SATURDAY MORNING MEMORIES

LIKE THE ORIGINAL, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS IS A TRIBUTE TO THE POPULAR CARTOON SHOW OF OUR COLLECTIVE YOUTHS

Director: Dave Green

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Laura Linney, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Gary Anthony Williams, Tony Shalhoub, Brad Garrett and Sheamus.

Rated: PG

Studio: Paramount

Running Time: 1 Hr., 52 Mins.

Can you put a price tag on childhood nostalgia? We may find out this weekend.

Taking place a year after the events of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TMNT Out of The Shadows reveals that our heroes in a half shell remain a complete mystery to the citizens of New York City, even after rescuing the Big Apple from certain destruction at the hands of the Shredder. To keep their existence a secret, the Turtles allowed Vern (Will Arnett) to take credit for foiling Shredder (Brian Tee) and the former cameraman has taken full advantage of his new celebrity, becoming a fixture among the city’s social elite and being awarded the keys to the city. The Turtles self-imposed secrecy meanwhile, is beginning to fray some teenage nerves.

Speaking of Shredder, during his escape from police custody he meets Krang (Brad Garrett), an extra dimensional warlord looking for allies in his conquest of Earth. The two soon strike a pact and the race is on as the Shredder and his allies-which include the genetically mutated Rocksteady (Sheamus) and BeeBop (Gary Anthony Williams)-to retrieve the scattered parts of a portal generator that will allow Krang’s world conquering war machine entry into our dimension. The Turtles skills as well as their bonds as both brothers and teammates are soon put to the test.

Out of the Shadows boasts visual effects that are beyond impressive-the CGI turtles emote better then many real human actors (including Megan Fox)-and director Dave Green does a good job of allowing the Turtles to establish and express their individual personalities (Raphael remains the impulsive hothead while Michelangelo continues to be the fun loving emotional centre of the group). Shadows has no chief villain, relying instead on a rotating cast of bad guys. There’s Shredder of course (but he isn’t quite the imposing presence he was in 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), newcomers Rock Steady and Bee Bop (who provide more visual comedy then on screen action) and Krang, who looks more cartoonish then ever.

And that’s the thing about Out of the Shadows; it’s essentially a live action cartoon aimed at fans of the long running cartoon show. It has plenty of warts; Fox is little more then eye candy as intrepid reporter April O’Neil and there’s zero chemistry between her and obligatory love interest Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). But none of that’s the point and it’s all easily glossed over by the Saturday morning spirit of this movie. Everything about this film, from the pacing to the dialogue to the character development, feels like a love letter to the cartoons of an entire generation’s youth.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are an interesting story of 80s nostalgia. The original cartoon ran for an entire decade and for a brief time could be seen seven days a week. The toy line was red hot and for a while you couldn’t turn around without tripping over something-anything-branded with the TMNT logo and characters. But when the window closed, it closed hard. Yet with all things from the 80s (and 90s), there have been reboots and re-imaginings of the show (with varying degrees of success) and a new comic book series has been gracing store shelves the last few years courtesy of IDW comics (a publisher that has made a fortune publishing nostalgia titles like TMNT, Transformers and G.I. Joe). The Turtles are imbedded into the DNA of an entire generation that now has disposable income to spend (anyone over the age of thirty is going to have the original Turtle carto0n’s jingle playing in their head for days after seeing this movie-and it doesn’t even play once in the entire film). The 2014 film was a pleasant surprise, a nostalgic roller coaster ride for fans of the original cartoon and toy line and Out of the Shadows follows the exact same formula to a T.

The question now is, can an entire generation’s childhood indulgence keep a Hollywood franchise afloat? The first one seemed to suggest it can as it grossed a little over 191 million dollars domestically and pulled in over 493 million world wide. If Shadows can duplicate that success (and early reviews suggest fans are already embracing this more then the original), then we can expect plenty more heroes in a half shell. And as long as they’re fun to watch and inspire fond childhood memories, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Shayne Kempton

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