Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Poster

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Poster

2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot was hated or disliked by pretty much everyone, but since when does that stop the sequel train?  Two years later, the four green bros are back together to fight enemies new and old, alongside allies old and new.

Piling on the fan favorites, the baddies this time around include Shredder (Brian Tee), Krang (Brad Garrett), Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly) and Dr. Stockman (Tyler Perry).  If the first film was The Amazing Spiderman, this one is Spiderman 3 as far as villains go.  We get a new hero too in the form of Casey Jones (Stephen Amell).

First off, it’s obvious the studio took the criticisms of the first film to heart, and at least halfway tried to fix the problems.  The turtles’ strange and bulky looks are toned down a bit, and April (Megan Fox) is no longer the main character.  Shredder looks and acts like Shredder instead of a transformer gone wrong, and the humor is upped.  They forgot to do something about the plot though.

In a quick scene near the beginning, that reminded me of any number of cheesy cut scenes in a cheap video game, the entire simplistic plot including the numbered objectives is explicitly laid out.  With that out of the way we can focus on the action and comedy and forget about what’s going on, right?  If you’re curious, Shredder needs to open a portal by collecting three fragments of a doohicky that broke apart when it entered Earth’s atmosphere, sent there by an evil alien brain guy.  And then they can take over the world.  And the turtles are the only chance of stopping them.  There you go.

Stylistically the film falls in line with the first one with producer Michael Bay‘s fingerprints all over it.  Slow-mo hot girl, check.  Exaggerated explosions, check.  A transformer cameo, check.  Nothing necessarily wrong with all that, but you know what you’re in for right from the get go.

When the film lets go and allows itself to just be a goofy cartoon – especially during any of the scenes with Bebop and Rocksteady – it’s actually a lot of fun.  But then other characters get involved.  Shredder is played so straight it hurts, and most of the other human characters are just too serious or completely flat and uninteresting.  Even Will Arnett‘s Vern is rather dull half the time, though he does have a couple of great moments.  Laura Linney just seems confused to be there at all, like she thought she was in a different film all together.  Tyler Perry on the other hand is so completely over the top that what would have been a perfect performance had the tone been kept consistent across the board ends up jarring and even unsettling.

Storywise, it’s not much more original than the first one.  This time it’s a Star Trek Into Darkness/Wrath of Khan rehash of The Secret of the Ooze while stealing from the first Avengers movie.  At least it seems to be building some sort of mythos of its own now so if this franchise continues, perhaps the third film will be its own thing?

The action is pretty good with some fun new merchandising opportunities, and stunts so outrageous they could only work in a cartoon-inspired world.  There is plenty of fun to be had, in spurts.

There are two major things this movie lacks, though, that stop it from being more than just somewhat enjoyable.  Heart, and any reason to care about the turtles.  You know, the main characters.  I really didn’t care about any of them at all.  They’re each reduced to personality types rather than characters and aren’t that interesting most of the time.  That’s a problem.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

Brother Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Two out of five hats

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Trailer:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows sneaks into 4,071 theaters, including a limited IMAX3D run, June 3

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