Every now and then, there’s a movie that’s just the right kind of stupid. It’s just stupid enough to be completely daft and yet manages to a surprising amount of fun. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is that movie. That said, it is abysmally stupid.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is no stranger to reboots, but there are a few things that people are very fond of. One of these things is Krang, the alien brain from Dimension X who once had a body but had it stripped because he’s a war criminal so bad that he couldn’t be allowed to keep his body. Through means unknown in the 1987 cartoon, he managed to come to Earth and team up with The Shredder.
Now, in addition to that, the Turtles hold a very special place in my heart. I remember running home from kindergarten that was over shortly before 11am to catch the Heroes in a Halfshell at shortly after 11am. For our American readers, we used to walk to and from kindergarten. It was about a ten minute walk from home. It’s quite common here and some of my expat friends are very confused that this is a thing what with all the wild animals, child molesters, kidnappers and rapists out there. All snark aside, those runs home were some of my favourite moments of my childhood and to this day, I can sing the German theme of the show – sung by Frank Zander – without missing a beat.
So, along with a lot of people, I was very excited when I heard Krang (Brad Garrett) was going to be the big bad of the sequel to the oddly received 2014 reboot simply titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When it was announced that Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly aka. Sheamus in wrestling circles) – two street thugs mutated into a warthog and a rhino respectively – were part of the movie as well, I was even more excited. Then they announced that Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) was going to be part of it. I was over the moon. Surely this was going to be the fulfilment of all my childhood dreams. All the awesome things that I could have dreamed up as a kid… in one movie!
But I was entertained.
To Be Young Again
I will say this, though. If I was young again, I would probably think that this movie is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to the world. Because the writing will not woo anyone over the age of about eight. It is phenomenally stupid. There isn’t a single scene where a character neglects to narrate what exactly is happening in the scene.
Also, whenever something technological appears, a character has the befitting technological doodad that is compatible with everything ready. Of course, this comes with the necessary exposition that something does something. Most egregiously, Donatello scans a single part of the Technodrome – Krang’s massive flying fortress that used to be on treads in the 1987 cartoon – and he immediately gets information on what it is, what it does and who it’s run by. Baxter Stockman manages to immediately replicate alien mutagen.
God, is this movie stupid.
But it’s a pleasant kind of stupidity. While other movies have the occasional moment of stupidity and create a kind of jarring effect, Out of the Shadows is consistently stupid. So it’s much easier to suspend disbelief and revel in the sheer idiocy of this.
My Favourite Brain!
The worst part of this movie is that Krang hailed as the big bad new villain is in exactly three scenes and spends those screaming. He doesn’t get an origin story or any kind of explanation, just “Hi, I’m Krang. I’m evil. Bwahahaha!” and then the Turtles fight him.
What a waste of one of my favourite childhood characters. The same can be said for the hockeystick-wielding vigilante Casey Jones. But with him, not only is it the fact that he’s in barely five scenes, his backstory was completely changed from an angry sports fan to a disgraced police officer who puts on the hockey mask because reasons. It makes no sense, it’s no fun and it’s only saved by the almost naïve enthusiasm that actor Stephen Amell brings to the role. Anything Amell does is usually a lot of fun to watch – with the exception of Arrow season four – because he just seems so excited to be doing this.
The same fate befalls pretty much any other character other than the four Turtles – Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) – and the two henchmen of The Shredder (Brian Tee). The movie itself feels a lot like a bad episode of the old cartoon where some technological doodad does a thing that could help the villains and the heroes have to stop it. In this movie, it’s three parts of some sort of black hole generating teleportation machine that is in the USA and in Brazil. So it’s one fight scene leading to the next.
What stands out about those fight scenes is that there’s very little fighting. There’s a lot of dodging and Parkour, but very little actual fighting.
So as it stands, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – while stupid beyond belief – is a delight. It doesn’t pretend to be smart or intelligent or anything. It’s a silly film for younger audiences who will no doubt have a lot of fun watching it. Me, I watched it once, was amused, disappointed, had a laugh or two and walked out not feeling like I should ever have to watch it again.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows started airing in Swiss cinemas this week. Go check it out, let your childhood live up and lean back.