Two years ago, I avoided the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Alright, I didn't avoid it, I just wasn't interested in seeing it. I only watched it later after some positive feedback from a few friends and my girlfriend mostly. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it actually was.
So I wasn't bothered at all by the announcement of the sequel, figuring that it would build off of what they did well in the first one. Then I watched one TV spot and saw something that excited the hell out of me:
Krang and The Technodrome. Egads. Oh yeah, and Bebop and Rocksteady.
For a minute there, I was reduced back to my child self watching the cartoons and got pumped for the fact that they were actually going to take the movies where the cartoon had done so well. So many times you see live action adaptations and they do their best to adapt a cartoon to a medium designed largely for adults and a different style of storytelling. Not this time, not with our "Heroes in a Half-shell."
And that is the biggest thing I can tell you about Out of the Shadows: It's a kid movie from start to finish. From the moment you see the Nickelodeon logo pop up on screen to the end of the movie, you should know that if you grew up with the original cartoon in the early 90's, this movie is not really aimed at you.
There's nothing wrong with that at all, it's just something that we geeks and nostalgic fans need to understand before we tear into something that is near and dear to our hearts, like we always collectively do when a reboot, remake or adaptation comes around.
For me, the entire movie played like a two-hour long live action version of the cartoon, which wasn't a bad thing in this case. It wasn't boring, there weren't really any overly obvious easter eggs that had nothing to do with the plot and there were moments for me where it felt like I was watching the cartoon come to life in front of me. I'm not someone that has a huge problem with the new design of the Turtles at all, and in fact I love what they have done with their designs for live action, so I don't have that huge divide between the cartoon look and the movie look like a lot of other people do. I was looking for how the world and the characters felt and there were a lot of times it took me back to that cartoon. The van, Casey Jones' mask, Shredder's helmet, and of course Krang and The Technodrome itself.
The only thing that kind of felt shoehorned in a bit was Tyler Perry's Baxter Stockman. Nothing against Perry's overly-nerdy performance, it just didn't seem like he was needed for what he did in the movie. Clearly if they do a third one, the door is wide open for him to become The Fly later, but it felt like that was the only real reason he was here. The rest of the plot moves on without him, to be honest.
The complete opposite of Stockman's "forced entry" into the movie is Gary Anthony Williams' Bebop and Sheamus' Rocksteady. Not only did it make sense for them to be in the movie based on the story, but they were fantastically animated and pretty close to their cartoon counterparts in terms of idiocy, purpose and how Shredder treats them. That brought me back to childhood for a bit too.
The biggest asset this movie has is the VFX, no joke. It's ridiculously good in my opinion. Everything from how the Turtles and the other mutants are animated to Krang and Technodrome itself are just remarkable. Out of the Shadows is a visually stunning movie and has some really epic shots and sequences that are just very well done.
The plot of the movie is simple: Shredder is helping Krang put together an inter-dimensional transport device so he can bring The Technodrome to Earth and rule the planet. No different than multiple episodes of the show and it's structured that way so that children can connect the dots and figure it out pretty well.
This movie's also got a good heart and some family messages about teamwork and respecting differences as the brothers go through some "issues" with the fact that they always have to stay hidden for fear of the world treating them as freaks and monsters. Again, great material for a kid movie that adults can also get something out of if they choose.
Largely though, it looks like not a lot of people are choosing to watch this at all.
Damn. I mean, really? On an opening weekend for a big blockbuster property from the past? I'm sure the Ghostbusters haters are hoping for this kind of a theater turnout in July, but this was more than surprising for a TMNT movie. Are that many people not interested? Are people still that upset about the noses or the fact that the Turtles are superhero size? Does Megan Fox still bother you as April O'Neill? Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick? Are you having a hard time seeing The Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) play Casey Jones? Ok, that last one I kind of get.
Or is it after two months of huge comic book blockbusters from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to Captain America: Civil War to X-Men: Apocalypse, we're already getting burned out on the cinematic geekery? I don't think that's it because there's still a ton of movies left on this year's schedule (Independence Day, Star Trek, Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange) that I cannot wait to see, so maybe the buzz for Out of the Shadows just wasn't there because people aren't interested. Maybe it's Transformers syndrome and it's just another one of your childhood franchises made into something you don't want to accept for whatever reason.
Or maybe they made a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for kids of this generation to enjoy and you aren't taking them to see it like you should be. I don't know. What I do know is that with this movie there is plenty for a kid to see that he or she will enjoy just as much as you did when you were their age watching the cartoon.