperienced to disappointment millenial to begin throwing around the terms "my childhood," or "unwanted sexual advances," and almost inevitably, "Michael Bay." See you guys were too young to see Phantom Menace for the hunk of shit it was, so that hopeless sense of optimism was drained from us decades ago, so now you knew first hand how fucking awful it is to feel betrayed by something you love. Get used to it.


When the movie gods, all of them named Michael Bay, found out that your kids liked the movie more than you did, they said, "Fuck it! We're just going after the kids with this one!" This is the same sort of thinking that got parents to decry the excessive violence in 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and deliver us the horrendously unwatchable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Have we learned nothing in twenty-plus years? Apparently not, because we now have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, an inferior product to its already bargain basement predecessor. Didn't see 2014's reboot? Don't worry, the first ten minutes of this movie is basically a "Previously on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" recap. 

It's a slap in the face to anyone who bothered to watch the first one, and it's not even done cleverly. There's a time and a place for recapping the first film, and it's called THE FIRST FILM. Get on with it! Had we lost those ten minutes, this thing would be down to a much leaner, if not meaner, 102 minutes, because god forbid anyone make a 90 minute movie anymore. But I digress... Once we're up to speed on the turtles' history and mission, we're essentially dragged through a needlessly complicated fifteen minutes of tech talk that no one could possibly hope to understand that's supposed to account for the plot of the film. The basics are that Shredder (Brian Tee) is working with a scientist named Baxter Stockman (the hilariously miscast Tyler Perry) to break him out of prison. When they create a rift in reality to break Shredder out of a police escort, it brings Shredder to Dimension X where he meets this brain looking thing called Krang (Brad Garrett) that wants to use Shredder's tech to open a portal into our world in which Kraang can amass his forces and take over Earth. Those are the basics. 


Let me stop for a moment and let you know that Brian Tee did not, in fact, play Shredder in the last film. No, in that film, the role was played by Tohoru Masamune. In this film, they have Tee done up to look exactly like Masamune, presumably in hopes that no one will notice that this is the only main character carrying over into this film that's being played by someone else. It's indicative of the entire film's contempt for the audience. It's been a year in movie time, why not just say, "My, prison has changed you Master Shredder," or something. Don't try and sneak a fast one by us. 

The turtles big struggle throughout this film is whether or not to come‚ as the title would indicate, out of the shadows and reveal themselves. There's also this mutagen that Krang gives to Shredder that could potentially turn the turtles into humans, but they soon discover that that particular side plot doesn't deserve any more exploration and it's chucked aside altogether. As for Krang, he was shoehorned in just like all the other fan favorites like Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), Rocksteady (Sheamus), and Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) to name a few. They're either there to cause chaos or to respond to the chaos another character caused. Bebop and Rocksteady in particular suffer from that same borderline racist and sexist affliction that has plagued other duos in the Bay-verse. Their first instinct upon being turned, respectively, into a giant Warthog and Rhino is to check out the size of their dicks. This is allegedly a kids movie, by the way.


Allow me to state for the record that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was never high art. It was never intended to be, but it was also not entirely low art. There was a message in there about teamwork, but it wasn't buried beneath sixteen layers of megaton destruction and ridiculous looking computer effects. Secret of the Ooze was garbage, but it was innocuous enough, and Vanilla Ice was such a joke by the time the movie came out that it was almost cute how seriously he took himself. This is officious garbage. This is the kind of thing that parents and kids need to stand up and say that they won't tolerate anymore. Entertainment that treats them like idiots. And I've got news for anyone watching this movie that doesn't feel they were pandered to: Congratulations! You're officially part of the problem. 

Movies need to make sense. At the end of the day, unless you're David Lynch, Werner Herzog, or someone of that ilk, your god damned movie needs to make god damned sense. This is a cynical film made by people who think that children are, for the most part, mouth breathing lunatics that need plot points spoon fed to them in between all the make boom! It's a sickness that's bred in a Hollywood laboratory and unleashed upon the masses every couple of weeks, and it's time to say enough is enough. Just look at the fact that this movie grossed a little more than half what its predecessor made in its opening weekend; It's proof that you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Hollywood's counting on those poor souls who they can indeed fool all of the time to keep turning up for this dreck, and so I'm calling you to the carpet. If you're operating under the delusion that this was "good" or "decent" or "not terrible," you're wrong. You must acknowledge this, it's the only way you can hope to get better.


Steve attanasie

Steve Attanasie

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