In a deeply meaningful scene, a teenage mutant ninja turtle is imparted wisdom by his sensei rat master, told that people often fear that which they don’t understand and those who are different. In another moment, the same hero is told he must be both a leader and a brother, embracing the differences among his team. These are powerful dialogues fit well in a film built on metaphor about the changing world in which we live, and the need for – –
Just kidding. This is one absurdly stupid movie.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, a mouthful indeed, is a wildly outrageous piece of fodder for intense mockery of Mystery Science Theatre, a fan-service story about mutants doing battle in New York City that contains no logic or emotion, and certainly doesn’t even care to pretend to.
There is no real other direction to go in either. At no point would there exist any degree of seriousness or gravity, and if it tried to go that route, however briefly, it was be appealing to those who wouldn’t even bother to see the movie in the first place. And if you’re going to be stern while recreating an animated kid’s show from last century, you’ll end up with something bloated and awful like Transformers, from which TMNT shares a producer in Michael Bay, a lot of glaring lights in the background, and cars exploding in slow motion.
So you have a new Ninja Turtles movie, one that sheds the pretense and gravity the first movie in the new rebooted franchise tried and failed to garner and instead looks to please fans by welcoming a some comrades, villains, gadgets, and vehicles that millennial loves. Terribly written dialogue banally explains what little plot there is, which tends to repeat itself: bad guy is on the move, the turtles follow using Science and Technology, they fight, bad guys escape.
If you haven’t been predisposed to the world of the ninja turtles, then this will make even less sense, but it goes something like this. An mad scientist named Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) breaks free from jail the super villain Shredder (Brian Tee), accidentally teleports him to another dimension (don’t ask) where he meets a slimy pink tentacle mass named Krang that operates a giant robot and wants to destroy the world, and they set about opening a portal to Earth to enslave mankind, employing their ninja soldiers and anthropomorphic henchman in Bebop the warthog and Rocksteady the rhinoceros.
Meanwhile, the rambunctious turtles feel their camaraderie tested, barely, while enlisting the help of April O’Neill (Megan Fox) and newcomer vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). There are too many inexplicable things to count in this film where everything is as convenient as possible, characters bluntly tell each other and the audience what needs to happen now and why it’s important, and nothing is ever at stake.
For reasons unknown, the turtle Donatello has all the technological capabilities of the NSA, NASA, and NIH right on his smart watch, while Michaelangelo has a skateboard that can fly. Leonardo and Raphael are also they, and engage in a brief civil war that makes far more sense and is resolved more sensibly than Batman v. Superman.
And hey, there is a guy who knocks out ninjas with hockey pucks, a couple fart jokes, some NBA cameos, Megan Fox, and a wild airplane scene that turns into a battle on a river. Oh, and of course, plenty of potential and opening for a sequel.