Comic Book

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Year: 2016
Directed By: Dave Green
Written By: Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec. Based on characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK OK OK, I may have stood next to the first film on the pretext that the good outweighed the bad but the scales are tipped differently in this one. There is still the same old good in the Turtles and their great character development but they are not enough to overcome the bad this time around. The bad isn’t just bad in this one but it skips right over into the ugly zone. I think ultimately they made some seriously poor decisions in some places and they tried to cram way too much into the film. I would give this franchise another go if they were to make a third film but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen after this debacle.

To start with what I like, I continue to love the turtles. This movie is worth watching multiple times if for no other reason than them. There is so much going on in the background when all the turtles are on screen and they are really really funny. They each bring their own personalities to each character and I think they hit another home run a second time around, but only where the turtles are concerned. I actually really enjoyed the inclusion of Bebop and Rocksteady. Childhood favorites finally hitting the big screen was a lot of fun for me and I didn’t mind how stupid they were. Yeah they were really stupid, but if nobody remembers correctly that’s exactly how they were supposed to be. When I was a 5 year old kid watching blocks of turtle episodes every weekend I remember that these two were always the morons that screwed everything up for the Shredder. I think in this movie they looked really good and they were as stupid as they were supposed to be.

It’s hard to go on any further with what I liked about this movie because there was so much dragging it down. Specifically Stephen Amell as Casey Jones was just flat out awful. I don’t know this guy because I have never seen Arrow, but I have heard plenty of people say good things about the show. Now, either they are all completely out of their mind or maybe he was intimidated by Megan Fox’s hotness on set I don’t know. If his performance in this movie is any indication of what the show is like I definitely won’t be watching it. When he and Fox are together on screen it is at its worse. Why did they give so much screen time to these two? I can handle Megan Fox sucking all the fun out of the screen but when they are paired together I can’t help but feel embarrassed. Embarrassed for them, everyone involved, and even myself for spending my time in this manner.

Not only was Stephen Amell really bad performing the part but the part was just completely stupid. Casey Jones is supposed to be a vigilante and sports enthusiast. Not an airheaded cop with an affinity for hockey. The strapping of the wheels onto his feet so he could skate was even lamer than his hockey stick shenanigans earlier in the film. Elias Koteas was so much better in the part, and I didn’t think he really set the bar that high.

In the first film Megan Fox was paired mostly with Will Arnett and he was able to keep things cool. In this movie she doesn’t have the luxury of a really funny and awesome wingman and she suffers for it. It’s like she has no self respect in that scene where she goes “undercover” as a sexy school girl. So shameful Megan Fox, you’ve lowered yourself to being nothing more than eye candy. I happen to like Megan Fox as eye candy but when you overdo it it just isn’t tasteful. It’s like the second Transformers movie when we see her for the first time and she’s ridiculously draped across a motorcycle painting it. It just isn’t even practical and it’s overkill.

I like the way Krang looked well enough and I thought it was really cool to see the Tecnodrone develop above New York City. The inclusion of Krang also brought the movie down though. The movie had already introduced two new villains and a new ally they didn’t need to go all out and bring in another supervillain. The Shredder is supposed to be a lackey of Krang but in this movie he didn’t have enough to do. If they had been smarter they would have climaxed with something different and let Krang lead into a third end all be all film.

Sadly it doesn’t seem like this franchise will be strong enough to overcome this disappointing second step. There has been little to no talk of a third film and the franchise has more or less been pronounced dead. I find that really disappointing because I still liked so much of what they did with this poorly received rendition.  You never know what will happen so there is always hope, but I’d hate to see it simply rebooted another ten years down the road when I’m definitely too old to be getting into the turtles.

So as I close the chapter on the ninja turtles portion of our collection I will leave it by admitting that this last turtles movie was crap. Truthfully this movie probably never would have authentically made it into the collection this day in age. I received it as a gift and decided that it was a good idea to own all the turtles movies and got myself a copy of the first one too. I really enjoy watching the first film but this one is only fun here and there. If you’re a fan then I think this movie is worth your time, and try not to be too harsh on it, but if you never got into the turtles to begin with this movie is going to do nothing to win you over.

NEXT MOVIE: Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006) 

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Year: 2014
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman
Written By: Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, and Evan Daugherty. Based on characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

RYAN’S REVIEW

Some movies you just can’t take too seriously or you miss out on all the fun. Yeah there is plenty that could be criticized in this movie but who goes to see the heroes in a half shell expecting an award winner? Maybe I am still a sucker for the turtles after all these years but I can’t help but have a good time whenever I watch this movie. I have gone into it trying to be critical but still find myself overwhelmed by something I seriously enjoy. Plenty of people had problems with this new incantation of the ninja turtles but I feel like they’re just trying to take it too seriously.

People really love to hate on Michael Bay and I agree with those haters on most of what they say. Nevertheless I think when Bay does something good people are too determined to hate on him to appreciate it. At the very least give the guy credit for bringing the turtles back to the big screen. The franchise was so dead that the first installment in eleven years was animated, until this came out. This may not have made everybody happy but I think they are simply too critical of it because Bay was involved as a Producer.

I think there are plenty of things to criticize in this movie, but not enough to overshadow the things that I like about it. I think the shredder was too over the top. Why cast a cool looking actor to play the part then overwhelm him as a mutant Edward Scissorhands? He would have been much cooler had he had a more traditional costume and just manhandled the Turtles because he was that badass. I don’t understand what they were going for with the Shredder in this movie but that’s a criticism I have no counterpoint for in an argument.

Another criticism I simply can’t argue with is the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neil. I don’t mind her personally because a movie like this only benefits from a bit of eye candy but I get it. It’s totally ridiculous and along with Michael Bay, she has manage to ruin another beloved franchise from the 80s. What I wonder these days is how long it is going to be before we hear what Megan Fox had to do to get back into the good graces of Michael Bay. I imagine it was something so dirty that she won’t even come public about it. After bad mouthing him and losing her job in the Transformers franchise there had to be something inappropriate going on to explain her presence here.

The last of the criticisms I’ll give credence to is simply Splinter. What a God awful work of CGI animation that thing was. I almost find him too repulsive to look at in this film and it is the main point where the original trilogy was better. All the CGI in the world couldn’t overcome what Jim Henson studios did back in the nineties. Nineties Splinter wasn’t repulsive at all, but more like a dear old grandpa rodent you’d want to take home and feed soup to. Maybe he’d teach you a bit of ninja shit after you fed him. In this film he really kicks some ass but he looks so disgusting that I can’t bear to keep my eyes on it.

Now, where I think this movie succeeds, and succeeds well enough to overcome any and all flaws is the Turtles themselves. I really love the distinct personalities they each have and how they flow into all the dialogue between them. They are exciting to watch in action and funny when they start talking. I love the immaturity that comes from them as they are actual teenagers with all the hormone madness that goes along with youth. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they are riding the elevator and start beat boxing with their weapons. Hilarious. I think the CGI work on them was a bit weird at first but the more I get used to it the more I like it. They don’t look so uniform in this movie, with each not only having different body styles but so much personal gear that enhances their personas.

I think another big win in this movie was the casting of Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick. Arnett is a really funny guy and brings a lot to a film like this. The character of Fenwick has never been brought into the movies before and I like that they made room for him in the script. It’s hard for Arnett not to steal nearly every scene he is in playing opposite Megan Fox. So many of us remember him lovingly as “the MAGICIAN!!!!…….Gob” from Arrested Development. I for one can’t help but laugh involuntarily every time I hear the Final Countdown by Europe. You know what? Here you go, for old time’s sake:

Probably could have found a better video but this was the first one I came to and it serves the purpose. I freaking love that guy and him simply being part of this movie makes me like it all that much more.

This movie is far from perfect, but anybody demanding perfection from this movie has gone into it with the wrong attitude. The ninja turtles were never perfect, and our memories of them are a product of the age we were when we were introduced to them. Could this movie have been better? Absolutely, but was it good enough? I think so and I can honestly say I enjoy it every time I sit down to watch it. At the end of the day that is all that really matters. So I absolutely think this movie is worth your time, just not worth your criticism because there’s no need to take some things so seriously.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)

TMNT

Year: 2007
Directed By: Kevin Munroe
Written By: Kevin Munroe, based on characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was the next movie up but sadly we won’t be able to review it. Under circumstances I find both disappointing and fulfilling the DVD has been lost. My kids have gotten into the turtles enough to have asked to see this movie and I let them take it off the shelf only to be lost in the madness kids create. There’s a playroom that they have run through like tornadoes, a playroom they will one way or another they be cleaning themselves…… They clean on child time and there is no telling when and if the DVD will be recovered in the effort. Meanwhile I want to go ahead and move along in these reviews.

I hate to admit it but I don’t really remember enough about this ten year old movie to know what I liked about it or saw in it that made me purchase it. I have always been a sucker for the turtles and I imagine there was something here that caught my attention. There had to be something because I can’t imagine why I would have added an animated film otherwise.

I might have thought it was an interesting bridge between the two live action franchises and would have been interested in rediscovering what prompted me to buy it. Nevertheless I won’t have the opportunity anytime soon and doubt I will make the effort to go back and do this one again. We are in the Turtle zone of the collection and once we pass it we’re heading straight on to Terminators, Thors, and all the T’s in between and thereafter.

If this movie is worth the time to come back to then by all means someone let me know and I’ll come back to it. Otherwise this one will have to be at your discretion to watch.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Year: 1993
Directed By: Stuart Gillard
Written By: Stuart Gillard, based of characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let’s be honest here, if twice within a year was too much time to invest in Secret of the Ooze then twice in a lifetime is too much for this movie. I haven’t watched it and even skimming over the synopsis of the film seemed like I was over doing it.

Who thought this was a good idea? Even as a little kid I thought this was just ridiculous when it came out and I’m not going to venture into it again to get an adult impression. I remember it from when I was a kid. I’d moved on to X-Men by then and too cool for the Turtles but I still secretly looked forward to it. I didn’t expect much as the movie was obviously full blown shenanigans and I could recognize that even at 9 years old. It was a disappointing experience and probably my first in a derailed franchise that killed itself.

I would go on in time to see many franchises self destruct, some even rise from the ashes like a phoenix to get back on top, but this was definitely the first franchise I saw cave in on itself. Immediate examples that come to mind are Aliens, X-Men, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Terminator, ya know I didn’t think the list would just keep going like that but there have been so many I had to stop myself. X-men would be the phoenix that rose from the ashes of The Last Stand and into the glory that was Days of Future Past. Most franchises fail over time and it’s usually the third movie that takes the nose dive. This movie took a nose dive and hit the ground with a splat.

I’m sure I could watch this movie and come out of it with many interesting thoughts and points of view but I’m eager to start Halloween season. If there exists a time for time traveling turtles then I might find it one day but it isn’t now and and isn’t anytime soon. It’s time for ghosts and ghouls and I’ll close this out simply by saying it probably isn’t worth your time under any circumstance. I didn’t deem it worth mine even for a review.

NEXT MOVIE: TMNT (2007)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Year: 1991
Directed By: Michael Pressman
Written By: Todd W. Langen, based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK full disclosure here, I haven’t watched this movie in order to review it. Oddly enough I found myself watching it with my kids sometime within the last six months and I think that gave me a good enough impression to go with. I’m like a freaking adult now, can’t be having two sittings of this movie within six months of one another. That would just be silly.

I distinctly remember this film coming to theaters, I was 7 at the time. There was a contest for coloring a picture of the turtles to get free tickets to the film. I specifically remember how much effort I put into it, not only the easy part of getting all the colors correct but also shading with crayons in a way that could rival my abilities as an adult. I put all the effort capable of a seven year old into that drawing and I was so proud to turn it in. When I got the call that my coloring had been selected I lost my shit. I felt like I had won because I was somehow a superior Turtles fan. I had poured my heart into something, probably for the first time in my life, and I had succeeded at it. Low and behold I realized years later that my dad was the manager of the theater that promoted the competition. A coincidence that can’t be overlooked as one reflects on life experiences.

That charming memory aside I loved this movie through and through when it came out and I saw it in the theater. I thought it far exceeded the original film and captured the humor that the turtles were capable of. Plus there were other mutants in this one! I have always been a fan of Toka and Raza, the capabilities of Jim Henson Creature Shop can never easily be overlooked. These guys were no Bebop and Rocksteady but they upped the ante for the turtles nonetheless.

Yet as I have gotten older I find myself revisiting this film now and again. I find that with each viewing I see more and more childish shenanigans. Things I started out blind to because of my childhood love suddenly started to come into focus. The ninja turtles don’t even really fight in this one. In fact they’re the motherfucking Harlem Globetrotters of combat! How can I knock this guy down without using any actual violence? Hmmmm we’re gonna need more props and gags.

The thing is I no longer know what to think about this movie. I watch this movie now and I want to sit here and tell you it’s garbage. Nothing but juvenile nonsense and it isn’t worth your time. However I have to consider the memories that come flooding back. I absolutely loved this movie when it came out and ignored all flaws for years following. Maybe this is a great movie because it captured me as part of the obvious target audience. Maybe what I think about it now fails in comparison to the magic I saw as a seven year old.

If nothing else this movie continued the turtle story line and deepened their characters. That can’t be said for the third in the franchise. I don’t think this movie was worth my time to sit down and watch again within a certain time frame. Upon deep consideration I would say that it is most definitely worth the time of your preteen child. Even though it is silly I think there is still plenty to like about the film for any Ninja Turtles fan.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Year: 1990
Directed By: Michael Pressman
Written By: Todd W Langen, based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

RYAN’S REVIEW

Like any normal boy in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan. Those adolescent adjective experimenters were what I lived for. I spent my mornings watching the cartoons and my afternoons reenacting what I saw with my action figures. So in my youth and as a budding movie fan this was a movie I spent a lot of time with. I think it holds up well too after so many other attempts to capitalize on the property. I was raised on this movie and that makes me biased but I would stand by the statement that they have’t been able to match this in 27 years.

This movie is dark and gritty whereas all of the other incarnations are more light hearted and family friendly. In this movie you see the turtles face real danger, there are consequences to their actions, and occasionally they’re going to use mild colorful language. I love that it features kids turning to crime and smoking and stuff. Not because any of that is cool, it isn’t, but simply because it isn’t the kind of thing you would see done so casually in a movie these days.

The tone set by this film didn’t carry on to the sequels and that’s a shame. I think this was a success but the studios wanted something more family friendly thus we ended up with the silly sequels featuring Vanilla Ice and time travel. For this to be the starting point of the franchise I think the execs making the decisions should have considered that their audience was getting older as opposed to younger. When you go from gritty to silly you are only going to disappoint your audience.

I have become a grown up myself in the 27 years since this movie came out and I find that not only do I still enjoy it, but I’m still a sucker for anything Turtles. I have coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, and even a Leonardo action figure sitting on my desk at work. It’s Leo because he was the leader and all the figures that adorn my desk represent some form of leadership. He stands in attack mode next to a Negan sitting on a replica Iron Throne and holding Lucille. They sit below a large picture of Tony Soprano. In that I have Leo as a leader, Negan as a tyrant, and Tony as a boss. Nobody ever puts two and two together or even recognizes that it’s Negan (because it’s a comic toy, not a Jeffrey Dean Morgan PG version of the character) but that’s not the point. They stand in representation for me and I enjoy them.

Leonardo isn’t just any leader but an honorable and just one. He is the one his other brothers look to not only for leadership but for guidance and counsel. When my daughter brought me the action figure as a present one day I couldn’t help but make him a place on my desk where he fit right in with the theme of what was already established.

Despite all the snazzy things they are able to do in the newer films I still hold this one up as the best the any Ninja Turtle movie has to offer. It’s a raw and real movie about the Turtles that utilized animatronics rather than CGI. In this movie they did it the old fashion way, with the legendary Jim Henson company providing the special effects. I actually like the new films but these simpler turtles are still the ones that hold my heart.

I think this movie is worth the time of any Ninja Turtles fan but I think it can reach a wider audience than that. I can’t say this is a movie I have been asked about or spoken to anyone about in more than 20 years but I loved it as a kid and I still enjoy it today. I can’t say they were able to keep my support over the years with subpar sequels but this movie stands on its own two feet.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Superman II

Year: 1980
Directed By: Richard Lester
Written By: Mario Puzo, David Newman, and Leslie Newman. Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel (characters created by)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now this is a Superman I can at least get into a little more. There are real bad guys for Superman to fight this time around. Not to take anything away from Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in the first film but he isn’t necessarily going to come to fisticuffs with Superman is he? In this movie we have the villains initially set up with the first film. It’s a sequel so tied into the first film that it recounts it during the credits. I like that because in the future, should I ever watch these movies again, I can just skip the first film and catch the recap here.

I am an interested spectator in the conflict that was the Cold War. Let me just say I like seeing this movie where it’s firmly at rest. That’s obvious from Zod’s crony carrying both the U.S. and Russian flag after they crash the party on the moon.

Did I say this was a Superman film I could get into more? I’m not so sure anymore. I added these movies to the collection about 15 years ago, rescued them in fact from a shelf where they would only collect dust. I originally had all four of the Superman films but eventually ditched the last two because I straight up didn’t like them. Having watched these two first movies now I find myself wondering what it was I saw in them.

I hate the scenario where a super hero quits being the super hero and or loses his powers. The whole world is falling to it’s knees in the face of a trio of Kryptonians and Superman is ditching his powers to get in bed with a woman like a horny boy going through puberty. Rash decision much Superman? I like that the first thing he does afterwards is try to pick a fight with a trucker. It backs up my prior argument that Superman is a chump because with out his powers anyone can pretty much beat him up. It was all a waste as Superman runs right back to his fortress of solitude to get his powers back. So Superman is like a horny teenager who will do anything to get some but then realizes he made a huge mistake.

I think Terrance Stamp is great as General Zod. The villains are about the coolest part of this movie. Ursa is a cool villain with the taste of blood in her mouth. She feels all these powers and really gets off on them. I specifically like how she collects badges and pins them on her uniform. She is the scariest of the three because she is the most unpredictable. Zod carries himself like the badass but he is more patient and reserved than Ursa. The muscle is Non who apparently doesn’t have the ability to talk, or think very much for that matter. He may be the muscle of the trio but he’s the weakest of the bunch.

These guys are at their best when they are destroying towns and taking over the White House. Once the fighting with Superman begins it’s pretty lame and disappointing. In fact the scene actually put me to sleep and I only caught bits and pieces of the rest of the film. I remember that Superman tricks them in the end to depower them with red rays from the Kryptonian sun. Weak, I don’t think I missed anything nodding off in this one and I don’t think I’ll be diving back into it again.

I really don’t think I like Christopher Reeve as Superman and I really can’t stand him as the bumbling buffoon Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne would never try to pass himself off as an idiot or fool to keep people guessing #Batmanisbetter. I know it’s a horrible thing to say because Christopher Reeve was a real life hero but I just don’t think he was very good. He looks the part in the whole Superman get up but I don’t think he has the acting skills to blow anybody away.

This movie is not better than the first film and if I’m being honest I don’t really think the first film was that great. It was a terrific achievement and it set the bar for plenty to come but I just don’t care for it. I think Terrance Stamp and Gene Hackman carry this movie as far as it will go. Hackman has the benefit of playing the part this time around without Ned Beatty hanging around as an over the top idiot.

I can’t say with a straight face that these movies aren’t worth your time. I think they need to be seen as an important part of film history but I don’t think they are all that likable. I think they served to carve the path that would branch out into a network of films that have followed. The genre has grown to greater proportions now and I don’t think that these movies stand the test of time.

I don’t own the third or fourth sequels in this series and I don’t own the attempt to start a new series with Superman Returns. I have strong feelings about that one that I have written about before. It lured Bryan Singer away from the much cooler X-Men franchise for a crappy version of a lame superhero. I do think Man of Steel was a really cool movie. I think it was much better than people give it credit for. It’s hard to make a good Superman movie because Superman sucks, but I think Man of Steel did a very good job at it. I liked Henry Cavill’s performance in Batman vs. Superman as well. I thought that movie kind of sucked but not because of the performances of Cavill and Affleck.

So this is it, I’m not seeking out the other Superman movies and I won’t be writing about him again. I did my time riding a sinking ship when I did the entire Star Trek franchise. If you’re a big Superman fan I apologize. Feel free to present your arguments and I’ll entertain the discussion. I guess I’m just more of a Batman guy, to the extent that I’m a DC guy at all. I’m interested in it and I think it’s got some great stuff out there but in my heart I’ll always be a Marvel fan.

Check out the first film and watch this one because they directly tie together. Do it because you should. There is plenty to appreciate if not like in these two movies. I think I have sufficiently rambled on about this movie long enough. If anybody out there wants to make a case for the third or fourth film in this series by all means let me know.

NEXT MOVIE: Suspect Zero (2004)