Sunday 5 June 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

"Why aren't we going with the turtles, when something bad happens you want to be with the turtles."

Michael Bay is back, quick grab all of your explosives and run, no beloved childhood property is safe. Now I know the credits of this film say “Directed by Dave Green” but I can’t help but think that it was Bay who played the biggest hand in exactly what direction this movie would go. I’ve been saying for weeks that ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is a ridiculous concept, by inherent design the idea is idiotic. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun though and the sooner Bay and his pals realised this, the sooner they could actually make something half decent.

Shredder (Brian Tee) resurfaces with mad scientists Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) to create their own mutants to take on the Turtles. Just when the four brothers think things can’t get any worse, an extra-terrestrial menace also joins the party. The addition of rogue Casey Jones (Stephen Amell).

To say that this latest instalment of the franchise is better than its predecessor is to say that being stabbed in the back is better than being stabbed in the heart, either way it is an unpleasant and painful experience. The reason this film feels like being stabbed in the back is how it momentarily appears that the creators have finally embraced the ridiculousness of this concept, gone all out and made a fun and entertaining movie. That has not happened.

What we get instead is a fiasco that beyond a few subtle references that will undoubtedly appeal to loyal fans of the property, is a shockingly soulless product. I feel as if even loyal fans have jumped off this boat before it sinks (I’m going crazy with metaphors today for some reason) due to the fact that the once likable and entertaining foursome have been turned into CGI, steroid fuelled monstrosities. The movie leaves the impression that it thought it could disguise itself behind a wall of fan service and references to hide its own incompetence.

The plot is one scene of exposition after another. In fact to call it a plot is to oversell it, this film is just one development after another, each one lacking in drama, depth and imagination. There is no innovation within this exposition either, it’s just a scene in which someone directly explains one development to the audience so the characters can move into some mindless and pointless action scene only to have another moment where the actors might as well be speaking directly to the camera. The film thinks its audience is incapable of even putting two and two together and actually come to a conclusion themselves. I think we can work out that a giant alien brain monster housed within a massively destructive robot is bad news, we don’t need it to be spelled out for us.

In fact let’s talk about Krang and the rest of the villains. If there’s one thing that I admired from this film it’s that they made Shredder a human again, he is no longer some faceless bad guy who spends a majority of the film encased in big metal suit. The only problem is that he is inevitably side-lined for the turtles to have their climactic battle with Krang. So this film, like the first one ends with the four CGI turtles fighting a giant robot on a platform high in the sky. That hints at a larger problem that is taking place here, there is no growth within this franchise nothing is changing and ultimately it is exactly the same as every other movie in this franchise.

To this films credit, while aesthetically the turtles horrific to look at, their characterisation is very reminiscent of the turtles many of us had grown up with. If more of the movie was devoted to them it might be a lot better. Sadly though, too much of the film’s screen time is occupied by April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her quest to convince the police commissioner that the turtles are the good guys, and I couldn’t care less. Fox’s contribution to this film can be deduced within a single image, in fact there it is.

We also have additions such as Casey Jones and whether it’s through inconsistencies in the writing of his character or within the acting of Amell but pinning down his character is the only intellectual mystery the film poses. Will Arnett is put to better use, but even he can't save this. Surprisingly Tyler Perry is half decent, but on a side note I need to share something I just found out. Apparently before he was signed on to star in ‘Gone Girl’ Perry had no idea who David Fincher was. He works as a director (albeit in the loosest sense of the word) and he didn’t know who David Fincher was. Even as just a fan of film in general that would have to mean he had never heard of ‘Seven’, ‘Fight Club’ or ‘The Social Network, and even though ‘Alien 3’ is a terrible film he must never have heard of that either, which means he hasn’t seen the other two which suggests he has no idea of Ridley Scott or James Cameron are either, it’s just baffling.

The usual Bayhem, need I say more?

Result: 3/10

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