Trailer Breakdown: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Last night we got the first trailer for the live action sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. It’s got a lot of new characters and elements and possibly even some retconning of stuff that happened in the first. I thought the first film was “okay.” It was not quite the disaster that was predicted, but it definitely had its share of problems. The Turtles’ design, their origin (they learned ninjitsu from a book) and an obviously hastily rewritten/reshot movie to change Shredder from a white guy to a Japanese dude shrouded in shadows. But the action was good, Will Arnett was funny and it moved at a fast clip. I think the sequel looks like it’s made some key improvements. Let’s break it down and see what we can learn about it.

A wormhole opens over NYC

The trailer kicks off on an ominous note with this strange weather formation happening over midtown Manhattan. Ferry passengers look stunned. At first I couldn’t really guess what sort of weapon the bad guys may have that would cause this, but now I wonder if it’s an opening to Dimension X, Krang (or Kraang) and his army? We don’t see Krang but we see some other wild stuff straight from the 80s/90s cartoon, so I think it’s entirely possible.

NY citizens look overhead

We get shots of stunned New Yorkers stopping their cars and staring at the phenomenon in the sky. Good, visual threat. Upping the stakes right off the bat. Building anticipation for the main characters.

We hear a voiceover here. Johnny Knoxville, er… Leonardo says: “What’s happening out there Donnie?”

Laura Linney as an NYC cop

Here’s a shot of a bunch of NYPD looking up into the sky, including Laura Linney. She gets another important shot later in the movie and isn’t in uniform so I’m guessing she could be a police commissioner or something on that level. It’d make sense for someone like that to cross paths with the Turtles, although I can’t think of any prominent police characters from any previous versions of the Ninja Turtles comics, movies or TV shows.

Donatello replies: “I don’t know. It doesn’t look good.”

Aliens invade NY

And now some very strangely shaped machines fly down from above, one smashing a corner of a building. Best guess is it’s coming from that weather above. Although I also suspect this actually could be towards the end of the movie since we don’t see much of this through the rest of the trailer. But those could definitely be Dimension X spaceships. That’s my guess. I suppose they could also be just alien spaceships, like the Triceratons or a version of the Utroms instead of just Krang. It’s just that a lot of the elements in this movie seem to be taken very literally from the first TMNT cartoon.

It occurs to me that the ships flying out of that portal may not be ships but instead pieces of the Technodrome.

Leonardo leads

Leonardo turns from their monitors and shouts: “Gear up guys!” Hey Leo, stop spying on people, you creep. I wonder if one day one of the Turtles will blow the whistle on the other Turtles and their weirdo spying.

Donatello has a shock staff

Gear up the Turtles do! Donatello has added electric cattle prods to his staff! He also appears to have put some neon or LED lights around their lovely sewer lair.

Leonardo gets his sword ready

Leonardo checks his sword to make sure it’s still a sword. It is! We don’t have time to see Michelangelo and Raphael prepare their gear. I bet they do prepare it, though.

Tartuga brothers van

A tarp is yanked off the new ride for the Turtles. It’s a modified dump truck. On the side it says “Tartaruga brothers.” Tartaruga is Italian for Turtles. Har. Hey, do you think we’ll get a scene where they put the tarp back on the truck when they’re done? Or do you think the tarp was just there to help with a dramatic reveal? That’s cynical of me to even consider, I know. Anyway, it’s even got the yellow and green pattern of the original Turtle Van from the cartoon.

Michelangelo enters the van

And inside? It looks like Donatello’s done his usual thing of using parts from whatever electronics he can find at the dump. There are arcade game parts, Christmas lights, novelty seats. Mikey is impressed. I wonder if Donatello is just a hoarder and has glued extra stuff all over the place like some sort of TGI Friday’s that’s gone out of control.

Bikers hijack a truck

We cut to a coordinated pack of motorcyles that sets bombs on cars protecting a truck on a highway. They might be ninjas. But it’s too dark to be sure.

Hijacker cuts into the truck

A specialty hijacker climbs on top of the truck and begins cutting through the roof with an acetylene torch. There’s no markings on either the ninja or truck so I really can’t say what’s going on for sure. Could be the Foot Clan, or it could just be some thieves that the Turtles take out. The hijacker gets distracted by a bright light being shone on him.

Ninja Turtles stop some hijackers

The lights are coming from the Turtle Van. You probably guessed that. As they honk their horn, the rocking rhythm of the classic Run DMC track It’s Tricky begins (and carries through the rest of the trailer). A very fun, upbeat music choice. Donatello calls out: “Bogies on the bus!”

Leonardo can't find the right button

Donatello tells Leonardo: “Hit the button.” But Leo can’t figure out what to do, replying with exasperation: “What button? There’s a million buttons!” Brotherly squabbling is some of my favorite TMNT stuff. It helps highlight their differences. We also get a clear look at the Turtle designs through the last several shots. They may have toned down the noses and lips a little bit from the last movie. I mean, they’re still there but I also realize that each Turtle looks different. Raphael has a tiny set of nostrils and a bit more of a beak. Mikey has the biggest nose and lips and looks like Shrek. But maybe not as bad this time. Or maybe I’m just hoping.

Turtle van shoots manhole covers

Donnie whacks the console and the Van becomes the Pizza Thrower toy. It actually shoots manholes lids, not pizzas. Very toyetic, though! Too bad Lego didn’t hold onto the TMNT license. I would’ve liked to build that.

Manhole cover hits a hijacker

The manhole covers shoot all over the place and one knocks the hijacker off. I like to think there are also New Yorkers all over the city, walking to and from work, reading their texts, falling into uncovered manholes. The Turtles could be causing as many problems as they’re solving.

Ninja Turtles are shocked

The Turtles all go: “Whoa!” when the manholes knock the guy off. I don’t know why. Wouldn’t they be expecting that? It’s probably just a weird edit. By the way, Donatello seems to have installed a suicide handle on the steering wheel but he ain’t using it! Don’t worry, he still has glasses on top of glasses, making sure we know he’s the nerd of the group.

Ninja Turtles body surf the sewers

And here’s the Turtles bodysurfing down a sewer. They’re having a blast but if you think about it, they must really be filthy. Sewers are gross.

Ninja Turtles splash Splinter

And I seriously question their choices for Lair design because it seems that as they arrive, they splash Master Splinter something fierce. Man, I would love it if they retconned how they learned ninjitsu. In the first movie, they said Splinter learned it all from a book he found in the sewer. In the most recent comics by IDW, Splinter and the Turtles are the reincarnated souls of a fuedal Japan era samurai and his sons. That’s a much cooler way for them to know their karates.

Ninja Turtles in daylight

Laura Linney’s character, who may be a police commissioner or something like that, steps up on a NY street and says: “What are you? Superheroes?” The movie seems to feature plenty of the Turtles out in the open during daylight. Not sure how Splinter feels about that. Also, Leonardo isn’t weighed down by as much samurai gear all over him. Each of the Turtles has a different body type. Usually my favorite character is Donatello, but in the live action world, actor Alan Ritchson easily does the best as the most Noo Yawk Turtle, Raphael. What’s Raphael holding there? It isn’t a sai. It’s like a short sword. No idea why.

Raphael and Michelangelo joke around

Here’s the Turtles just sort of joking around in their Lair, being bros. I do think they look fairly real and not fakey CG. Except for a few action shots. But I also suspect the trailer could be assembled based mostly on whatever’s close to finished. I expect the CG to look better once it’s done.

April O'Neil in the Turtle Lair

Raphael begins answering Laura Linney’s question from a shot or two ago: “Just four brothers who hate bullies…” Meanwhile, we get to see a shot of Megan Fox as April O’Neil. I thought she was fine in the role. Nothing new being brought to the character, but not offensively off or anything. But the first movie pretty much made April the main character. She’s a good viewpoint character but the Turtles are the focus. One of them needs to be the lead. A lot of times that ends up being Leonardo. I’d say Raphael was the most prominent in the last movie and that was one of the better choices the movie made.

The Foot attack the police

Now we see a pair of ninjas rush down the halls of a NYPD station. I’m hoping this is the Foot Clan. In the first movie they were just guys in camo with guns. Not very ninja-like at all. These guys have masks with goggle eyes and swords. They also leap and flip. So I really think it’s the Foot.

Foot ninja kicks a cop

In fact, that may be why we see a kick to a cop’s face. The Foot. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but we see these guys again and the Foot is such a big part of the TMNT mythos. I strongly suspect this movie is retconning some of the Shredder/Foot stuff from the first movie.

Ninja Turtles save the cops

Just as it seems the cops are overwhelmed by ninjas, the Turtles burst in. I kinda would love to see them be stealthy at some point, but this is fun, too.

Raphael’s voiceover wraps up: “…and love this city.” That’s a good, straightforward look at who the Turtles are at their core. Young brothers who love their home.

April O'Neil surrounded by Foot Clan

April O’Neil is surrounded by ninjas, probably Foot Clan, and says: “Whoa. Whoa. This never works out well for you.” She has a glowing canister in her hand. Mutagen, perhaps?

Casey Jones arrives

Just as it seems April is in dire peril, help arrives. But it ain’t the Turtles. It’s our first look at Casey Jones. He’s a key supporting character for the Turtles in every version of their story except the original cartoon. He’s never had short hair, but at least he has his hockey mask.

Casey Jones fights the Foot

Casey takes out at least four ninjas with some fancy fighting moves and also some well aimed hockey pucks. It’s over-the-top that he could shoot a puck down a full alleyway and knock someone out but it’s fun and fits in the heightened reality of these movies. I’m glad they held him off, because as important as he is, they had the four Turtles, Splinter and April that HAD to be in the first one. That’s a lot of characters right off the bat.

Stephen Amell is Casey Jones

April asks: “What’s your name?” and Casey replies: “Casey Jones.” April goes all melty and breathes out: “Hey…” It’s Arrow star Stephen Amell so I pop, like, 12 boners. I just realized, with Stephen Amell and Alan Ritchson in this as Casey and Raphael, that’s also two stars from the little-seen sitcom Blue Mountain State reuniting. Amell played the QB in the first season and Ritchson made his name on the show as Thad.

A sai lands near Casey Jones' head

Just as these two get close (and they’re a serious item in each version of TMNT except that original cartoon that barely used Casey) a sai just barely misses Casey’s head and embeds itself in a signpost. But it’s a sai, so it’s not more evil ninja. It’s the Turtles.

Michelangelo talks to Casey and April

Michelangelo leaps in and starts all serious: “One question!” but then softens: “Are you guys, like, a thing?” Whee, the full team is assembled.

Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman

Now we get our first shots of the bad guys. First up is Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman. Now, I can’t watch any of his Madea stuff, but Perry was really good as a lawyer in the movie Gone Girl. So the guy can act. And he really looks the part of Baxter, a mad scientist from the original comics. In fact, he was the second enemy they went up against after the Shredder. Glasses, bowtie. He’s taken right from the comics pages in terms of his look. In the original comics, April wasn’t a reporter but a lab assistant to Baxter and that’s how she got involved with the Turtles. In the movies, April is a news reporter like the original cartoon but her father was a scientist who helped create the mutagen that made the Ninja Turtles. Maybe Stockman will have worked with him as well?

Shredder threatens Rocksteady

Brian Tee appears to be the Shredder. Yeah, we had a Shredder in the last movie but really didn’t get to know him and he clearly died. So maybe he was just a front-man and this is the real deal? He pops his knives as he says to Rocksteady (WWE wrestler Sheamus): “I’m looking for errand boys.”

Bebop talks to Shredder

Voice actor Gary A. Williams plays Bebop. He responds to Shredder: “We can work with that.”

Baxter Stockman joins Shrededer

The scene is edited to imply Baxter Stockman is replying as well when he says: “Me too.” But it’s obviously not in the bar, but a lab. Still, the implication is that Shredder recruits Stockman as well, which seems likely.

Brian Tee as the Shredder

Here’s another shot of Shredder (I’m assuming) and actress Brittany Ishibashi. She’s been in shows like Felicity and Supernatural in the past. Could she be a new Karai? Depending on the version of TMNT, Karai has been Shredder’s daughter, granddaughter or adopted daughter. Always his right-hand person.

Baxter Stockman at TCRI

Baxter shouts out with glee: “This is gonna be good!” and slaps a button in the lab. The lab is TCRI which in the original comics was the lab that created the lab that in turn created Splinter and the Turtles. In those comics, it turned out TCRI’s scientists were actually aliens that looked like brains called Utroms. They had robot bodies carry them around to blend it an people. The cartoon used that design to invent Krang, a warlord from Dimension X. The second TMNT cartoon said Krang was actually also the Shredder. The current cartoon has hundreds of autonomous drones that are collectively the Kraang. Anyway, who knows if they’ll show up in this movie or not. I think Tyler Perry is playing Baxter kind of like real-life scientist Neil Degrasse Tyson, but amped up past 11.

Rocksteady is mutated

Whatever Stockman’s doing seems to imply he’s mutating people. There’s a shot of April spying on it and a huge hand emerges out of some gas to slam the thick glass and crack it. I think anyone familiar with TMNT can guess what we’re about to see.

Raphael gets Michelangelo's attention

Whatever they are, Raphael sees them and physically turns Mikey’s head to also see. The Turtles are clearly in a transport aircraft here. I wonder how that happens?

A mutated Rocksteady

So what are they looking at? Well, it’s the mutated Rocksteady, a giant rhinoceros man.

A mutated Bebop

And also Bebop, a giant warthog. Michelangelo, never one to have good timing, irritates Bebop by saying: “Dude! Bringing back the mohawk. Good for you.”

Bebop and Rocksteady attack the Ninja Turtles

Bebop replies: “Oh-ho. Y’all got jokes, huh?” Then they charge the Turtles. These guys are HUGE.

The Ninja Turtles jump onto spaceships

Now we cut to a bunch of quick action shots from throughout the movie. Here’s one of the Turtles jumping from spaceship to spaceship. There’s more in the upper left. Mikey has his skateboard.

April O'Neil adjusts her cleavage

We get a super gratuitous shot of Megan Fox adjusting her cleavage in a schoolgirl uniform. I can’t imagine what that’s possibly for. But she also has a green watch thing. A Turtle communicator?

Bebop and Rocksteady have motorcycles

Rocksteady and Bebop on choppers. These guys’ design is a literal interpretation of their appearances in the original cartoon. That’s actually where they were first seen, in that cartoon, not the comics.

Bebop chases Casey Jones

Casey Jones is rollerblading down the streets while being chased by Bebop and Rocksteady. The rollerblades were given to Casey Jones in the current Nickelodeon cartoon. TMNT has many different iterations and they all sort of cherry-pick elements from previous versions at this point. There are currently three ongoing TMNT continuities that are not the same: IDW’s comics, the Nick cartoon and these movies. Sometimes I wonder if that confuses audiences.

Rocksteady charges on all fours

This could be a different scene. It’s hard to tell. Bebop is clearly on a trike but maybe the choppers above were trikes. Rocksteady starts running forward on two legs but then drops his arms and begins charging on all fours like a real rhino.

Casey Jones skates away from Rocksteady

And here’s Casey skating at top speed between parked cars while the charging Rocksteady blasts cars out of his way.

Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick

A black Dodge Charger driven by Casey Jones weaves through traffic. April and Vern are in the car. Will Arnett is back as Vern Fenwick and shouts: “Why aren’t we going with the Turtles? When something bad happens, you want to be with the Turtles!” He makes a great point!

A tank emerges beneath Michelangelo

The final shot is slow-mo CG fun. Donnie and Mikey float on debris down a river. Then something explodes from beneath them. It’s a whole tank!

Raphael saves Donatello from a tank

And Rocksteady is piloting said tank. He shoots and Donnie is at point blank range but Raphael flips in from the side and grabs Donatello out of the way. What kind of tank can pop out from underwater? Did Baxter Stockman invent that? Or could it be alien technology?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

June 3, 2016.