Quick, hands up. Who else was looking forward to a sequel to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Anyone?
That movie was straight out of the Michael Bay School of Childhood Destruction (Bay produced it, as he does this one). Take a bunch of well-loved cartoon characters from the 1980s, turn them into ugly live-action versions of the originals, then blow up as many things as possible before ending with a CGI-heavy finale that makes no sense whatsoever. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to add a sprinkle of Megan Fox to distract fanboys from the fact that their childhood is being destroyed in front of their eyes.
So yeah, I was not looking forward to this particular sequel. Not one bit.
Well, the good thing about having extremely low expectations for a movie is that it could end up surprising you instead. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows (which we will call TMNT2 from here onwards), is better than its predecessor, but not by much.
With the Turtles’ origin story out of the way already, director Dave Green goes right into the action with a pretty decent intro sequence that has Leonardo (commander and the leader), Michaelangelo (he is the joy and the laughter), Raphael (he is the toughest fighter), and resident brainiac Donatello free-falling and free-wheeling through the New York sky and sewers to get to a basketball game.
It starts to go downhill, however, once the humans start showing up – including Will Arnett’s Vern (who took credit for defeating Shredder in the first movie at the Turtles’ behest), Megan Fox’s April O’Neil (who fulfils her role as token eye candy perfectly but offers little else), and Arrow’s Stephen Amell as sports-themed vigilante Casey Jones (instead of arrows, he shoots hockey pucks at those who have failed this city) who, for some reason, seems to have inhaled a whole lot of helium before shooting this movie. It’s a good thing I watched the season finale of Arrow before this.
As for the villains, Shredder (Brian Tee) and his Foot Clan are back, but this time, he is accompanied by another throwback to the TMNT cartoon – Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE’s Sheamus), a dim-witted but powerful pair of mutated animal henchmen (Bebop is a warthog, Rocksteady’s a rhino). The main plot revolves around ugly alien overlord Krang (Brad Garrett) – who, to quote from the movie, looks like a piece of chewed-up gum with a face – wanting Shredder to assemble a thingamajig that will open a portal to another dimension and allow Krang’s giant spaceship to come and take over the world.
No, really. That’s it. Hey, what did you expect, it’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
Anyway, like I mentioned before, this is actually an improvement over the last TMNT movie, though that really isn’t saying much. The Turtles look much better, the action is actually pretty decent, and Bebop and Rocksteady were actually pretty cool nostalgic throwbacks to the original cartoons. It’s just a pity that we have to put up with all the non-turtle-y stuff as well.
Also, the finale is a CGI-heavy fight between Krang and the Turtles that looks like it was lifted from one of Bay’s Transformers movies (“Hey Dave, it’s Mike. I’ve got some scenes of things blowing up that I didn’t use for Transformers. Go ahead use ’em for TMNT2 and save me some money, OK?”), and is so mind-numbing that by the time it’s over, you may feel like there’s purple ooze coming out of your ears.
While TMNT2 is much better than its predecessor, if you are a true fan of the Ninja Turtles, you should be watching the Nickelodeon cartoon series instead. Or better yet, go read Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman’s original comic. Now that’s a TMNT story I would love to see on screen.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows
Director: Dave Green
Cast: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Laura Linney, Gary Anthony Williams, Sheamus, Brad Garrett