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

Remember the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series? Compared to the comics, it was a very lighthearted and goofy take on the characters. Much like many of the other cartoons that came out of that era, the TMNT series served as both entertainment and advertisement. After all, who wouldn’t want to get a turtle blimp after seeing it in action on TV? As long as you remember these particular aspects of the original animated series, chances are that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will hit you right in the nostalgia.

It’s difficult to critique a film like this without putting it into the right context. If you’re not familiar with the original animated series, chances are that you’re going to take issue with a few scenes in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. There are plot details that are somewhat silly and unrealistic, but everything about that original cartoon was silly and unrealistic. For crying out loud, there is an episode where they make the bull in a china shop joke, and that episode is filled with puns so bad that even your dad would groan.

Movie Poster for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Source: Paramount Pictures.
Movie Poster for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Source: Paramount Pictures.

Out of the Shadows definitely has its fair share of groan worthy jokes and puns, but that’s the way I like it. If you want a faithful adaptation of the cartoon that you watched back in the 90’s, this movie is perhaps even more faithful than you’d expect. I saw a few reviews complaining that Shredder doesn’t do much in this movie, but if you actually go back and watch that goofy cartoon, you’ll notice that Shredder was a fairly ineffective villain back then as well.

When one reviewer described this film as “critic-proof,” they were talking about the fact that any complaint you can make about the film is more than likely tied to something that is directly referencing the Ninja Turtles properties of the past. In other words, you can say that the plot is ridiculous and sophomoric, but that’s part of the charm behind the whole franchise.

We’re talking about a story where four mutant turtles take on a group of ninjas led by an ego-maniacal master who is covered in blades. Oh, and the turtles were mutated with the help of a mutagen that came from another dimension after a group of aliens came to earth. Nothing about this story is realistic or serious in any way, shape or form. If you’re feeling like the movie should have a tighter plot and be less goofy, you’re missing the point of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Limited Edition TMNT 2 poster sold exclusively at WonderCon. Source: Paramount.
Limited Edition TMNT 2 poster sold exclusively at WonderCon. Source: Paramount.

With that out of the way, allow me to say that Out of the Shadows was an absolute blast. It literally felt like the original TMNT cartoon had come to life on the big screen, and that is really a dream come true for me. If you’re still hoping to see something that more closely replicates what we saw in the Mirage comics, you might be disappointed in this movie; however, if you’re feeling nostalgic for that old school animated series and all the toys that came with it, this is going to be right up your alley.

Although a lot of shellheads took issue with the first film in this series, it’s safe to say that the filmmakers went back to the drawing board with the sequel and attempted to give the fans everything they wanted. Fans were asking why there was a lack of focus on the turtles themselves and why shredder looked like a robot; they wanted to see characters such as Baxter Stockman, Krang, Casey Jones, Bebop and Rocksteady. Now that the movie is out, it’s clear that the head honchos at Platinum Dunes actually listened to these concerns from the fans and literally fixed all of these problems.

Of course, when you shove this many new characters into a sequel, sometimes the result can feel like a jumbled mess. Thankfully, this film manages to introduce each new character while also providing a decent sense of their characterization in the film. Baxter Stockman comes across as an egotistical nerd; Casey Jones is headstrong and hyper-focused on his own brand of justice; Bebop and Rocksteady are both strong, bumbling buffoons. Everyone has enough time to develop and show us who they are in Out of the Shadows, and that’s definitely nice to see.

Although I enjoyed the film, it’s important to note that it definitely wasn’t perfect. Some of the cinematography was pretty bad and there are some plot points that don’t make any sense, but the source material was guilty of far worse offenses. Out of the Shadows managed to fix a lot of the problems that were present in the first film, so it’s difficult to complain about any of the minor problems you might see in this one. Ultimately, this film was a total nostalgia trip that both young shellheads and their parents will enjoy. With that in mind, I give Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a…

7.5/10

 

Have you seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows? What did you think of the movie? Was our review spot on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on facebook/twitter!

 

The Author

Justin W

Justin W

My name is Justin Wren and I love to write about the TMNT! I've been a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan since the late 80's. Back then, I would watch the original animated series and play with the Playmates toys all the time. I have been following the boys ever since I was a kid, and I'm very happy to see them back in the limelight after all these years. Needless to say, I'm proud to be a member of the team on this awesome TMNT Fan Site!

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