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Dan Bernardi
[intro-text size=”25px”]Tired of the same monotonous review schemes, I volunteered for a series of alternative, high-tech experimental procedures. Monitored by the Director and crew, I am mentally displaced and implanted into a myriad of cinematic simulations, or “cims”. Fully absorbed for the duration of each run time, the sole mission is to report my findings from within the scenes. These reports are known as Total Review.[/intro-text]

– CIM #1005 – “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” – 112 mins. – release: June 3rd, 2016 –

It’s been a few weeks since I last jacked in, but when I heard there was a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cimulation ready for testing, I rushed to the lab. You could call me a TMNT freak. Or at least I used to be. Dozens of action figures, comics, cartoons, themed birthday parties. I grew up worshiping four walking, talking, totally radical anthropomorphic turtles who lived in a sewer, devoured pizza, and fought crime. For some inexplicable reason, the Turtles have outlasted my childhood and rumor has it that their newest adventure, a follow-up to their 2014 reboot, is the biggest one yet. Tubular.

When the cim activates, I’m immediately thrust into the action. The Turtles are hustling through New York City and its sewers at break-neck speeds, and I can barely keep up. It’s dark, and we weave through the shadows, but pretty quickly I realize I’m sporting a giant shell on my back, and I’ve got less fingers than I remember. Finally I realize that, in this cim- I’m a fucking teenage mutant ninja turtle. A sense of nostalgia washes over me, and I pick up the pace to keep up with Leo, Donny, and Raph as they meet up with Mikey (and the za) to go catch tonight’s Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.

The only problem is we have to watch the game from above the Jumbo-Tron. Despite previously saving the city from the insatiable legendary baddie Master Shredder, New York isn’t quite ready to accept a squad of tortoise brothers as their heroes. Not yet anyway. We head back to the lair and pow-wow with Master Splinter, our Confucius-like sensai father who also happens to be a giant rat, and soon learn from our sexy sleuth friend, reporter April O’Neil, that Shredder’s got a plan to bust out of the transport vehicle that’s delivering him to a lifelong prison sentence. Naturally, we intervene.

Shredder’s henchmen, the Foot Clan, surround the transport vehicle. As an amateur half-shell hero, I avoid combat and sit in the back of the Turtle Van, a high-tech battle ready garbage truck stocked with some of the most insane weapon gadgetry I’ve ever seen. We’re launching manhole covers and swinging giant metal arms at the bad guys, and I haven’t felt this giddy since I was a ten year old boy. The action is a spectacle to behold, and even in the midst of battle, its hard not to chuckle at the onslaught of jokes and goofs coming from my turtle brethren. Saving the world can be fun.

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It can also be an epic pain in the ass, especially when Shredder isn’t your biggest problem. Even with the help of his two endlessly entertaining and beefy mutant errand boys, Beebop and Rocksteady, Shredder’s posse is peanuts compared to Krang. Straight from the otherworldly Dimension X, Krang is a small, brainy pink blob alien overcompensating with a massive war machine called the Techno-Drome, and he’s got his sights set on Earth. The last time I saw the Techno-Drome it was a model playset in my closet at home (with 3 mutant play areas!), but I’ve never seen it like this before, and it was very jaw-droppingly bodacious- albeit world-threatening.

Now I won’t spoil the cim’s ending, so you’ll have to experience TMNT: Out of the Shadows for yourself if you want to find out, but I will say that despite a slew of over the top characters, cheesy dialogue, convenient and confusing plot points, clearly aimed at a younger demographic… I haven’t had this much fun with the Turtles since Secret of the Ooze back in 1991. There was just enough fan service that I could disregard it’s flaws and silliness and let my inner-child out for the night. Die-hard Turtle fanatics will likely appreciate the upped level of craziness from the TMNT universe, and if we get another Turtles adventure soon, hopefully we get even more wild, more dangerous, and more pizza.

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