MOVIE REVIEW: Bright, colorful Turtles can’t save ‘Out of the Shadows’ from being predictably dull
We all know that guy who was in his prime about 10 years ago, was on top of the world and then was just sort of left behind by the normal passage of time, right?
Maybe he was the cool guy in high school who played in a band, was a star athlete, or maybe just drove around a really cool car. Everything he did was awesome or funny. This guy was on top. The world was his oyster.
Now, a decade later, this same guy is still living in his parents’ house, still cracking the same jokes he did back in high school. He even still drives that same car from 10 years back, trying to hide its age and rust spots with a flashy new coat of paint and fluorescent green rims.
The world has changed so much in these 10 years and no matter what neon color he paints that car, no matter how many Dane Cook stand-up specials this guy watches to steal jokes from, he can never just recapture that magic he had way back in the day.
Sounds awful, right? Well, I would have rather seen this guy’s life story for two hours than a second viewing of Michael Bay’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
This is a film that, at its core, feels deeply conflicted.
On one hand, the movie feels like a love letter to the original ‘90s cartoon series. It captures the feel of the show nearly perfectly, rolling from action set piece to action set piece without too much story to bog it down.
Despite the heavy CGI, the four turtles themselves don’t look bad. The organic branding of CG and people here works best when the characters are just standing around delivering exposition, but the fight scenes bring out the worst of the effects.
I think fans of the original show will be right at home here, delighted by the inclusion of characters like Bebop and Rocksteady, Casey Jones, and Krang. For those who love the source material, they may be able to power through the camp acting and cheesy dialog.
The film captures the personality of the four turtles just right, casting their dynamic as a group in a positive light. Leo, Mikey, Donny, and Raph are the heart and soul here, holding all these separate pieces together into something coherent.
Which is a shame for the real human actors in here. Stephen Amell, playing Casey Jones, is practically a cartoon character himself. Overacting is an understatement here, but his performance fits the cartoonish, over-the-top feel of the overall package.
On the other hand, this feels like a film made for the lowest common denominator. The simplicity of its plot feels more like a video game than a film, and the movie often treats its viewers like they’re stupid. The plot holds your hand the whole way, leading you along a series of fast motion, bright colors, and big explosions.
The humor feel juvenile and even stoop to random fart jokes, among the lowest of lowbrow humor, but even this feels confusing after characters curse several times throughout the film’s runtime. Who was this movie made for? If the filmmakers were looking to sell toys to the young kids who are sure to pack the theaters to see this, why would they put cussing in here?
Another egregious example of this is Megan Fox as April O’Neil. She is walking around scantily clad in both a nerd and schoolgirl outfit early in the film, later holding an extended conversation about the difference between a geek and a nerd to Tyler Perry, who’s playing an obvious parallel for Neil deGrasse Tyson.
I can’t picture any of that is for the 6 and 7-year-olds who are going to be buying the toys.
“Out of the Shadows” feels like it’s trying to appeal to everyone universally, but it manages to drop the ball on nearly every account.
Between the unfortunate “Transformers” references and another paint-by-numbers plot to string action sequences together, this feels distinctly like a Michael Bay product. I get that feeling that Dan Green “directed” this the same way that Toby Hooper “directed” “Poltergeist.”
This whole thing just feels sort of lifeless and bland. It’s like an off-grey shade of paint that just lulls you to sleep with its dullness when it should be a vibrant green.
I can see fans feeding off the nostalgia and enjoying the overall package here, but I’m not a huge fan of the source material to begin with. Between the blurry action, terrible plot, and obvious push to sell toys, there is nothing here for average moviegoers besides a mess of a movie.
Just like that guy from high school looking for his glory days, nothing is going to bring the turtles back to their prime.