Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows had everything it needed to be a good time at the movies. It has a silly story about the Turtles struggling with their place in society while their arch nemesis Shredder escapes from prison, only to be recruited by Krang, the sentient alien brain that is protected by a robotic suit, in an attempt to rule the world. It also introduces mutant rhinoceros Rocksteady, mutant warthog Bebop. It also had director Dave Green, whose directorial debut was the lovely found-footage Amblin homage Earth to Echo.
And yet, it misses the mark. Green and the writers understand that a story about four mutated turtles with ninja skills needs to be fun and have a certain level of camp, but it can’t escape the fact that it is a Michael Bay production. It has the same over-saturated, lens flare filled, Dutch angle aesthetic that has become a staple of every film he has a hand in making. This particular is meant to add gravitas to the story, but it just doesnlt mesh well with the tone that the script requires. Also, Steve Jablonski’s epic-sized score sticks out in a bad way, particularly when the scene is playing for laughs.
If there is one Bay-ism that I wish the film had adopted was good action. Green and his VFX team’s work in this area is dull and looks exactly like the action in every other summer blockbuster in recent memory. In fact, the scene where the Turtles are fighting Rocksteady and Bebop while going down a river is almost a carbon copy of the scene in the previous film where they are going down a snowy slope.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the performances. Apart from the motion-capture ones, which are genuinely good, most actors look like they would rather be anywhere else. Megan Fox has absolutely nothing to do. Stephen Amell knows that “Casey Jones” is just a less-serious version of the Green Arrow so he just acts as if it’s just another episode of Arrow. Will Arnett seems like someone who is fulfilling a contractual obligation. Laura Linney, one of our finest actresses, deserves better than playing a stern detective and she knows it and is just sleep-walking through the film. The only person that seems to be having fun and trying something different is Tyler Perry as “Dr. Baxter Stockman,” the evil scientist. When Tyler Perry is the only one trying, you know there is something wrong with the film.
Although I wouldn’t recommend it, it’s not offensively bad or anything. It’s the type of film that will be forgotten soon and will only be thought of by someone going through Laura Linney’s IMDb page and will say “Oh, she was in that.”