Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Out of the Shadows

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Cert: 12A / 112 mins / Dir. Dave Green / Trailer

Has it really been 18 months since the last one of these? It's ironic that a movie so largely forgettable seems more recent than that. No matter, Mr Bay's back in town with everyone's favourite adolescent amniotes; whooping, shrieking and high-fiving their way through the night-time streets of New York like the X-Men wired on Sunny D.

The thematic groundwork for this sequel was laid back in 2014, so the enforced coolness of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello should be about as surprising as Megan Fox in a Britney-esque schoolgirl outfit (for plot reasons, honest) or Will Arnett autopiloting his way through the screenplay. But I've got to admit that this movie's a lot more comfortable in its own skin than its predecessor. For all the hyperkinetic camerawork and Saturday-morning-cartoon plot about interdimensional lego-building, the film's saving grace is that it's not trying to play the manchild-nostalgia card this time: TMNTOOTS*1 is unashamedly a kids' film. Not a particularly great kids' film, but it at least forgives the movie its worst excesses and scattershot humour.

The film channels many influences once again, and feels for all the world like Christopher Nolan's Batman by the way of 1993's Super Mario Brothers. If it'd just slowed the hell down I'd probably have engaged with things a lot more, but that's like asking the Terminator not to shoot people.

And I almost can't believe I'm writing this, but the Turtles have far more in the way of individual personalities and development this time around, and it makes their scenes together pretty enjoyable. That said, everything else that's going on is a bit like watching a toddler playing with action figures: you're vaguely aware of the general story being acted out, but any narrative detail or nuance exists solely in the mind of the one wielding the toys...

All in all: perfectly acceptable, all things considered. I can't get annoyed with it*2 as I have with the week's other big release, because at least it's fun. Headache-inducing fun, but largely good-natured, nonetheless.

Oh, and did anyone else notice that when Will Arnett's Vernon steals the security camera from the lab, the timestamp on the in-cam footage says 18:04, yet it's broad daylight outside when Donatello mentioned earlier in the film that it's set around Hallow'een, so it'd be dark by then?

Oh, just me then…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The first one, pretty much.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you're a fan already.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Pretty much, but it doesn't aim particularly high.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Not particularly.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not at all.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't, but there is a boot-shot.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: There's a veritable shit-ton of behind the scenes folks who've worked on various Star Wars projects involved in TMNT, but let's stick with the screen-friendly choice of Mr Will Arnett, who provided the voice of Batman in The Lego Movie, which also featured the vocal talents of Liam 'Qui-Gonn' Neeson, Anthony 'C-3PO' Daniels and Billy Dee 'Lando' Williams.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
*1 Which is what all the cool kids are calling it.
*2 Mind you, the script uses "ninjas" as the plural of ninja. Yeah, let's just give up now with that one.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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