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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review

Stay in Your Shell

I'll be up front with you before getting into this review: I'm not the demographic "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" is aimed at. The cartoons and toys were never part of my childhood, so I have no real attachment to the franchise, nor to this latest reboot in CGI-enhanced live action films.

Perhaps this lack of attachment has clouded my judgement. Ah, who am I kidding? These movies are just terrible. The first film wasn't what I'd call "good" but somehow I still felt unprepared for its aggressively obnoxious sequel.

One of the many problems with these movies is their aesthetics. Just like the first and more so in this sequel, the lighting is dim (much like most of the dialog). Director Dave Green is clearly going for a murky, cinema noir-esque, seedy underbelly visual of New York City. But his artistic ambitions don't quite match what has been realized on the big screen. It's one thing to be ominous; quite another to be just plain ugly.

Lighting issues aside, these movies just aren't that much fun. So desperate to appeal to nostalgia over originality, "Out of the Shadows" is a live-action cartoon without any of the appeal, charm or heft of an animated feature.     

The plot, such as it is, finds our amphibious foursome - Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael - returning to save the day after Shredder (Brian Tee) escapes from police custody. The teenage turtles team up with April (Megan Fox) and the officer who Shredder escaped from, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). The ultimate goal is to thwart Shredder and mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) in their fiendish plot to open a portal to another world that will allow super-villain Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett) to take over our world
It all sounds pretty harmless, I guess, and it will go down easy for the younger crowd, but my sympathies are with the parents who have to endure such dreck with their little ones. I'm not sure why young kids would even enjoy these movies because the titular turtles themselves are so garish and frightening looking. And if they don't appeal to young kids, and don't appeal to parents, just who is the target demographic anyway?

Without having said anything positive about this movie, maybe you're confused why I have given it a whole star in the rating (yes, we do sometimes go all the way down to zero). But "Out of the Shadows" has one thing its predecessor did not: Laura Linney. She has a small role as a police detective and it makes me a bit sad that one of our greatest actors took a paycheck role like this. Even so, she brings an unexpected authority and gravitas to her scenes; a bright spot in an otherwise dim and forgettable misadventure.

At one point during my showing, a young kid toward the back of the theter started crying. "Mommy! Mommy!" he wailed. I'm not sure of the real reason for his tears. Maybe he spilled his popcorn or drank his Icee too fast. But I think I know better: it's because he just couldn't bare this movie anymore. And I don't blame him. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" will have you crying for your Mommy, too.

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