Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo. 4 illustrious painters. But to me, they were turtles first. Sunday mornings were never quite complete without the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. TMNT holds a very dear place in most of our childhoods and as it is with such things, we hate it when those things get twisted and mutate into something that might look the same (sometimes not even that), but lose what made them special in the first place – its heart and essence.
It took me a while to (kinda) accept Nickelodeon’s new take on the TMNT. It’s different. The turtles look different, April and Casey are the wrong age, it’s not Kraang but the Kraang, an alien hive mind that speaks funny, and the thing that sets me on edge most… ‘booyakasha’ instead of ‘cowabunga’.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows though is the 80s cartoon brought to life like never before. I felt like a kid again watching as waves of nostalgia overcame me. There was no doubt in my mind that these were the Turtles of my childhood. Incoming director Dave Green, a life-long TMNT fan, lives up to his claim with easter eggs peppered throughout the whole movie.
From the very beginning we’re treated to a Turtle-van (ok, it’s a garbage truck) that spits out manhole covers (yay!) and a sequence where our heroes in a half shell show just what they can do as they move across (and under) New York. Each Turtle is very well defined and oozes of his own distinct personality.
While some might still not be on board with the way the Turtles look, there can be no complaints about the way Bebop and Rocksteady are portrayed… right down to the purple mohawk and shades. Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrell aka Sheamus of WWE fame, play their parts as shredders first mutants very well and it is their showpiece fight with the Turtles that totally captures the essence of TMNT.
While Shredder is very much a sideshow, he’s a whole lot more convincing this time around. The big bad in Out if the Shadows in none other than Kraang as we know and love him… all superior and squeaky and mushy at the same time. He even manages to squeeze one of his big bear hugs from the TMNT video games of old in… and then you have the Technodrome in all it’s one-eyed glory.
While TMNT: Out of the Shadows very clearly levels up and gives fan service, there are still a couple of things that could have been better. For instance, Casey Jones. Now most of us know very well what Stephen Amell can do, apart from that one fight scene, his take on Jone’s comes across as extremely flat, but still, with some potential.
Megan Fox on the other hand has probably hit the pinnacle of her abilities… which is not saying much. Other than a re-cast, there’s really not much you can do with her that adds anything other than a slow-motion strut. Gratefully, she doesn’t have as much to do in this sequel as the Turtles take centre stage as they should.
Just as how the Turtles struggle with fitting into society and how they’re perceived by people (very X-Men imho), if you’re still hung up on how 2014’s TMNT didn’t live up to the animated series (I still miss snarky Raphael), it’s time to put aside the negativity ’cause Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the animated series come to life in all it’s glory. Turtle Power!