Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) — Go ninja go!

“Oh, I’m sorry, did I get a little tentacle mucus in your eye?”

Justin’s rating: Three prepubescent mutated tortoise samurai out of four

Justin’s review: I think that it was sometime around the first Transformers movie that I swore that I would never let Michael Bay hurt me or my childhood favorites again. I certainly wasn’t about to see 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after it made the internet vomit en masse, nor was I inclined in the slightest to see this sequel. But then I heard from a few trusted sources that while the 2014 film was a pure disappointment, Out of the Shadows was far more of a classic Turtles movie and worth my time.

Well then. I guess my childhood can take one more hit for the team. You’re the team, for the record.

While technically building upon the events and origin story of the first of the Bay TMNT duology, Out of the Shadows made a lot of adjustments to appease the unamused internet. The Turtles themselves became less grotesque monstrosities, and the story itself cribbed liberally from the ’80s comics and TV show. Let’s just say that I was not expecting to see so many of the characters and elements from the classic series reappear in a more modern format. This included welcome sights such as Casey Jones, Kraang (now with an extra A), Beebop, Rocksteady, Baxter, and the Turtle Van. Which, to my great delight, actually did shoot manhole covers.

I think what happened here is that the filmmakers simply lightened up and had a lot more fun pulling from this franchise now that they knew people were going to dump millions of dollars in their pockets no matter what they did. The whole plot, flimsy as it is, involves an evil brain from Dimension X who’s using Shredder to help build a massive teleporter that will allow Kraang to bring the Technodrome through and conquer the earth.

Yes. The actual Technodrome, with that big eye on the top and everything.

Shredder gets busted out of prison, and a doofy pair of convicts riding in his van come along for the ride. They also get doused with the mutagen to make them a giant warthog and rhino, which is as purely ridiculous as anything else this franchise came up with. I was only bummed that Baxter never mutated into a half-man, half-fly.

For the most part, this entire movie is an extended chase scene with the four turtles using their different weapons and talents to try to thwart this plan. I’m going to sit on the fence as to whether or not I like this version of the brothers. At times they’re pretty good and their personalities shine through, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that much of the time felt like CGI run amok. The movie’s also so focused on nonstop action sequences that nobody has any time to develop as people, so I left the movie just as emotionally invested in the turtles as I did when I first saw them.

It’s decent, but the best thing you can say about it is that Out of the Shadows is entertaining in a switch-your-brain-off kind of way. That’s the Michael Bay effect. It cost a huge amount of money to make, so much that a quarter-billion box office wasn’t enough for the suits to deem this a success, so I guess they’re going back to the drawing board as they continue to reboot this franchise into oblivion.

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