The latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is probably not going to please everyone. The script is pretty straightforward with a lot of moments that make very little sense. Yet, if audiences are willing to go along for the ride, they will notice that TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS is never really trying to be the next great thing in movies, it just wants to give moviegoers a mindless thrill-ride and it succeeds in doing exactly that. Audiences may not walk out of this film with their lives changed, but for one hundred and twelve minutes of their day they will find themselves having a whole lot of fun and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Continue reading for more of our TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE 2 review.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS begins right where the last TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES left off. Shredder has been captured and is now behind bars. Of course, everyone already knows that this isn’t going to last. Thanks to the help of his Foot Clan and the evil scientist Baxter Stockman, Shredder escapes only to run into the weird and wacky alien Krang, the real villain of the story, and learns of his plan to destroy the world. Thankfully we have the Turtles on our side. They once again team up with the always reliable reporter April O’Neil and a newcomer, Casey Jones, a cop with an unhealthy obsession with hockey, to hopefully save the planet.
Okay, I’ll say it right up front – yes, the script itself has a lot of problems and many critics will revel in pointing them all out. If you want my opinion though, when a film is as much fun as this one is, who cares? Sometimes fun is all that a movie needs. Director Dave Green seems to embrace the fact that he is not making the next CASABLANCA here. He keeps the tone of the film light and energetic and along with writers Josh Applebaum and André Nemec, he never allows the story or the characters to take themselves too seriously. The key to the film’s success is that its focus is mostly on being both fun and exciting. It starts off immediately with a lot of energy as the turtles hurtle through the city, jumping from building to building only to wind up on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden where they watch a basketball game from the rafters. The film doesn’t take time to breathe either. After a very brief bit of humor, as only the turtles can do it, we find out about Shredders escape plans and the energy is kicked up a notch, as the turtles set off to stop this from happening. A high energy, sometimes humorous, but always exciting chase scene ensues and from here on out the film never lets up.
The action scenes are well staged and exciting. It’s obvious that no corners were cut here as the special effects blend in seamlessly with the action, while never bringing attention to themselves. The seamless rendering of the turtles themselves have improved since the last film too, as the characters look a lot more organic in their surroundings this time out. The turtles don’t only look incredibly real though, the attention given to the detail of each character in order to showcase their individual personalities is pretty fascinating as well.
Now, I don’t want it to sound as if the film is all action and special effects with no real character, because that never works. The actors playing the turtles give it their all and really allow the characters of Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), and Raphael (Alan Ritchson) to shine through with real personality. They all handle the humor that the turtles are known for well, but it’s the emotions created due to the struggles in the relationships that add another level to their characters. The interactions between the four turtles feels very natural as the writers took the smart approach by not having them always get along. There is a lot of conflict here which only adds a new level to the confrontations that they have with Shredder and the Foot Clan. As the four turtles bicker among themselves, their teamwork starts to falter as the four begin to lose trust in one another. Add to this the element of an ooze that could potentially turn them human, allowing them to fit in with the outside world that they fear won’t accept them as the large talking turtles that they are and we get a lot of interesting internal struggles within the individual characters.
Fans of the comic series are also going to be excited to meet two old characters who are making their first appearance in the rebooted franchise. They are the talking warthog Bebop and rhinoceros Rocksteady, two of Shredder’s henchmen who steal almost every scene they’re in. Played by Brian Tee and WWE pro wrestler Sheamus, these actors seem to be having a little too much fun in their roles, a fun that is more then infectious. Playing up the goofy nature of the henchmen, they couldn’t be any weirder or ridiculous. That is unless they are the films main villain, Krang, voiced by the underrated actor Brad Garrett. Krang looks like a chewed up piece of bubble gum and is as ridiculous as they come, fitting in perfectly with the tone that is created in the film.
The human characters, on the other hand are a little less interesting. Will Arnett is back as Vern Finwick, but he seems to have lost all the charm and humor that his character possessed in the first film. Megan Fox also returns as April O’Neil and although she gives her best in the role it doesn’t seem to be enough. April O’Neil as a reporter is almost pointless and although she has a few decent moments with the turtles, her character is too underwritten and unimportant to the story as a whole. Then there is Tyler Perry as the scientist Baxter Stockman who just seems to be doing his best to see how much he can overact. It’s interesting to see Laura Linney show up as the Chief of Police and Stephen Amell has some interesting moments flicking a hockey puck around, but all and all the human characters feel more like background players then anything else.
Then there’s Splinter, the father figure to the Heroes in a Half Shell and my personal favorite character in the franchise. In the few scenes that he’s given, we’re allowed to witness this interesting fatherly relationship that he has with the turtles, but he’s not really in enough of the film to matter though. I can only hope that if a third movie is made, the filmmakers will realize how great a character they have in Splinter and give him more to do.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS is the perfect example of a guilty pleasure. There are enough problems with the script to keep a “serious” film critic complaining for days, but lets face it, the film is centered around four talking turtles who specialize in the art of ninjutsu, a skill taught to them by a large talking rat, so going in audiences should already know to throw any bit of logic out the window. In my opinion, if you’re just looking to have a mindless, sit back and escape the problems of the world good time at the movies, then this really is the film for you. Not trying to be anything more than a great time, it succeeds in a very big way.
One final note: As I was watching the film I made a point to look around and gauge the reactions coming from the kids in the crowd, as they are the real target audience. What I noticed was that everyone under the age of twelve was sitting on the edge of their seats totally engrossed in everything that this film had to offer. It was if they hadn’t seen anything better then this, ever. What better reason is there to recommend a movie than that?