Monday, January 29, 2018

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows; fantasy action, USA, 2016; D: Dave Green, S: Pete Ploszek (voice), Noel Fisher (voice), Jeremy Howard (voice), Alan Ritchson (voice), Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Brian Tee, Tony Shalhoub (voice), Laura Linney

New York. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo—are irritated that some guy took all the credit for the arrest of Shredder. However, they get a chance to rise to the occasion once again when Shredder is released from jail by the Foot Clan and joins scientist Baxter to open an interdimensional portal in order to bring Krang, a brain inside a robot, and his Technodrome, on Earth in order to rule the world. These villains are assisted by Beabop and Rocksteady, two criminals who were turned into a mutant rhino and warthog. Teaming up with April O'Neil, the Turtles manage to stop Krang and throw its Technodrome back into its dimension. They are thus awarded by a police officer.

This sequel to Liebesman's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film is a slight improvement, stacking up a few better jokes, yet they still needed to be doubled and the storyline better assembled in order for "Out of the Shadows" to pass that threshold of a good film. The authors, unfortunately, kept the ugly pseudo-"Shrek" designs of the Turtles, who look "too puffed" in this edition, yet the first 20 minutes are good and a couple of neat jokes are welcomed (in one of the best gags, just as the Technodrome starts to assemble itself from the interdimensional portal, one scared character spoofs the often cliche by asking April O'Neil: "Why aren't we going with the Turtles? When something bad happens, you want to be with the Turtles!"). April's first appearance is actually effective and shows that Megan Fox can have charm when given better written script sequences: she appears in disguise, with a blond wig and glasses, in order to approach scientist Baxter and download his secret information from his iPhone. However, the iPhone is handed over to his assistant who walks away before the download is 100% complete, so April decides to finish her job with a trick.

The first half of her trick is interesting (she ditches her wig, takes a skirt and ties up her T-shirt)—but the second half, the conclusion, is incompatible and irrelevant (she puts a cowboy hat on the assistant and pretends to be with some other girls in order to approach him, stall him for a few seconds and download until the end): if the only thing needed was for her to be a few yards away from him, why not simply walk at close distance behind him, without all this charade? One thing does not necessarily lead to the other. This seems to be the problem with the entire film: it is not fully thought out to the end. Other elements are also weirdly disjointed: Shredder, for instance, does not share a single scene with the Turtles (!) nor does he wear his helmet for 90% of his screen time—and when he finally puts it on, he is simply disposed off by getting frozen by Krang. This is terribly anticlimactic. Bebop and Rocksteady make their first film screen appearance, yet they play no real function in the storyline: except for a 20 second fight in the airplane, they do not even interact with the Turtles, and are beaten by—Casey Jones. The Turtles are again one-dimensional characters, only breaking this limitation on a couple of instances: one great moment of exception is when Casey spots Splinter and tells the Turtles: "Nobody move! There is a giant rat behind us!" More of these jokes would have been welcomed, since the story is all set-up, no pay-off. It is a solid film with a few moments, yet it seems as if the screenwriters just placed all these characters into routine directions because they had to, not because they had some real inspiration or reason in order to make them shine.


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