This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
The Movie: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry
Director: Dave Green
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) After facing Shredder, who has joined forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady to take over the world, the Turtles must confront an even greater nemesis: the notorious Krang.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 37 percent
Froemming: It seems like we have been on a kick with crapping over beloved ‘80s films. This week, I decided to allow Michael Bay and his director acolyte, David Green, to do that for us with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” a film that plays nothing but fan service to the ‘80s cartoon series that I grew up on and….
….still somehow fails.
But before we get into a discussion about CGI turtles and the problems that come with that, Brown what did you think about this film?
Brown: Definitely wasn’t looking forward to it. Like any good child of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, TMNT was a definitive part of my youth. I remember having the turtles that would fold into their shell and being jealous of my friend Matt for having the Turtle Van. Don’t think I had any friends rich enough to have the Technodrome.
Now, when I say I wasn’t looking forward to this movie, it’s not because of Michael Bay being associated with it. It was more because the original movies weren’t very good. The first one was OK, but “Secret of the Ooze” was good only in the ironic sense (not to mention Vanilla Ice’s other hit was in the movie). And the third one, that could be a future JOE-DOWN title.
Really, the ‘80s cartoon series was the only thing that hits real nostalgia for me. And this is not the cartoon. Or the old “Turtles in Time” arcade game that is still a personal favorite to this day.
And this movie, which is the sequel to a TMNT movie that I never saw in the first place… oh boy… Let’s just talk about these ugly, ugly turtles so I can move on with my life.
Froemming: It is two years after the events of the first film, which I watched last year and remember nothing of it.
Gob Bluth Vern Fenwick is the hero of NYC for stopping Shredder, and our heroes, the disturbing-looking Ninja Turtles, are still — you guessed it — in the shadows, watching an NBA game from the top of the arena as they chow down on pizza. Which, to be honest, watching the mutants in this film has made me not want to eat pizza or spaghetti ever again. It’s…it’s pretty gross.
Brown: My first notes on this movie pertained to the turtles’ looks: OH GOD, THESE THINGS ARE HIDEOUS. Like, it looks uncomfortable to be one of the ninja turtles. And it’s bizarre that turtles that look so cumbersome and steroid-y are so limber and athletic. It’s good that they have shells because their actual backs have to be riddled with zits, what with the steroids and all.
And they somehow work their way to the middle of the scoreboard at Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks. During halftime, the crowd honors Vern, who takes the credit for saving New York since the turtles can’t. He’s doing what he’s told, and the turtles shoot spitballs at him. Spitballs that hit the back of Vern’s head and due to movie magic (??) end up on his face. Their cover is almost blown when Michelangelo drops a slice of pizza and the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan slips on the damn thing.
And now, because this is a Michael Bay-produced movie, it’s time to meet a female lead that we are going to needlessly oversexualize.
Froemming: Ah, yes. Megan Fox. Bay has been oversexualizing her for more than a decade now. She plays our trusty journalist, April O’Neil, a reporter who somehow has no understanding how journalism works. She editorializes, she steals private property, she puts herself in the story she is covering.
Brown: April O’Neil isn’t even a journalist in this until the very end of the movie! She’s just there to help the turtles get intel. It’s not even under the guise of her profession. You replace April with any made-up character and it changes NOTHING.
Froemming: She is onto Baxter Stockman, played by Tyler Perry, who is like a mad scientist who, for reasons that are never revealed, is helping out Shredder. To the point where Baxter helps break this homicidal maniac out of police custody so….he can do what exactly? I was so baffled by Baxter’s motives in this.
Brown: I know Baxter Stockman is a bad guy from the cartoon. But just like April O’Neil, we know the name of the character, but what this movie makes them do, you can replace them with a new character and it doesn’t change a thing. You can build a movie around Baxter Stockman, but as we’ll discuss later, there’s a plethora of bad guys in this movie and none of them stand out.
And yeah, can we find out why Baxter Stockman turned evil? They tout how brilliant he is, saying he graduated MIT at 15 years old. So a guy that brilliant and notable has to become an evil-doer… why?
This is why you don’t cram a Legion of Doom-number of baddies in a movie. Have one, build a backstory and go from there. This movie was made last year and movie makers still can’t figure that (REDACTED) out.
Froemming: Well, Shredder is being transported by the NYPD (including
Green Arrow Casey Jones, who is a police officer in this). With him are two punks, Bebop and Rocksteady (they do not have last names for whatever reason). Look, I get fan service and all, but these guys dressed like Bill Paxton did in the first “Terminator” film, and I didn’t buy it for a second.
Brown: See, I didn’t mind Bebop and Rocksteady in this. Those characters never had much depth and they work well as side-protagonists. Also, Rocksteady was played by Sheamus of the WWE, so the wrestling nerd in me appreciated it.
The two do get grating later. But there was plenty more to be annoyed with rather than a couple pawns.
Froemming: It was more the fashion that bothered me. Purple mohawk and 80s glasses? Who did Bebop think he was, Kanye West?
Anyway, our grotesque heroes catch wind that Shredder is going to be freed, and they are on the scene with that (REDACTED) awesome van that I wished I had the toy of when I was a little child. But Shredder has a trick up his sleeve: An intergalactic doo-dad (technical term) that allows him to teleport!
Brown: Yeah, so Shredder is getting moved to upstate New York, which is a fresh hell, it seems, from what I’ve ever heard.
There’s some OK action here, but let’s be honest: It’s a lame version of the truck chase from “The Dark Knight.” With turtles. In a van that has nunchucks.
And yeah, Shredder teleports because this movie liked giving us the middle finger and feeding us an endless supply of (REDACTED).
Froemming: And Shredder teleports all right. He teleports to another dimension where we get yet another villain of the TMNT rogues gallery in Krang!
I nearly vomited when I saw Krang. It was here I realized these characters work better in animation. Making them look real is downright disgusting. Just. Disgusting.
Brown: Oh, Krang is the stuff of my nightmares. It doesn’t help when he’s voiced by the brother from “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Froemming: Krang has a job for Shredder: Grab all the intergalactic doo-dads on earth so he can enter their dimension and rule our planet. And Shredder just agrees, because why the (REDACTED) not?
Now, I want to jump back a little to the Knicks game. At the basketball game, we get a recap of the events of the first film IN THE MIDDLE OF A GAME! I….I seriously think this movie was written by manatees popping balls with words on them in a sequence to make a script.
Brown: To be fair, that was helpful for me not seeing the first movie.
Froemming: Anyway, Shredder is given some purple ooze to help him on his quest to help Krang for reasons? He has Baxter synthesize it through a weird-looking whatchamacallit in his lab that is conveniently there for such an occasion. Shredder shoots some of this ooze into Bebop and Rocksteady, who somehow turn into a warthog and a rhino.
The science is still out on this film, I believe.
Brown: My logic: This movie is anti-evolution. See, with this serum, Baxter says that it’ll bring people back to their place in the animal kingdom. So two humans turn into a rhino and warthog. Umm, shouldn’t they be some form of primate?
This movie hates science more than the Insane Clown Posse.
Froemming: Baxter says there is some mysterious gene that connects them to their true animal past, which science tells us is a primate. But (REDACTED) science and logic, right?
Brown: A couple things I want to touch on quick.
OK, first, Casey Jones. We’ll get more into him shortly, but I want to bring up how much I hate pre-hockey mask Casey. He gets suspended from work after Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady escape custody. Then he goes on a tirade about how he wants to become a NYC detective because he “knows the streets better than anyone.” Man, I hate that trope. Renegade cops always know what it’s really like… Go sell that to “Lethal Weapon.”
Then, April has a plan to get the emails from Baxter that were deleted when she hacked his phone. So she gets a magical USB stick that’ll magically unerase emails in a technology that Fox News and Breitbart would love to have in regards to Hillary Clinton. Now, she tells the turtles to stay back because it’s light out. But by the time she gets to retrieving the emails, it’s dark again. What the hell were you doing, April? We don’t see you work until the end of the movie…
Froemming: Well, that’s because she is busy sneaking into Baxter’s lab (illegal, and something journalists do not do) and sees the creation of Bebop and Rocksteady, and decides to steal a vial of the ooze (theft, illegal and something journalists tend to not do). She is then chased by some good old-fashioned Foot Soldiers where they bump into Casey Jones, who wears the hockey mask once for fan service and we never see again!
Casey has tracked Bebop and Rocksteady because he visited their favorite bar, where the jukebox plays Vanilla Ice’s hit song, “Ice Ice Baby” because remember he was in that other Ninja Turtles movie!
Bebop and Rocksteady have burner phones from the bartender, who also HAS A GPS ON THEM SO THEY CAN BE TRACKED! What is the point to having these phones then?
Brown: This is the same movie that has Casey Jones stopping a ninja’s sword with a wooden hockey stick AND has a slapshot so accurate the New York Rangers should have signed him yesterday.
Also, April is outrunning the Foot Clan in wedges. And later we find that Bebop and Rocksteady can be tracked using some of the (REDACTED) ooze.
What is the point of anything we’re watching?
Froemming: Well, after Casey takes out these ninjas, the turtles finally show up. And for whatever reason, Casey Jones doesn’t puke all over himself seeing these things in person. It turns out the turtles and Casey have the same goal in finding and taking out these bad guys, so they bring him to their secret hideout in the sewers of Manhattan. Well, they threaten him if he doesn’t go. Which is kind of why they should be afraid of people being frightened of them.
Brown: While the turtles convince Casey to get his ass kicked by Splinter, Donatello deduces that the ooze could be used to turn the turtles into humans. He tells this to Leonardo, who stays hush-hush about this because Raphael is a hot-head and Michelangelo is a dunce.
However, Michelangelo overhears this and tells Raph, who predictably is pissed about this. Because what is a TMNT movie without some dissension among the ranks?
This was all foreshadowed earlier in the movie, Chekov’s gun-style, when Master Splinter (who is as nauseating as any of the CGI characters in this movie) tells Leo that as long as he keeps the team unified, they will always succeed.
Froemming: I just want to add, later in the film Donatello says the ooze will turn them into humans, but their insides would remain so they can breathe toxic air. Yet another giant middle-finger to science, logic and reason.
Now, I did get a chuckle when they get to the turtles’ headquarters. Casey Jones sees Splinter and naturally starts freaking out about such a giant rat. Splinter in this scene is listening to Lionel Richie. I don’t know why, but for some reason I found that just hilarious.
Brown: When the idea of the turtles becoming human was brought up, you supported it, right? I did, just because I wouldn’t have to look at those hideous turtles again.
Froemming: Absolutely. The person who OKed these CGI abominations should be sent to the gulag.
Brown: Because of in-fighting, the turtles split up for a mission. Leonardo and Donatello go to the Museum of Natural History to retrieve one of the dimensional doohickeys. And in their frustration, Raphael and Michelangelo recruit April and Casey to break into the police station to steal more of the ooze.
And… neither plan works. Bebop and Rocksteady get the doohickey. And, the Foot Clan gets to the ooze first, which begins a big fight in the police station. Raph and Mikey get the ooze, but April and Casey are arrested after some footage shows up of April previously robbing the lab, courtesy of Baxter Stockman.
Now, the police say they’re going to keep this ooze robbery internal as to not put the public in a panic. But the next scene says the turtles are ALL OVER the scanners. Any newspaper worth anything has a scanner and will start reporting about oversized turtles breaking and entering a police station. No way that stuff stays internal, guys.
Froemming: Well, in the middle of the turtles bickering at one another, Donatello realizes he can trace Bebop and Rocksteady because of the ooze in their system, which sure. Whatever. (REDACTED) everything, ammirite? The turtles see that their enemies are heading to Brazil and so they hop into a cargo hold on an airplane, where I imagine Dennis Reynolds was joining the Mile High Club with some Desert Trash. But, Bebop and Rocksteady have, like, hours ahead of our disgusting heroes and grab the dimensional doohickey and are on their way back to the states. The plan: Jump out of the airplane as it is over the other plane and steal the doohickey from the warthog and rhino. Easy!
Brown: With all the other suspension of disbelief (REDACTED) that goes on in this movie, at this point, a plane-to-plane jump left me unaffected. Save for Raphael jumping late and hitting the front of the plane. Raph should be next-tier dead. But nope. This movie is stupid.
And then, the movie becomes a bad video game. We have the turtles fight Bebop and Rocksteady, and there is so much CGI in this scene that the action unintentionally slows down like when the frame rate of a video game drops and lags. It’s so hard to ignore when the plane is moving at a typical speed and the characters are moving like they’re on a 56k modem.
And in the next five minutes, every character in Brazil should be next-level dead. Rocksteady is atop a tank that gets flipped. Everyone goes through a car crash. They have to stay afloat in the high speeds of the Amazon River. Then, the turtles fall down a waterfall.
AND EVERYONE SURVIVES THIS. (REDACTED) YOU, MOVIE.
Froemming: Well, defying the laws of science, Bebop and Rocksteady make off with the doohickey, thus allowing Shredder to open the portal to Krang’s dimension, thus giving us yet another (REDACTED) hole in the sky with (REDACTED) coming out of it for the umpteenth time in the past decade of blockbuster films. At one point I was wondering if I was watching “The Avengers.”
Now, the turtles return to New York as this is going down. They have to make a decision: Do they enter the Big Apple in their grotesque natural form, or take the ooze that will, for whatever reason, turn them into humans? The decision goes up to a vote, seeing as Leo learned from the last time he tried to push his way onto the others went sideways on him.
Brown: Sadly, they remain disgusting turtles, and they now need the help of the NYPD. Just like “The (REDACTED) Avengers.” You know, without the charm, the wit or my general interest. They give their “Elephant Man” speech about not being animals, but turtles who care about the city as well… whatever, I was zoned out.
Now, they say they have four minutes to shutdown the portal and stop the Technodrome from being built and destroying the world like a mini Death Star.
Being a stickler for accuracy here on the JOE-DOWN, the four minutes was actually five minutes, 30 seconds. I expected nothing but lies from this movie by this point, so at least it didn’t let me down.
Froemming: Shredder betrays Baxter, telling him no one will know his name after Baxter has a big speech about how Galileo and Steve Jobs will be footnotes in the history of science compared to his genius. He has Baxter taken away, and we never see him again, much like a journalist in Russia who is critical of Putin. But hey, Krang does the same to Shredder! He freezes him like Sub-Zero in “Mortal Kombat” and is placed in Krang’s toybox.
This movie was so (REDACTED) stupid.
Brown: Well, don’t you worry, because Krang is an inept main bad guy. We see it early in the movie when Krang is smashed into his robot body and acts cartooney. And he’s beaten pretty easily by our heroic foursome. Krang promises he’ll be back. I’ll pray to any and every god in modern religion to stop that from happening.
Also, let’s not forget that a ninja that is guarding one of the doohickeys at the end is subdued by laptop to the head by Will (REDACTED) Arnett.
This movie is one facepalm after another.
Froemming: What, the guy in a $10,000 suit is supposed to take out some bad guys?! COME ON.
I wish Ron Howard narrated this movie….
Anyway, yeah he and April take out the ones watching over the portal thingamajig, thus allowing Donnie to send Krang back to wherever the hell he came from. The day is saved!
And we get the turtles getting the Key to the City for their efforts. They are urged to come out and be who they are. The chief of police says people will respect them for saving the city.
Nope. If I saw one of those things in real life, my first instinct would be to kill it with fire.
Brown: Kill them with fire. Smother them with holy water. I’ll use anything I can to remove these turtles from my brain. They’re more disturbing than the frog people from “Hell Comes to Frogtown.”
So, let’s eat a slice of pizza in the most disgusting way possible and get to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Oh, hell no. This movie was terrible. I’ll never look at a franchise I loved as a child the same way again.
Brown: Nope. Your intelligence will be insulted and your senses will be assaulted by hideous CGI monsters. Stay away.