worthwhile things to say about movies (I’m confident that I do, otherwise, why would I be writing a blog?), but mainly because at times I have trouble separating myself out from the merits any given film presents. I have freely admitted before that internal biases have caused me to rate certain movies (like the messy Batman vs. Superman) higher than I normally would/should. Ah, such is the case with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Out of the Shadows (hereby referred to as TMNT 2).
I can’t say that this is a great film. I don’t even know if I can say that I recommend you see it (I’ll present a caveat to this at the end). However, I’m ashamed to admit at how many things I laughed out loud about, and how I was entertained for maybe 50% of it (hence the almost exactly average rating). Is this simply my nostalgia for the 90s taking over? Probably partially – it’s the reason that all these childhood toy movies are being made.
There’s really not much plot here – mainly just that there are bad guys, and this time around there happen to be mutants and ninjas for the turtles to fight, instead of just the Foot Clan. There are some pretty major plot holes in regards to time windows and other small things, but I don’t think the directors/producers really cared. They wanted to bring these characters back and make things bigger
The characters have the strength of one of the “Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man” (are those weak? That’s what I was going for anyway). Megan Fox is only in this to look good (I mean come on, was there ever a need for a school girl scene like that?). Will Arnett is there to make jokes and look full of himself. Even Casey Jones, who I thought had a lot of potential, was pretty wasted here. He has no depth, despite the dialogue’s repeated reminders that he wants to be a detective, dammit!
The best part of the movie is unfortunately not the Turtles themselves, but the bad guys. This may be because Rocksteady and Bebop are so ridiculous that you can’t help but love/hate them, but they are actually dedicated a fair amount of screen time – more than Shredder, more than Krang. Kinda sad when the villians with the least motivation are the most interesting.
The Turtles themselves are also a bit of a waste. They go through all their check boxes as well – Ralph has a get mad moment, Mikey has a pizza/jokester moment, Leo has a “they don’t listen” leadership moment, and Donnie is nerdy all throughout. I don’t necessarily object to this type of box-checking, but there has to be more behind it than things that are covered before, and better, in the original franchise. For instance, in the original TMNT movie, circa 1990 (a movie that I have talked about my love for as far as the darkness of it, the action, and the amazing practical effects to anyone that would listen – (are you sure we can’t watch this one Shannon?)), Ralph and Leo have the same power struggle fights that exist here. However, the payoff is so much greater, and you actually believe that people (when I say people, I mean turtles – that’s how much better that movie is) are learning and growing from the mistakes that are made. In TMNT2, I don’t really think any growing happens – by the next movie, they’ll be making the same mistakes.
Therefore, it’s with a heart that is in a mixed place that I give TMNT2 a “C” rating. However, as I alluded to before, if you were a fan of the original comics or even the animated television show, there is enough humor and action that you may give it a watch. It’s your call, fellow movie lovers.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
There were two artists that originally created our pizza loving friends. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were goofing around, and Eastman drew a picture of a turtle with nun-chucks and labeled it a “Ninja Turtle”. Laird drew a better turtle, so Eastman drew four more, now each with a separate weapon. Knowing they were onto something that was at least fun, Laird outlined this and labeled them “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (fun fact – this original drawing just sold for a bit over $71,000 at auction).
From there, they needed to flesh out the story a bit. They started by trying to name the Turtles by giving them Japanese names, but that didn’t work so well. The names were unruly and easy to forget – so they decided to give them the recognizable names of the Renaissance artists that we know and love – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Then came some more story, and from here they started to heavily borrow ideas from one of their favorite comic story lines: Daredevil: The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller.
How much of did they borrow? Quite a lot actually. For instance, Splinter, the turtles father figure and sensei is easily paralleled with the character Stick that is Daredevil’s teacher (Get it? Stick and Splinter, ha, ha, ha). Next, there is the Turtles main set of bad guys – the Foot Clan, which is a bunch of ninjas running around New York. Want to take a guess what the group of ninjas fighting Daredevil in New York are called? The Hand. Zing!
Finally, the biggest inspiration is the original Turtles origin story (not the crappy one that this one has – which I will write about shortly). Matt Murdock, in Daredevil #1, is given his powers when a radioactive substance falls off a truck and sprays him in the eyes, blinding him forever. In the original TMNT comics, the turtles are together in a small box and a box of radioactive substance falls off a truck and spills all over them. A few lessons in the ancient Japanese art of ninjutsu from a Japanese rat and - Bada bing bada boom – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Ok, so now that you, my Wonderful Reader, have a better understanding of the Turtles origins, can you see where I’m going to go with this?
I didn’t love this movie. I didn’t hate this movie. For me, to use Shannon’s words, it was just ok. I thought that lots of the ideas were pretty dull, and the overuse of CGI was just ridiculous. I miss the days of practical effects (I’ll talk more about this in the post on the sequel to this movie), and the CGI makes these turtles just seem out of control. For instance, why do the Turtles need to be outrageously huge? Why do they need to have these bulging biceps that conveniently have straps around them to
good things the Turtles have. They were teenagers so they would be relatable. They are mutants so they would be relatable. They were ninjas so they would be awesome, and they were turtles because isn’t it ridiculous to picture a slow moving reptile as a ninja?
So of those four qualities, I can only check off two (maybe even 1.25). They are kinda ninjas, but you very rarely see their skills in any meaningful ways besides a few shadow scenes. They are indeed turtles, but we seem to be stretching it at that point. You can call them teenagers all you want, but they sure don’t seem like it (side note here – apparently Michael Bay originally wanted it to just be Mutant Ninja Turtles, and due to the outrage added back the teenage – this could possibly explain
The idea of having her be the reason behind the turtles is just another idea (which I mention in the Now You See Me posts) about things getting tied up all nice and with a bow. Everybody in the story doesn’t have to be related. For all we know, we are going to find out that Shredder was actually April’s brother in a later movie (I want royalties when you take that Michael Bay).
Despite all its problems, it was still good to see the Turtles back on screen, enjoying their pizza and having a ball. I give TMNT A “C-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Another sequel that fails to meet the luster of the original in terms of acting, content, and overall story.
I thoroughly enjoyed Now You See Me. I thought the idea, though slightly derivative of other movies, was fun, and I thought that the cast really brought it together. There was enough humor (dry, my favorite) and some terrific magic scenes. Therefore, when I saw that there was a second one, I had some excitement that stirred within me. Unfortunately, when I started watching it, I was rather disappointed overall.
Where are we when Now You See Me 2 starts? A year after the events of the first, with the horseman in hiding. It’s kind of ridiculous from the start, to think that they have essentially been hiding in plain sight for a year, but I can forgive minor plot holes. Eventually, plot forces them into contact with a big shot scientist who wants an item, that they must now steal for him, otherwise he’ll do bad things. This scientist is played by Daniel Radcliffe, and most of his performance seems pretty forced. I think he’s a terrific actor in a lot of his roles since HP, but here he falters.
In fact, that is one of my two biggest critiques with this movie: the acting. No one seems to be having any fun. It almost looks like they were contractually forced to make this film. All the humor (and there is unfortunately way way too much) is forced. I mean really… Woody Harrelson’s twin? I get what they are going for, because twins pop up in magic movies more often than you would think. But… here, along with the rest of the humor being pushed in, is just *shrugs shoulders* meh. Lizzy Caplan's character (aka not Isla Fisher) is incredibly guilty of it. I don't think she did a bad job with what she was given, but the script for her is bad. Her best scene is when she is talking with Franco in the magic shop, because it allows a distinct, smart humor to breath.
That’s kind of how I thought the magic scenes went too. After being blown away with some really fun magic tricks in the first installment, here the magic scenes are completely secondary. They are quick and secondary, only serving as devices to move people from place to place. That’s terrible, because magic has so much potential to enliven, inspire, and best of all, to make people think (a lost art for some). Instead, you barely have time to figure out what the trick was before they start to explain how they did it. The best part of the first film was the breaths and the beats that were taken in between magical moments, and here, the magic is gone altogether.
The few tricks that are performed are ok. The card trick scene was pretty good, if a little too much was CGI’d. I really just wanted more.
Final note: this story is uber predictable. It’s worse than most kids movies. There is no foreshadowing as much as there is throwing the answer in your face repeatedly.
For me, I can only give this shell of a movie a “D+”.
For more on this movie, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"