TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Paramount)
Dir. Dave Green, Script. Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec
Cast: (mo-cap) Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard;(live-action)Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Laura Linney
Plot: Shredder escapes from prison to threaten the world, and the Turtles, again. *sigh*
If you are, by any chance, a TMNT aficionado, then for the first time in the history of this blog, you’re in luck. The rest of you, bear with me for a second: back in the early 90s when the Turtles were Jim Henson-designed prosthetic costumes, a movie called The Secret Of The Ooze was released. This film concerned Shredder’s (the main villain in TMNT-land) discovery of an ooze with mystical powers. and the endeavour of those four martial-arts trained reptilian of the Animalia kingdom in stopping it, with music from Vanilla Ice thrown in. And with that, my review is done of the new Turtles movie, Out Of The Shadows, which by that logic is the same film as The Secret Of The Ooze. But while the movie released a quarter-century ago is considered one of the best-worst movies (calm down, oxymoron police) ever, the new and improved CG-tech of 2016 has provided an atrocity.
Recently, I was having a chat with my good friend and fellow reviewer Sam over at reelreviewdude.wordpress.com (worth your time) about writing negative reviews, and its a topic on which we differ – Sam isn’t a big fan of shouting down a film, whereas I prefer to revel in the darkness a bit. But Out Of The Shadows got me thinking about it because I feel like to blast this movie with a classic TWIM rant would be kicking something that can’t even put up a fight. There’s not really much I can get angry about, because nothing about the movie really irked me – I didn’t have any prior investment, nor had Out Of The Shadows given me any. From the beginning there was nothing to suggest the film in question had significant potential, and at the movie’s end my opinion was justified. It’s just a mess really – a Michael Bay produced mess, I might add. And while the presence of Michael Bay, the 12 year old with a mental age predating his conception, an auteur in the loosest, shittest sense of the word, is a well felt presence indeed, I can’t even get annoyed about Bay’s mitts getting all over it because…its obvious they’d be all over this movie.
So I’m going to go at this objectively, knowing that I am a film reviewer and if I go and see a bad film it is my unwritten duty to inform you what I think’s wrong with it. Every single character is incredibly annoying, with the exception of the meditating, rat sensei whom existence on paper was inherently annoying anyway. Those characters are also completely malleable, and their emotions bend as the ludicrous, 30-second Coco Pops TV Spot plot sees fit. Regarding the plot, the gaps in its logic and believability (and that’s even buying the idea that New York City’s only guardians are four turtles who have somehow mastered pop culture referencing simultaneously with taekwondo) are about as wide as
this gap. And yes, the bloated, curdling spectre of Michael Bay, the cinematic equivalent of every element of the Iraq War from conception, to execution and finally, to withdrawal, looms large and, of course, low.
Stunningly low in fact, as director Dave Green (Earth To Echo) is seemingly possessed by his dictator to leer at Megan Fox (who once compared Bay to an actual dictator) at every opportunity, as well as mimic the classic Bay trope of shooting an actor exit a vehicle at an angle which implies we’ve been ran over by said vehicle. That doesn’t even cover Green’s own directorial sins, as he and his cinematographer Lula Carvalho jointly conspire to shoot everything at an extreme close-up, and his attempts to incorporate CGI and motion-capture technology gel together like a kitchen sink and a nuclear bomb. These CGI sequences are some of the worst I have EVER seen. Megan Fox, returning as intrepid reporter (although you wouldn’t know it, as the only time she does it is after the movie concludes) April O’Neil, can also be placed in that category with the CGI sequences. The other live-action performances aren’t too much better – Will Arnett has been funny in the past, but certainly not here, and series newcomer Stephen Amell tries incredibly hard to copy Chris Pratt throughout, but instead looks like a poor man’s Chris Pratt – nay, a destitute man’s Chris Pratt. And, in a surprise that not only caught me out but everybody else who has ever seen him act, Tyler Perry got a part in Out Of The Shadows. He puts on an evil laugh. It has to be heard to be believed. Calling your girlfriend the name of another woman leads to less awkwardness than that laugh.
One more thing I have to also mention is the editing. It is, quite frankly, a stunning feat. Jim May and Bob Ducsay, proving that two heads are far worse than one, have achieved the precise feeling of what it’s like to strap your head at a 90-degree angle to a washing machine mid-spin cycle, whilst getting repeatedly jabbed by a windmill moving in the opposite direction. Azealia Banks is more followable. It’s the first time I’ve ever watched a movie in a cinema and felt genuinely lost – I felt the urge to pull out a map, or ask someone for directions to the nearest decent film. And with that, I feel as if my solemn duty to inform has concluded. One of the main theological arguments for the existence of God reflects the role of evil in the world, and it posits that evil is not a tangible concept, but merely what occurs in the absence of good. Out Of The Shadows proves that millennium-or-more old theory in 113 minutes.
BEST WATCHED: Asleep.
With the actors providing the motion capture for the Turtles themselves stating that they’re all on three-picture contracts, it seems a given that, unless Out Of The Shadows is a major flop, a further movie in the franchise is an inevitability. The principal players won’t be out of work in the interim however: Stephen Amell of course has a hefty schedule as Oliver Queen in DC’s Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow TV series, and Will Arnett has a role in the film from The Lonely Island, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, as well as other Lego-based commitments as the Lego version of Batman.