Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 & Random Storytelling
I’m a lifelong fan of the original Ninja Turtles cartoon and the live action movies released in the 90s. I’m being specific because, as I grew older, I lost track of all the different iterations of turtle power. When Michael Bay stepped up to produce a live action/CG reboot of the franchise I had my doubts. Those doubts were ‘somewhat’ confirmed when the film released. The film was essentially set up as an April O’Neil origin story which also featured four turtles. She even named them in case we didn’t fully understand her connection to the mutant brothers.
Still, when the turtles were on screen together without pesky humans, the movie was fun. It was those moments that fuel the sequel: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. The follow up is basically a feature length, live action version of the cartoon I loved as a child. Except I’m not a child anymore…
On paper, TMNTOOTS could have been the greatest Ninja Turtles movie of all time. It has more turtles, The Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Casey Jones, Baxter, Krang, The Technodrome and the visual effects budget to pull it off. Every element, I’ve always wanted in a TMNT movie. But I’m all grown up now and I’m obsessed with movies, storytelling and character. So while I understand this movie is intended to be a goofy live action cartoon, I couldn’t help but groan throughout.
This week on Random Storytelling In Point Form:
– “I’m going to make detective someday!” (Casey Jones) Even if this movie is targeted at kids the exposition is ridiculous. What happened to Pain 101? Casey Jones is NOT a cry baby or a loser. He’s a tough bad ass! I’m okay with the casting but we are constantly reminded that Casey is a tough badass with anger issues… I’ve seen the movie and I’m still waiting to see that character on screen.
– Tada! Krang! So Baxter sends soldiers to break Shredder out of prison. Thankfully they have random teleportation devices that send the hardened criminal to another dimension? Let’s pretend I’m okay with that. He pops up three feet away from Krang and somehow Krang knows exactly who it is and what’s happening on Earth. How did Krang know he was teleporting to that specific location at that exact time? Baxter uses the teleporter as a last resort when the Foot fails to extract Shredder.
-Here’s my plan Shredder now… Become useless! Within two minutes, Krang demands that Shredder unite three pieces of technology so the Technodrome can teleport to Earth and destroy everything. That’s okay with Shredder as long as Krang destroys the turtles too.
– Donny the psychic. This movie has way too many convenient plot points to ignore. It feels like every time the writers got into a jam, they just gave Donny a random piece of technology to fix the issue. How do the turtles track Bebop and Rocksteady to Brazil? Simple. Donny can use his computer to track… Ooze… residue? Good. Perfect. That explains it. Hey! How will they learn about the giant alien war machine assembling in the sky? Simple. Donny can just use his PC skills to hack the alien ship and discover its weakness. He even has a program to discover Krang’s name!
Those are a few examples of strange coincidences and scenes used to move the plot forward without earning it. It’s frustrating. Shredder is basically reduced to the role of henchmen and never actually faces the turtles at all. Why couldn’t Shredder create Bebop and Rocksteady and come up with a plan for revenge on the turtles? You can plant seeds for Krang’s big entrance and save it for the third film. The story would have been simplified a great deal and Shredder wouldn’t have been wasted.
Unfortunately, Shredder could be completely removed from this story and it wouldn’t matter. Thankfully, Bebop and Rocksteady are absolutely perfect representations of their cartoon counterparts. Every time they are on screen the movie’s momentum picks up.
I wish the duo factored more into the story. Their air born tank battle against the turtles was awesome and full of delightfully corny lines. Sadly, they have to battle captain roller blade in the final act but they’ll be back in the third film. (If there is a third film)
At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I was disappointed the filmmakers didn’t use more restraint. But all they did was give us exactly what we wanted. They gave us all the characters we wanted in one film and made it work. (With a few shortcuts in the writer’s room of course.) Yet here I am, wishing they saved Krang for another film.
In the end, there are a ton of classic turtle moments and the brothers feel like a family. Their interactions are spot on and I loved watching them laugh and fight together. Make no mistake, Out of the Shadows is a far superior film than the reboot but it still falls short for me. This is the film I wanted to see as a 10 year old but it’s over 20 years too late.