Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
Only one team can defend us all.
The turtle ninjas have had a long track record of having movies that weren't "great" but still enjoyable for the most part. Even the last entry (before this one) was enjoyable, had aspects o fit that I really enjoyed. This time around, the makers have listened to the crowds and given them what they wanted - more mutants, more aliens, more Casey Jones. Will it be all we wanted and more, or will we find that sometimes (as science once said), we are too caught up in the 'can we' that we don't even think of the 'should we.'
New York's lean green ninja-machine family is back at it, partying through the rooftops and sewers of the night, cracking jokes as they hurry along to catch a basketball game. After snagging their pizza from an unobservant delivery guy, they reach the game and find their perch up in the large center-court monitors, offering up a nice birds eye of the game that allows them to stay hidden. There's some lamenting about how they should be down there with the people watching the game and having a good time, but the fact they are different is keeping them from it - just in time for the monitors to chime in and let us know that Vern has managed to get all the credit for taking down the Shredder in the last movie. They pester him from afar with some spitballs while he's getting interviewed, and enjoy the game until Mickey let's slip a delicious piece of pizza and it finds its way to the court below, and promptly gives a player quite the slippery play.
April has been setting about her own investigation, procuring files through some "subterfuge" from a scientist name Baxter. As the files she's gotten start to delete themselves however, she only has the time to confirm her belief he is helping the Foot clan, and in fact they have some sort of plan to bust Shredder out of custody as he's getting transported to a new location that very night. The teenagers mount up in their new garbage-truck battle-wagon and take to the streets to make sure this doesn't happen though - and one officer named Casey Jones is about to have a very rough night. During transit, the Foot clan attack the convoy, blowing up all the support vehicles and promptly starting work on getting up the sides of the transport itself to cut the roof open. The turtles show up, applying a motorized can of whoop-butt with plenty of manhole covers and other amusing touches, but it isn't long before Shredder finds his way to the roof after getting some slight assistance from some other prisoners being transported when they take out Jones and his driver.
The turtles try and net Shredder as he jumps to the escape helicopter, but unexpectedly they all witness him disappear in thin air - a teleportation device built by Baxter whisking him away. Even more unexpected is when Shredder finds himself not in the presence of his clan, but instead a giant mechanical body with an alien popping out of it's stomach. A large exposition dump tells us of all sorts of things - mainly that two more parts are needed for the alien Krang to bring his giant war machine to earth and take it over. Shredder agrees to help - not as though he's in much a position to decline - on the condition that Krang help him deal with his turtle problem. Thus a little vial of goo is given to Shredder, so he can create something more on equal footing to deal with the turtles.
The first one, although an over the top thing frequently, probably did a better job with plot than this follow up. It handles its ties to the first relatively well - an arrangement from the turtles allowing Vern to take all the credit, allowing them to stay in the shadows and out of attention. One would have though that someone would have seen them at the end of that battle, but I imagine that if it was few enough it'd still be easy enough to believe that people just thought those folks were crazy or whatever. Here though, we have this over-arching plot with Krang and his machine, which in turn flows onto Shredder that causes him to make Bebop and Rocksteady into their more memorable counterparts, while also containing Baxter and his science shenanigans to help make all of that happen. On the other side, you have April's quest for overall being helpful - tracking things to Baxter and helping try to keep Shredder locked up and all that - and Casey's quest to prove he's not crazy by catching the crooks that escaped him while he's taken off the case, and of course the Turtles and their same-old story of not being able to work as a team and butting heads while complaining about not being able to go out and interact with people and enjoy the "normal life" until the final act when they come together. All being said, you'd think it would be complex with so many things - but it all feels very watered down. I mean, you could probably follow this movie drunk it's so simplistic in it's approach to everything.
With that comes the obligatory use of convenience everywhere. It's actually a little annoying if you start thinking about it at all, and certainly serves as a hard-stop to whatever immersion a person might be experiencing when every step of the way usually has some sort of item or "magic" that just makes things happen - from a guy giving out untraceable phones to crooks keeping a GPS to track them (with inputted names for each phone) to remotely hacking an alien war machine's block to gain access to the information of what it is, how complete it is, and who it's owner is. Needless to say, plot is not this movie's strong point. Acting ranges from meh to decent, with the agent character being the most annoying and April's character alone ranging from disinterest to a decent amount of trying. Jokes will be hit or miss, but there's certainly some good moments in there - a particular one with a ninja star stands out for me.
Effects work is pretty good, as it was in the last movie. The turtles have improved over the last one, although I honestly can't quite place what it is about them that looks nicer. There was a few moments where I felt like I was just watching a guy in a mo-cap suit walking around though, and that's something I never noticed in the first. Maybe it has something to do with the aforementioned thing I can't put my thumb on. Plenty of explosions, flips, and action sets to enjoy in this department however, and even the criminal mutants or alien with is ro-body look great. There was also a few moments of (at least what I thought) interesting camera shots - such as one angle that is very reminiscent of what a skateboarder with a GoPro might have while recording his stunts while Mickey is riding his board.
Overall, it has some improvements over the original, and it drops the ball in some other regards. It gave people what they all wanted - more named villains they can remember, more little easter eggs, Casey Jones - but not always in the way they wanted (I'm talking about you, Casey Jones). It had some good moments, it had some moments that weren't so good, and a lot of that is going to change from person to person - Fart jokes, for example, our one of my weakness even if I can acknowledge they are dumb and didn't need to be in the movie. I had fun with it for the most part, but don't really feel drawn to come back at all. It's a mediocre thing - without a doubt a rent before buy - but it's still better than the Turtle musicals.
Now, one might normally expect something comparing it to the stuff from yesteryear, but I was never into the Turtle's comics. Personally, I preferred the longer-haired jokey Jones with anger issues to the one presented to us in this movie who effectively plays out like a bland ex-cop character with minor tantrum abilities, and a few scenes of acting that make it seem he didn't even think it was a good idea. The wiener jokes Beeb and Rock make? Not my cup of tea, but the two are far better than the second live action TMNT movie's contributions to mutated pets (although they did have their own charm). If anything, the main question anyone should ask is how April gained the magic powers to alter her darn outfit on the fly. Yeah, I saw the sudden disappearing pants cutting room. You dropped the ball there.