There's a cinematic crime being perpetrated on the population right now, and it's called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. There are dozens upon dozens of problems with this film and Brandy and I are going to hash them out in a spoiler-filled battle. Let's start with this chestnut...
Why is Mikey quoting Scarface and Taxi Driver?
STEVE: I have a real problem with this. During the Shredder extraction chase, Mikey says, "Say hello to my little friend!" while operating the arms on the garbage truck. Later while relaxing at the lair, he starts doing the, "You talkin' to me?" bit from Taxi Driver. I have so many issues with this one: When and how is he watching these movies? Who is this joke for? Did anyone laugh at this at any point in time? Why is he quoting two of the most violent motion pictures of all time in this movie that's ostensibly for little children? Writers and improv crazy actors, here's a tip... We're all done with these two quotes. They don't need to turn up in another movie for as long as I live. If you just can't resist the urge to do a "say hello to my little friend" joke, kindly remember that this line has been referenced in close to 600 movies and TV shows since 1983. We can put this fucking thing to bed! Am I overreacting Brandy? Do these jokes belong in this movie?'
BRANDY: To be fair, I think maybe that was a ham-fisted attempt at a callback to the original TMNT, when Mikey does impressions of Rocky Balboa and Jimmy Cagney. I think their heart was in the right place, but yeah, it did seem like someone's granddad trying to be hip. But I don't care, because...
They Completely Captured The Spirit Of The Turtles Themselves (From the 90s Cartoon)
BRANDY: The last TMNT didn't know what it wanted to be. Realistic? Cartoony? Fun? Dark? It seemed like an odd mishmash of Michael Bay throwing literally everything at the wall and hoping it sticks. This film was *fun*. The Turtles were like big kids, with tons of fun, juvenile humor, and Rocksteady and Bebop were exactly what I hoped. When I go see a movie about mutated anthropomorphic adolescent sewer-dwelling reptiles doing martial arts, I'm not looking for Oscar material. I want a big, dumb, fun, light movie, and that's what I got with this one. Is it groundbreaking? Nope. Is it stupid? Absolutely. It's basically a Pauly Shore movie made for this generation with CGI ninja monsters, but I'm kind of onboard with that. I felt like the sequel found their footing with the Turtles in this film—and Bebop and Rocksteady really stole the film for me. Steve?
STEVE: Jesus, where to begin? Yeah, they captured the spirit of the original cartoon, which was garbage. It's like Karl Urban doing that killer impression of terrible actor DeForest Kelly in the Star Trek movies: It makes me happy that they care, but they're sacrificing anything new by being slavishly faithful to what came before. But I digress... Here's something we really need to talk about.
Who in Their Right Mind Thought Tyler Perry was the Right Choice for this Film?
STEVE: Following his surprisingly great supporting turn in Gone Girl, I was actually willing to give Tyler Perry a shot. Then he shows up in this film like he's in Ninja Turtles on Ice, pitching his performance for a stage show rather than a movie. Every time he said "Sensei Shredder" I got the ickies all up and down my spine. The dude loves playing cartoons come to life, but he has no idea how to pitch his performance for the film he's in. Dude would've been more at home in Secret of the Ooze. Clearly the character is there to set up future installments, but those are doubtful now that this one bombed. Could he have redeemed himself in a third Turtles movie? Not likely. Also, whose idea was it to dress up Megan Fox like a schoolgirl to seduce Tyler Perry? You're doing it wrong! Brandy?
BRANDY: I can't defend Tyler Perry. I want to, but I can't. My mother loves those awful Medea movies, so I have PTPSD (post-Tyler Perry Stress Disorder). I didn't have big hopes for Tyler Perry, but someone I DID have big hopes for was Casey Jones. Unfortunately,
Stephen Amell Isn't Given Much To Do
BRANDY: I LOVE Casey Jones, so I was looking forward to Stephen Amell in the series. Don't get me wrong, his character is likable (maybe a bit *too* likable for Casey Jones), and he had some great moments, but overall, he was really one dimensional—even for a TMNT film. In fact, he really just seems like Teenage Mutant Ninja Arrow. Steve?
STEVE: Eh, they gave him fuck all to do and he didn't screw it up, so I'll call it a wash. Elias Koteas is my Casey Jones till I die, so it's hard for me to embrace a new Casey. Couple that with his questionable New Yawk accent and the fact that he's a disgraced cop—just stop already—and I don't even recognize this fucking character anymore.
Why is the Plot Incomprehensibly Stupid?
STEVE: This is likely just a byproduct of being a Michael Bay production, but could you make any fucking sense out of this film's plot? It's nothing but Shredder double crossing everyone in sight, only to get double crossed himself. Bebop and Rocksteady had to go to Brazil to get what again? What the FUCK is happening in this movie? This could also be me getting my old man jeans in a bunch, but I couldn't make head or tail of what anyone was doing. Their feeble attempts to do Sorkin-esque walk and talks were miserable failures, only because I didn't know what the flying fuck was going on at any point in time. Could you make sense of this mess, Brandy?
BRANDY: You expected a *plot* in a Michael Bay produced Ninja Turtles movie? That's ADORABLE. You really expect the best out of humanity, huh? You and your "standards". (STEVE: I classify myself as a frustrated idealist) Speaking of wanting too much out of this film,
What happened to backstory?
BRANDY: I get that origin stories are boring at this point, but we had little to no explanation of characters' motives. I spent about a quarter of the time in the bathroom playing Flappy Bird instead of watching the film, but I get the sense I didn't miss much. We got very little backstory for Krang and nothing updated for Shredder, other than hollow, 2d cartoon villains that just wanted to fuck shit up, for fun, mostly. Cartoon villains are great in cartoons, but it doesn't translate well to film. Am I asking too much, Steve?
STEVE: Ordinarily no, you're not, but after chastising me to expect storytelling fundamentals, you're asking for motivations and feelings? I smell double standard, which leads me to the next, most egregious nit I have to pick with this movie...
Are We Just Not Supposed to Notice That Shredder's a Different Asian Dude?
STEVE: I mean, it's kinda not even close when you look at them side by side. Is this just contempt for the audience or are non-white characters and actors of such little importance to Hollywood that this kind of thing happens on the regular? A little from column A and a lot from column B, I suppose, but even I knew it wasn't the same guy and I could give two shits about the movie. The fact that they don't even address it is bothersome to say the least, and reeks of trying to pull a fast one on the audience. Michael Bay has a real problem with ethnic stereotyping—writing it off as putting in more "personality"—but the dude's got a real problem and needs to be called on the carpet. Sorry, I left you in a tight spot here Brandy, feel free to change the subject.
BRANDY: I am 100% with you here, Steve. This is a movie about talking turtles who do ninjitsu... all they had to say to make the changing of the Asian actor playing Shredder less systemically racist was to make up some MacGuffin story about him switching his consciousness into a new body or something. I find it super insulting that Bay and co expect us not to notice, and it definitely made me feel icky. In fact, this whole movie made me feel icky, including...
The Continued Fetishization Of The Only Girl In The Series
BRANDY: We get it. April O'Neil is a stunner. I happen to agree that Megan Fox is an absolutely gorgeous woman. But, like, can u not, guys? As a woman watching the film, I felt distinctly uncomfortable and really bad for April. I know that she's a fetish for a lot of guys—the second result when I searched April O'Neil was a whole section devoted to the reporter on Pornhub. But this isn't a porn parody (though it could have been), and it's also 2016. Why is her defining character trait "hot thing to drool over"? Ugh, fuck Michael Bay. Steve?
STEVE: Yeah, for me, April O'Neil was always more savvy than sexy, yet you'd never know that if you've only been introduced to the character via Megan Fox. I don't think it's entirely her fault—she has a very narrow range as an actress—but it wasn't like she went to bat over the character or anything, demanding more to do than stand around and be in the right place and the right time in the right sexy outfit. It's incredible to me how much Bay can make these movies feel like he directed them.
Who's Funding Donnie's Tech Budget?
STEVE: Unlimited resources are the achilles heel of every tech heavy movie, but this one had me saying, "How the fuck can you afford all of this tech?" several times. Every time you turned around, Donnie either already had the right gadget for the job or was working on it. WHO IS PAYING FOR ALL OF THIS??? Splinter's opium budget notwithstanding, these turtles seem to be running a billion dollar tech company in the New York City sewers. I'll suspend my disbelief only so far, movie! How about it, Brandy? Is there an explanation for this and I'm just missing it?
BRANDY: There's an explanation, Steve, but you aren't going to like it... Remember when I said that April O'Neil had her own section on pornhub?
Turtle porn. Donnie is doing turtle porn. And on that note, I'm done here.
STEVE: Yeah, not much I can add to that, seems airtight. So how about it, Turtle fans? Did you like this movie? Sound off in the comments section below!