Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review
If you remember back in summer 2014, I was one of those weirdos who actually liked it. Its not a perfect film, its far from my favorite TMNT film overall. The flaws are quite simple. I never really bought Megan Fox as April O'Neill and I couldn't really stand that the turtles never really felt like a team. Though individual character moments worked, there was a fun energy to the whole movie. Also for a film produced by Michael Bay, I was impressed by how much the film embraced the original source material and nothing got sexed up in the final result, and no turtles had un-needed, obnoxious, potty-mouths.
The first film was directed by Jonathon Liebesman, and while he made an admirable first effort, I very much prefer the work done by Dave Green. In this new movie, the turtles feel like a team, their personaltities are on an even finer display and the energy of the film is much better. Is this a flawless sequel? I am afraid not. There are still plenty of goof-ups I noticed throughout the film. But taken as a whole, I don't think I understand why critics can't connect with these movies. "Out of the Shadows" is another fun turtles movie. Its full of goofy humor, goofy interactions, big action and colorfully crazy bad guys. This feels much closer to the original 1990's movies and the cartoon on TV. I am not sure what people aren't getting from this. These movies are supposed to be big, weird, oddball tales...they are about teenage mutant ninja turtles!
When we pick up with our characters in this sequel, the teenage mutant ninja turtles are still keeping New York City safe, but they are still operating in secret. Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) took the credit for ridding the city of the Shredder (Brian Tee). The turtles thwart a mission by the Foot Clan to break Shredder out of imprisonment while he is being moved between prisons. Instead, Shredder is transported to another dimension, where he meets the alien warlord Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett). Krang makes Shredder a deal, build a portal from his dimension to Earth using pieces Krang hid on Earth and he will kill the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shredder accepts and is given an mutated ooze to help keep the turtles off of his tail. This eventually leads to the creation of the animal versions of Rocksteady and Bebop, two criminals who escaped imprisonment with Shredder. The turtles, with the help of April, Vern and a new friend Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), plan to stop Shredder from building the portal to Krang.
The action scenes are just as exciting as the first film, in fact, I'd argue that they are better. There is a more seamless quality to this film that I felt was missing from the first film. I think Green gets the dynamic of this group better than Liebesman did, there is stronger character development and bigger emotional payoffs. For example, when the turtles find out about the mutant ooze in Shredder's possession, they argue over whether or not they should use it to become human. That is a major theme throughout the entire film and I think it works overall. Whether its for story purposes or fun purposes, its just plain fun to watch these characters interact. I think the voice talent by Pete Ploszek, Alan Richton, Noel Fisher, and Jeremy Howard is very good.
I am a huge fan of "Arrow" on TV and I was curious to see how Stephen Amell would do as Casey Jones. It turns out he does a damn fine job. Casey Jones is nothing like Oliver Queen from that show, nor should he be. There is a spunk to each of Jones' step, he's a witty character, a fun character and he kicks all sorts of butt. I am sure kids will find a lot to like about this Casey Jones. Amell meshes with these characters easily, and does a good job of etching in the details. I also have to give a special shoutout to Tyler Perry, who plays mad scientist Baxter Stockman, a man who allies with Shredder and turns Rocksteady and Bebop into animals. When Perry isn't cross-dressing, he's actually a very charming and charismatic actor and I liked him in this.
The problems start with Megan Fox, I think she can demand a powerful presents at times, but she's still no April O'Neil. I think as a character, Fox still leans to highly on sex appeal, and that was never really April's character. While she's a little better than last time, she's still no April O'Neil. While I think Brad Garrett does good voice work for Krang, he's a little too goofy of a bad guy. Yes, I know this is a movie geared towards kids and I dig it. But when we initially meet Krang for the first time, he's way too much of a cartoon villain to be treated as a serious threat. Why Shredder would be intimidated enough to join forces with him is a little hard to believe.
But, these movies are getting better and better. I am hoping by a third movie, this franchise will be just right.
FINAL GRADE: B
+teenage mutant ninja turtles