When I went to see the first film in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film reboot back in 2014, my expectations were super low, but I was pleasantly surprised. I ended up laughing way more than I expected or could have hoped for, and there was very little of Michael Bay’s shenanigans evident which I think helped TMNT do well. Unfortunately, that was not the case with this year’s sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, out now in theaters.
Apparently, Bay (and company) must have thought that the coast was clear and decided to add his particular brand of puerile, white teenaged boy-inspired poppycock again. And there is not a soul that can tell me that Michael Bay was not behind the juvenile antics and direction evident in Out of the Shadows‘ basest moments. That’s why it is no surprise that it was a flop for the studio.
At one point, I started to doze off during the big, final fight scene between the Turtles and Krang, who in many ways stole the spotlight from the Leonardo, Mikey, Raphael, and Donnie. What does that tell you? Oh, and they made Stephen Amell, who played the friend of the Turtles Casey Jones, a bumbling idiot in several scenes. The guy is Oliver Queen on Arrow. He’s badass. Why they did this to Amell is just as confusing and irritating as Bay and company making Megan Fox go from thirsty reporter to “sexy schoolgirl” in 2016. Fox reprises her role as news reporter April O’Neil, but she must have taken her PTO to start crimefighting and flirting with Amell, a guy in a freaking hockey mask that she had just met in an alley.
The inconsistencies were often glaringly obvious, and I couldn’t help but feel that writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec couldn’t have been bothered to fix them. It was as if they didn’t think the audience would notice the improbability of a tank suddenly surfacing in the raging rapids of the Brazilian jungle, like a freaking submarine surfacing from the deep.
Shredder (Brian Tee) and Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) were an exceptionally odd couple as villainous cohorts with their exchanges–if you could call them that–were painful to watch. I did find Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly) highly enjoyable because they seemed to be the only two characters in the film having fun and making the best of a screwed up situation. Thank God, because the Turtles themselves were a bunch of killjoys.
What Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows lacks overall is fun. Whether it was police chief Rebecca Vincent (Laura Linney) hitting Jones with harsh insult after insult (at one point she calls him a loser to his face) or the Turtles fighting amongst themselves with pointed jabs at each others’ characters, TMNT 2 lost a good chunk of the lightheartedness that made the first film so successful despite the lackluster reviews. That is not the case this year.
Being a Michael Bay production means that Out of the Shadows didn’t hold back on the CGI or the special FX, which made the movie look more like a Transformers movie. Krang’s Technodrome, for example, looked like something that would have been parked in Megatron’s garage on Cybertron (if Decepticons had garages). I should have known when Bay put in a cosplayer dressed as Bumblebee from the Bayformers, err, I mean Transformers movie franchise that he was going to pay homage to himself and that dreadful franchise. I was amused for all of ten seconds before I remembered that we were going to have to suffer through Transformers: The Last Knight next year… God help us.
The thing is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows further shows that Bay and company either don’t want to or can’t leave their comfort zone. The problem is this isn’t 1995 and moviegoers are tired of being made fun of using beloved characters from their childhood. Linney’s character is an ice queen, which is mandatory in any Bay film so as to counter the nubile young tenderoni that is also mandatory in any Bay film. We’re also tired of seeing him put in his little archaic cultural critiques and juvenile fantasies in his films. At the end of the day, Bay just couldn’t help himself and Out of the Shadows paid for it.