Thursday, 16 June 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Imagine me in 1991, 5 years old, watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Shredder has managed to get the same ooze that created the titular turtles, and is about to use it to create two mutant underlings.
"I'm going to see Rocksteady and Bebop in a film!" I probably thought, excitedly.
He uses the ooze, and everyone in the cinema is greeted by Count Duckula, and Man-bear-pig.



Fast forward just under 25 years. I'm going to turn 30 very shortly, and I am sitting in the cinema again, seeing Bebop and Rocksteady on the big screen, and having my seat intermittently kicked by some little shit young child who evidently has no manners.

Dreams do come true, but they're never perfect, and often quite late. Much like getting Lego Sonic the Hedgehog.

I think I should specify some important context:
I do not care for Michael Bay. At all.
I remember enjoying The Rock, but I wouldn't say it's memorable.
I think I've seen Bad Boys 1 & 2, but I don't remember them.
I have seen all of the Transformers film, and despised all of them. In fact, when I saw the fourth (which was the second one I saw) I sincerely spent the last hour of the film praying for the sweet release of death.

However, I have greatly enjoyed both of the recent Turtles films. This is probably due to Bay only being a producer, and not actually being in a particularly influential role.

Special Effects

Once again, this is an effects heavy film. For the most part it is passable - not great, but because it's constantly there it's not jarring and doesn't take you out of the film. However, there is one particular section in a river, and I swear, the effects were unbelievably good!
It's odd, most of the time wet textures are what ruins good effects or graphics, where everything, no matter what the texture is meant to be physically like, looks like it's covered in slime.
Not so, here. Honestly, it almost looked as if the Turtles were animatronic puppets like in the originals.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox reprises her role as April O'Neil, once again looking and acting far more human than in the Transformers films. She isn't just a damsel in distress, but takes an active role in events (but sometimes it doesn't work out so well).
There is a short (and early) section shown in the trailers where she dresses in a schoolgirl outfit, and the camera lingers. However, contextually, though obviously still for the male gaze, it doesn't seem anywhere as exploitative as you'd expect from a Bay film (it's in fact a distraction for the purposes of espionage).
For the rest of the film no such thing happens, so it at least gets it out of the way early.

Camera Work

The camera work in the film is actually really good - the action scenes don't shake the camera too much, so the action is easy to follow.
At the end, when the film is reaching the climax, the dutch angles come out. Dutch angles are when you tilt the camera to indicate that something is horribly wrong, but they only work when contrasted with normal shots (hence why Battlefield Earth is both terrible and amateurish).
I noticed it, and felt impressed. The director uses his tool-set correctly.

Casey Jones

Casey Jones is played by the guy from Arrow, as the audience was loudly reminded by the shitling young person sitting behind me. I honestly can't remember how Jones was in the cartoon, but I do remember him in the first film. There is a definite contrast here, as the character is less of a charming badass.
Shortly after he is introduced, he points out a plot-hole with the events that are happening, which is somewhat appreciated - if the film didn't point out "this is stupid, but necessary for this scene to work" it could be used as a criticism against it.

Will Arnett

Will Arnett proves once again to be really good comic foil. He might be type-cast, but he's brilliant at it.

Bebop and Rocksteady

Yes, Bebop and Rocksteady are here! Yes, they are annoying, but being incompetent comic sidekicks that's kind of the point. Bebop is played by Gary Anthony Williams (who I recognise but I'm not sure what from) and Rocksteady is played by Seamus "The Great White Shark" from WWE.
Though Rocksteady having a strong Irish accent is different from the cartoon, it doesn't feel out of place (except for one scene where he says "Whoops, my bad" - I'm not sure why. Maybe the lips didn't quite match)
Overall I think they were done well.

Throught the film, the liquid that can transform things (like the Turtles into humans or Bebopy and Rocksteady into a warthog and rinocerous) is referred to as "Ooze" - from this it seems fairly evident that the film makers were very aware of the second original film (and the disappointment that arose from it) and so were trying to, not make up for it, but make sure that they didn't repeat the same mistakes.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry plays Baxter Stockman, who is probably going to get mutated into a fly in the next film. The only reason I bring this up at all is that I watched someone's review where they mentioned him as a negative.
I hate him donning a fat-suit and being an unfunny racist stereotype as much as the next man, but let's be fair - Gone Girl proved that he is in fact a really good actor.
Here he does a perfectly fine job.

Conclusion

All in all, though this wasn't a particularly good cinema going experience for me, it was a genuinely entertaining film that basically felt like the cartoon had come to life.

One terrapin out of a mongoose.

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