How much is nostalgia worth if the nostalgia is mandatory to enjoy something in the present?
I certainly can’t say that I didn’t enjoy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : Out of the Shadows. I also can’t say that I liked it for any other reason than the flashbacks down memory lane. The memories of playing with action figures while watching the cartoon or going nuts on the arcade games with friends; were required to look past the gigantic holes in quality that is the second act of this movie and this reborn movie franchise.
The movie starts off with a bang and a wonderfully sized portion of nostalgia. The Turtles finally busted out their van, complete with shooting manhole covers. I felt like a kid again and sounded like one complete with chuckles and cheers. Each of the four Turtles get spotlighted in a way that emphasizes their unique personalities and before you know it they’re eating pizza. The movie certainly started off running on the authentic foot.
The rest of the movie is a mixed bag of fun authentic and asking aloud; what the hell were they thinking?
Shredder and Casey Jones each spend ¾ of their individual screen time without their masks on. For characters who are known as masked comic book/cartoon characters, that’s a bit too long for my taste. The green ooze that the franchise is famous for was turned purple for no apparent reason. TGRI is now TCRI. The turtles struggle with a desire to be human which smacks in the face of their traditional enthusiasm for being turtles. But easily the most annoying and screen time sucking portion of the movie goes to the obsession Michael Bay had not with Megan Fox (who is not a screen hog) but with involving the NYPD.
The NYPD gets plenty of movie love. There are a plethora of movies out there in which the NYPD has a necessary, central aspect of the plot(s). The police in every incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are background characters at best. I have no problem with wanting to involve the NYPD for maybe five to ten minutes of screen time like was the case in the original Turtles movie. But the NYPD literally gets almost as much screen time as the Turtles themselves and more than any other side character, side kick, or henchmen.
Henchmen wise however, this movie hit a home run. The overdue big screen debut of Bebop and Rocksteady was executed wonderfully. The actors playing the characters captured the knucklehead, light-hearted spirit of both characters very well. When they are turned into the mutant warthog and rhino respectively, the attitude and actions of the characters seemed right out of the cartoon.
Also making a long overdue debut were Krang and the Technodrome. Check both under the well executed, authentic category. Krang sounded very much like the cartoon counterpart and both the villain and its home base were brought from another dimension as they should be. Krang’s combat suit was modernized and the second incarnation within the film that he uses for the climax fight scene is as authentic as it could be while trying to modernize the look.
Tyler Perry’s enthusiasm for playing Baxter Stockman came through very enjoyably on the screen for my taste. If there is a third movie, I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the table. A combination of his mousers and mutation (which did not occur in this film) cold make for an excellent first act conflict to set up for a bigger battle in the third act of a potential third movie.
Speculation of a third film is only speculation due to the lackluster box office numbers Out of the Shadows has done. And lackluster box office returns is really what this movie deserves. After all, how much is nostalgia worth if nostalgia is mandatory to enjoy something in the present?
In the theater I was able to overlook and/or be blind to the gaping holes in quality this movie had during the entire second act, bleeding into act three. The climax and resolution were solid by summer blockbuster standards. The big fight scene between Krang and the Turtles had me thinking Cowabunga! I would certainly welcome and pay to see a third TMNT movie. But I wouldn’t recommend the first one and definitely not the second one to anyone who didn’t watch any of the cartoon incarnations of the turtles as a child. Childhood memories are needed. Without them all you have left is another Michael Bay action disaster that unless there is an explosion, or is Bad Boys, is just bad.