Director: Dave Green
Writers: Josh Applebaum & Andre Nemec
Cast: Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Laura Linney, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Sheamus, Gary Anthony Williams, Brittany Ishibashi, and Brad Garrett
Synopsis: As Shredder joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady to take over the world, the Turtles must confront an even greater nemesis: the notorious Krang.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
I’m going to be honest with you guys; I did not like the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that came out in 2014. So my excitement for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows was very low to nothing at all. However, being a Turtles fan, I sucked it up and went, and while I did enjoy myself more this time around, saying that this film was better than the first isn’t really saying much since the first film wasn’t that great overall. Not only that, and this is something I just want to get out of the way, the film also felt like a reboot at times with sequel elements. There is obviously a new Shredder actor and the film treats the new actor in Brian Tee was the same actor from the first film, which was not the case. There are other things, but I won’t mention them here. That might be nitpicky to some, but it’s something that needs to be bought up.
Out of the Shadows follows our four brothers Leonardo (Ploszek), Michelangelo (Fisher), Raphael (Ritchson), and Donatello (Howard) as they continue to protect New York from threats from the shadows. However, their old enemy Shredder (Tee), who is about to go to a maximum security prison, is freed from the Foot Clan and scientists Baxter Stockman (Perry). Shredder is not alone this time, as he hires two hired muscles in Bebop (Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus) to help him out with the Turtles, by transforming them into wild animals, as he plans to help the alien Krang (voiced by Garrett) to conquer the world.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has a pretty simple story structure: heroes trying to stop the bad guys. Which is fine considering this new franchise is more geared and targeted for kids. That’s not saying it’s a bad thing, some of the humor will bring a smirk to your face or make you giggle, but overall just keep that in mind. Actually, something I noticed, the action is toned down a lot from the last film. Sure there are big action sequences, but nothing like the avalanche sequence – one of the better sequences from the last film – but they’re a little on the light side this time around.
To add more, the final act feels almost like a beat-for-beat repeat of the last final act. The final fight is over-filled with CGI and almost zero weapon combat. That’s right, the turtles barely use their weapons throughout the whole film, and that’s something I noticed after walking out of the theater. It’s pretty disappointing, but I’m holding anything against the film, but come on! People want to see the Turtles use their weapons in a fight. Not only that, some things happen way too conveniently more than once, and it’s a bit heavy handed at times, which takes the enjoyment out just a tad.
However, the one thing I will say is better this time around is the dynamic between the Turtles. We see the toll it takes on them and how they feel about having to always be hidden from the world. They want to be accepted, but they know they can never be with the way they look. No matter how many times they defend and save the city, they city and the people of New York will never know who really saves them. That being said, we get more Turtle screen time than the last time, which is where the focus should be. The other part that makes his better is the motion capture performances by the actors and the fact that they bring their own motives and physicality to the roles.
With that said, the humans take a backseat and play more of the supporting roles. I was never a fan of Megan Fox as April O’Neil, and I still don’t buy it. Will Arnett returns as former cameraman, not famous public figure, Vernon Fenwick and is as funny as ever. New member to the Turtle crew is Casey Jones, played by Stephen Amell, who really does own the role, but doesn’t have enough to do. Tyler Perry’s Baxter Stockman is socially awkward and a bit weird, which was surprisingly enjoyable to watch. Laura Linney is surprisingly, and shamefully, wasted as her high ranking chief Rebecca Vincent that doesn’t really do anything really.
When it comes to the villains, they are okay to disappointing. Brian Tee plays Shredder, doesn’t do anything worthwhile, at all. He gets a cool outfit, but that’s it. Brittany Ishibashi plays Karai, but is never referred by name and literally does nothing other than stand in the back or next to Shredder. Gary Anthony Williams and WWE superstar Sheamus who play Bebop and Rocksteady look like they were having a ton of fun playing goofballs before and after they get mutated. As for Krang, his character appears near the beginning of the film and literally disappears until the final ten minutes of the film. The character is pretty wasted here and seemed like they just introduced him for the sake of having another famous and fan-favorite villain
All in all, if you can get past the fact that the film is geared more toward a younger crowd then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows can be for you. It does have its good moments, and remember this is coming from a guy that wasn’t really excited for this, but there are things that build up that make it a flawed film. One of them being that it thinks you didn’t watch the last film, so you won’t notice the casting changes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
3.5 out of 5