Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows | Dave Green | June 3, 2016
Nobody was expecting much from 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hell, it was clear that a sequel would be imminent, even though it got plenty of Razzie nominations. But money talks … along with executive producer Michael Bay and his production company Platinum Dunes. So now we have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows.
Right off the bat, the film ditches the pretenses of its predecessor, introducing the Turtles (Leo (Pete Ploszek), Donnie (Jeremy Howard), Mikey (Noel Fisher), and Raph (Alan Ritchson)) as they make their way across New York City skyscrapers and rooftops on the way to above-the-court seats to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, grabbing a pizza from deliveryman Kevin (wink wink, comic fans) on the way. From here, plot points start to unfold as Donnie helps their friend April O’Neil (Megan Fox) covertly obtain files from TCRI scientist and Steve Urkel/Neil DeGrasse Tyson-esque brainiac Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), which leads to the Turtles attempting to stop hench-ninjas from breaking Shredder out of a prison transfer convoy – except Shredder is teleported away and is intercepted by Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett), who offers him a mutagenic crystal and a promise to take out the Turtles if Shredder retrieves two components to bring Krang’s Technodrome to Earth. Shredder recruits bumbling lowlifes Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE’s Sheamus a.k.a. Stephen Farrelly) as transformed errand boys, thanks to the synthesized crystal, but suspended corrections officer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) is hot on their tails, which brings him into cahoots with April and the Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (or let’s just call it TMNT 2 for short, as the entire title is a mouthful in itself) is predictable in its plot points but manages to raise itself to the level of Mildly Amusing Summer Popcorn Flick – which may or may not be saying much. If anything, the sense of humor has evolved a little from the first film (less blatantly painful flirting attempts at the cost of more fetishizing of Megan Fox), as has the mo-cap anthropomorphising. The action sequences are well-executed – even the prolonged barrel ride chase a la The Hobbit. However, the more humanoid character design of the Turtles is still trying to adjust to, even with dated memories of the animated 90s show and the prior live action movies. And once again, the action sequences boil down to the CGI Turtles versus a CGI villain.
Design gripes aside, there are some unaddressed plot holes, like “How are Shredder and Karai younger and how does Shredder now have a full head of hair and a beard?”, “Where was Stockman in the first film?”, and “What has April been doing since getting fired in the first film?”, but this film belongs to the Turtles. The humans are helping out on the sidelines … but a little more human development might have benefited the film as a whole. On the bright side, Amell smoothly joins the cast (sans shaggy Oliver Queen hair), Laura Linney (who appears as a police chief) takes her role seriously enough, and Perry and Will Arnett gets to have some fun hamming up as Stockman and Vern Fenwick, respectively.
So while the whole franchise, to some fans, may be a steaming pile, it’s a good bit of fun for the younger crowd. Then again, I’m not the intended audience.