UK Release Date: 30th May 2016
Runtime: 112 minutes
Director: Dave Green
Writer: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
Starring: Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry, Brad Garrett, Brian Tee
Synopsis: The turtles must spring back into action when master criminal Shredder goes on the run and enlists a scientist to help him create sinister human-animal hybrids to take over the world.
It was tough to find a reason for the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot to exist. The film was a vulgar, noisy take on the classic kids’ TV characters filled with the infuriating hallmarks of its producer Michael Bay. Combined with some properly creepy CGI on the turtles, this all served to create one of the most disturbing family blockbusters of recent years. With that in mind, no one was waiting for the sequel. However, the financial whims of Hollywood made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a downright depressing certainty. Thankfully though, things aren’t quite as bad this time around.
The turtles are living in the sewers below New York City, having let Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) take credit for the defeat and imprisonment of master villain Shredder (Brian Tee). During a prison transfer being carried out by officer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), Shredder is sprung free to enact a new evil plot. April O’Neil (Megan Fox) discovers that scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) is working with Shredder to create powerful human-animal mutants. Their work turns out to be part of another evil plot linked to the strange being Krang (Brad Garrett).
It’s worth starting out with the positives here. Out of the Shadows is considerably less offensive than the first Turtles film and has far more of a sense of what it takes to make a popcorn movie work for audiences. The story is, of course, hopelessly generic and any attempt to introduce emotion into the storytelling falls flat on its face, but the excessive violence and uncomfortable stabs at humour are largely absent this time around. Megan Fox’s role still exists solely to fulfill the masturbation fantasies of teenagers, but even that is less egregious than it was in the last film.
There are elements, too, of the film that really work. Incoming director Dave Green has a decent handle on the action sequences, giving them a sense of excitement that was entirely absent from the mindless Bayhem of the original movie. Much of the fun comes from Bebop and Rocksteady, the latter of whom is played by WWE wrestler Sheamus, who are great comedic value both before and after their transformation. They bring some much-needed genuine laughter in amongst the awkward and unamusing banter shared between the turtles themselves.
Out of the Shadows does, however, still suffer from the same problems with its CGI. In going for some approximation of photo-realism, it dilutes the inherent silly fun of some of the characters and simply makes them look disturbing. Krang, for instance, loses all of his innate comedy when he is portrayed as a dripping, icky brain in a suit. If the film’s goal with characters like Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady is in fact to scare the audience, then this is severely at odds with the tone of the rest of the movie.
The problem that Out of the Shadows has, above all else is that it is never able to justify its own existence. The story isn’t one that needed telling and it’s tough to believe that the selling power of the characters will be enough to put bums on seats. It would be kinder and better for everyone if this distinctly mediocre movie signals the demise of this desperately unnecessary franchise.
Pop or Poop?
This is an irrelevant sequel in a franchise that was irrelevant to begin with. It has a little more of a sense of fun than the first film in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, but it’s still an awkward film that doesn’t quite sit right with its supposed family-friendly tone.
The performances are bland, the gender politics iffy and there’s just no meat on the bones. This is a real bland epic of a film.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.