Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)

So despite the first new movie reboot in this franchise being somewhat garbage, it made a lot of cash, and that means we get a sequel whether we like it or not. Personally I thought the last movie was pretty poor with forced humour and too much reliance on the ugly CGI monster, but twas to be expected. So onwards with the rebooted franchise we go, first question for me, what's the continuity like? Well, it feels like they've rebooted the franchise on the quiet (again!) for this sequel truth be told. We have a new actor playing Shredder (who is also no longer a gigantic Silver Samurai rip-off), a new female actress playing Karai, a new actor playing Baxter Stockman, and a new voice actor for Leonardo. Maybe I'm over reacting a bit but when you change most of the leads for a sequel it doesn't bode well as an early impression (plus I am a real stickler for continuity).

So this time around Baxter Stockman is now working for Shredhead who is in police custody. Whilst breaking Shredder out of custody using a teleportation device devised by Stockman, Shredder is hijacked in mid-teleportation by the evil Krang in another dimension. There Krang informs Shredder that he is after three pieces of equipment that he originally sent to Earth to open a portal to his own dimension. Apparently the three pieces were originally one piece but broke apart upon entering Earth's atmosphere, or whatever. Krang promises Shredder a place at his side ruling the Earth in exchange for his assistance. Krang also gives Shredder some mutagen in order to help him combat the Turtles, this is how we arrive with mutant versions of Bebop and Rocksteady (both of whom broke out of custody with Shredder).

Right, no more than around ten minutes into the movie and already we are confronted with a gratuitous sequence of Megan Fox stripping down from her undercover reporter clothes, into a slutty, porn-esque, schoolgirl fetish outfit complete with the obligatory midriff shot. Sooo once again you have to ask yourself, who exactly is this film gonna be aimed at? No I'm not complaining about this gratuitous sequence, no, no, no, no...don't be silly (it got my full attention as it did in the original film), but its still amazing how they (Bay) continually manage to put these types of images into, essentially, kids movies. From there we swiftly move onto the next gratuitous scene, only this time its toy merchandise porn. Now before I carry on with my digs, yes it was totally expected that this movie would indeed follow the original 90's cartoon in terms of visuals, we got that from the first movie. And of course I realise that this movie is all about selling crapola to kids in terms of merchandising every bloody thing going, mainly toys. All that being said, I give you the turtle van, now a dump truck, which we saw way back in the 90's cartoon. So I'm not essentially complaining about the use of the turtle van/truck, but what they've done with it here is pretty nasty. I mean, huge remote controlled arms with nunchakus that spring from the side? I think the original toy fired manhole covers but unsure if the cartoon version did. Still the interior was pretty sweet I'll give it that.

Now of course this being a virtual cartoon movie which we have all basically had to accept (at least the grown-ups who wanted a dark Turtles take like the original comic have), I still have to question some of the motives, emotions and reactions here. My main example being the moment Shredder gets zapped into another dimension and meets Krang. Now we all know Shredder is a badass, sure, but surely even he would slightly flip out at the sight of an alien from another dimension that looked like a moist, human brain/squid hybrid with razor sharp teeth. Surely the fact he's just been teleported into a completely new realm of existence with new lifeforms and technology etc...would kinda make anyone's mouth drop and eyes bulge. Nope! he takes it all in stride, not so much as blinking at the fact he's face to face with an alien from another dimension, no questions at all, he just accepts the deal and bosh he's done. Neither do we get any sort of story for Krang, no hows, whys or what the fucks. Krang just turns up, he's there, don't question it, just deal with it.

Oh! and before I forget, Casey Jones is in this movie. Yep that's right, its all fan service by the bucketload this time around people, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang and Casey Jones. Problem is, they all fit into this movie accept for Jones who could quite easily be taken out and you'd never know the difference. Sure this guy looks like Jones, minus the hair, and he does Jones-esque stuff, but there's no point to him being here. All he does (or, all he's there for) is hit on April O'Neil (no shit) and fight Bebop and Rocksteady very briefly. When I say fight I mean runaway from and act like a diversion. Yeah sure he's got the badass mask n all but...I dunno...whatever.

In general the main problem with this movie is not so much the fact you've gotta use suspension of disbelief because that's a given. Its the fact that stuff just happens, moves on, and you gotta just accept it as explained with Shredder meeting Krang. Yes this is a daft cartoonish movie based on an outlandish comicbook creation, but when the turtles are travelling to South America how exactly did they manage to get into an airliners cargo hold? What's more, when they jump out of it they leave the cargo hold bay open! Now wouldn't that cause some major issue for that airliner? When landing on the second airliner wouldn't the impact, damage and extra weight cause issues? Speaking of the very brief trip to South America to find one piece of the jigsaw, I trust the turtles all had vaccinations before going? Why on earth would Bebop and Rocksteady need a tank for this? Since when did the Foot clan have their own airliner and tank anyways?? Also, are we really to believe that not one person had discovered that huge piece of alien metal that had impacted in the jungle? Sure its the jungle but its big! No detection as it entered Earth's atmosphere? no follow up? Lastly, how did Bebop and Rocksteady manage to get back to the US? Again, how did the turtles manage to get into another airliners cargo hold back to the US?? I'm not even gonna mention how stupid the entire airborne plane and river sequences were. Law of physics, gravity and everything...out the window, jettisoned, gone.

I could go on really, is it amusing to do so. One last example, as the turtles are gearing up to fight the mysterious alien that is coming through a portal over New York. Donatello uses his nerdy computer gadgets to try and analyse the threat. Amazingly and quite conveniently his little computer gadget is able to inform him exactly what's happening, what is coming through the portal, and that the alien overseeing all this is called Krang!! Why and how the flying flip would Donatello's homemade gadgetry be able to tell him all this??!! I'm guessing his computer is advanced and can dish out some brilliant info whilst being able to work things out, but how would it know about alien lifeforms and technology from another bloody dimension! Even as so far as to pinpoint the lifeforms name! Sheesh!! This to me was pure cartoon writing, literally lifted straight out of a 80/90's cartoon where you typically wouldn't bat an eyelid, but in a big time movie like this? Come on guys, try a bit will ya.

So what's the score at the end of the day? Well unsurprisingly the movie doesn't stray too far from what was set up originally. That being said the visuals are still nice to look at (as they were in the first movie at times) with some impressive moments such as seeing wet turtles, the Technodrome sequence looked good, Bebop and Rocksteady were surprisingly faithful to their cartoon counterparts, and Krang was also quite surprisingly faithful and decent looking. I'll even go as far as to say that I actually liked the look of Krang and his robotic body, I liked the way he spoke and I liked what we saw of the Technodrome, all promising. Everything else is pretty much the usual, typical, overly glossy, overly shiny, greenscreened, CGI fare which I'm sure you've all come to expect these days. Nothing special, nothing to write home about, it all does the job much like the rather mundane cast which could so easily of been better. Basically I can't help but feel there's actually an even better movie just beneath the surface with this, just a little more effort and some better casting and this could of been a smash hit. With that, its fine, yes its better than the first movie which was awful, the villains do up the ante successfully and overall it does just about work. I'd say its just about on par with the 1991 sequel, an acceptable popcorn level, just ride with it.