Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out Of The Shadows (12A) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Dave Green, USA, 2016, 112 mins

Cast: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brain Tee, Tyler Perry, Brittany Ishibashi, Laura Linney

Way, way back in the 90s Turtles was my jam, it was THE T.V. show I watched. Whilst most kids liked Power Rangers I wanted nothing more than to be a Turtle. I had all the toys, I read the comics, I watched the TV show, it’s safe to say I was a solid fan. So you can imagine my hopes and dreams when it was announced that the Turtles were returning to the big screen and how quickly they were destroyed when I saw the first trailer and realized that Michael Bay had murdered another part of my childhood.

The problem was that Jonathan Liebesman (the director) was seeking Michael Bay’s approval. He had previously made the abysmal (and falsely advertised) Wrath Of The Titans and other horror trash, so this was his time to prove himself, to really turn things around and make a name for himself, the greatly Liebesman they would call him! Of course what Liebesman should have known is that Bay is a hack who only is interested in three things: the size of the explosion, the size of the boobs, the size of the box office. Possibly in that order. You could feel Bay’s fingertips in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you could almost see them on the edge of the screen. The most obvious is when they turned Shredder into a Transformer.

Dave Green one the other hand is a man who only has one movie under his belt previously. His work, Earth To Echo while not setting the box office on fire, really had a strong message locked inside itself about the environment. Here is a man with nothing to prove to anyone.

That idea really shows through in Out Of The Shadows. Dave Green has made a film less about cleavage and more about acceptance of ourselves and others, and not to trust a huge brain with a mouth and eyes.

The content naturally reflects the tone, this is a film less about humans and much more about the turtles. We see each of them have a tiny subplot inside the movie (much like the original 1990 movie. Which, for my money, still mostly stands up), Leo struggles with being a leader, Raph wrestles with his jealousy, Mikey tries to find acceptance and Donny, well… ok maybe they don’t ALL have a subplot, point is the film works because of its focus on the Turtles and it’s disregard for Megan Fox.

Green has made a more streamline film in Out Of the Shadows, he has dumped out most of the previous irrelevant characters (remember Whoopi Goldberg?), and replaced them with characters we want to see, starting with Casey Jones

As a child I remember Casey Jones being the lone wolf, wearing a trademark hockey mask, a vigilantly thug and nothing more, however in Out Of The Shadows he is given a back story with motives. While his plot isn’t groundbreaking there is something enjoyable about giving Casey a background story. He is now a police officer with an anger management problem, a nice touch that goes a long way.

The same can be said for Bebop and Rocksteady, in the TV show they were mindless idiots who are mutated by Shredder to combat the turtles, in this movie they are reimagined as… mindless idiots who are mutated by Shredder to combat the turtles. OK maybe Dave Green didn’t reinvent everything, but he doesn’t have to, if it’s not broke, why fix it?

Out Of The Shadows never feels like it betrays any of its characters, this is epitomized by Bebop and Rocksteady’s relationship, they never once for a moment stop being friends, where most movies would have two villains turn on each other, Bebop and Rocksteady never do, and here’s the thing they look awesome.

Out Of The Shadows tease for so much more than it delivers, Green has also placed enough Easter eggs and touchstones to more adult humor and further sequels that it doesn’t get too boring for the adults (I particularly enjoyed the Arrested Development chicken dance reference).

There are only 2 pitfalls for Out Of the Shadows, one is a terribly toned use of Megan Fox’s looks, making her into a school girl (but it is somewhat justified within the film) and the other is that Splinter is only in the film for a couple of scenes.

Apart from that Out Of The shadows is a fun family movie. Which will leave the whole family feeling like they’re on a rollercoaster nailed to the tracks, at times speeding past entire arenas and other times building and building to a high point, but I sort of like that. The action is engaging, the villains threatening and the heroes are green. What more could you want for?

Out Of Shadows is both the film we needed and we deserved. To me, this is the film we wanted the first outing.

Review by Robert Lucas