Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - Review


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back. And this time, they come "out of the shadows".
After the panned and deemed disastrous new interpretation of the iconic four mutant martial arts fighting turtles by producer Michael Bay, the TMNT gang nevertheless gets another shot with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows".
While the typical Bay action and effects extravaganza still seems to be fully present, director Dave Green seems to have a better grasp on understanding what fans actually want to see in a TMNT movie.
Thus, trailers for the movie showed that not only are fan favorites like the Turtle Van, Bebop and Rocksteady in the movie, but so is interdimensional brain-alien Krang along with his Technodrome.
But is fan service enough for this sequel to wash away the bad taste of its predecessor, or is it simply yet another disaster in a half-shell?...

The plot:
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.
Source: IMDb

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" (TMNT 2) is a sequel that despite the mostly negative reactions and feedback from fans towards the first 2014 movie, was absolutely destined to happen. Much like the Transformers franchise, TMNT has Michael Bay's characteristic producing style written all over it - and TMNT 2 is no exception.
With it being a direct sequel that puts the (still weird) looking Turtle gang back into new action against new foes, TMNT 2 is once again, loud, very dumb and ridiculous. Yet at the same time, TMNT 2 also marks a significant improvement over its predecessor by delivering fan service in spades and over-the-top action scenarios that (with all due respect towards the 90s TMNT movies) might very well make this movie the best movie adaptation of the crazy TMNT cartoon's overall feel.
Same same, but different, but still same.

TMNT 2's story picks up some time after the events of the first movie and is quickly said and done: The Turtle gang do their everyday routine by fighting crime and eating pizza when interdimensional iconic brain-alien Krang frees Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady from their captivity to gain their aid by bringing the Technodrome to Earth and take over the world.
With that being said, this sheer simplistic outline should already right from the get-go tell you that you are basically dealing with a kids movie here that just happens to be fueled by loads of nostalgia inducing imagery and characters.
However, with its prime target audience being kids and young teens, the pacing of TMNT 2 is expectedly very fast. With plot points being annoyingly repeated over and over again for little kids to be ablte to follow and the plot basically consisting mainly out of the Turtles stumbling from one action set-piece to the next, TMNT 2 is once again very typical Michael Bay movie making 101.
But with TMNT 2 being still an improvement over the horrible 2014 movie, TMNT 2 does good in at least focussing on what people came to see in the movie - the Turtles. Letting the human characters take a backseat in favor of focussing more on the Turtles, the villains and their actual mission, was a very wise move for what it's worth.

It still has many issues, but at least it finally gives fans what they want to see.

Whereas the action set-pieces are especially ridiculous in TMNT 2 (with one of them being the Turtles skydiving out of a plane), the crazy action that easily tops the first movie happens to fit the tone of the original cartoon show admittedly very well. In particular the addition of fan favorite henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady is what fans were eager to see since the first TMNT movies in the 90s. More encounters between the warthog and rhino duo and the Turtles would've been welcome, yet what we get to see should mostly satisfy viewers - even though the Turtles still don't really fight like ninjas but rather like muscular reptilian bouncers.
It all makes TMNT 2's story, dialogue or overall quality not that much better, yet at least the movie comes off as leagues more entertaining, albeit that the movie ends with a very uninspired final showdown against yet another robotic antagonist on a skyhigh huge platform.
There really isn't that much more to say about the story. It's as classically simple and kid-friendly of an action movie story about the TMNT gang as it gets (for better and for worse).

It's mostly simple, over-the-top and crazy, but guess what: so was the cartoon.

Taking a closer look at the protagonists though, the welcome bigger focus on the Turtles occasionally even gives way for some scenes to really shine and feel very characteristic for TMNT. Much like the short but very nice elevator scene in the 2014 movie (which was hands down the only good part about that movie), TMNT 2 luckily has quite a few more of such scenes which actually nicely deliver that certain TMNT humor. Mostly due to the jokey comments by Michelangelo or the overall interactions between the Turtles alltogether, the individual personalities of the Turtles really start coming to life in those calmer moments. Therefore it's kind of a shame that the movie follows such a very action focussed fast pace and doesn't give the character development in those calmer moments more time to come through.
Another theme that occasionally gets tackled in the film is the topic of whether the Turtles want to become humans - the creatures they aspired to and wanted to be like for so long. And despite this topic offering huge amounts of potential, the movie sadly kicks it away very quickly as if it suddenly noticed that it would exceed the comprehension of its kid- and young teen viewers.

The new bigger focus on the Turtles themselves is a nice change of pace.
Now taking a look at the human protagonists, those are sadly the biggest throwaways and problem cases with the movie.
Aside from the human cast featuring basically 90% of the retarded and just flatout stupid dialogue in the movie, neither Megan Fox as April nor Will Arnett as Vern do a good job of being more than the generic annoying sidekicks than they were in the 2014 film. While at least Arnell actually does have some occasionally solid comedic moments, Megan Fox as April O' Neil is a pure waste. Looking even less than her cartoon counterpart than in the 2014 movie, Megan Fox is once again pure eye-candy and treated like a piece of meat in TMNT 2 (even in a slutty schoolgirl outfit), having pretty much nothing in common with the capable and recklessly ambitious April that we came to love from the cartoon and comics. Well, at least considering how horrible of an actress Megan Fox is anyway, this airhead of a female sidekick actually fits her level of acting credibility and charisma quite well. 

Enjoy your eye-candy, because that's all this April O' Neil is good for.

However, a completely new and notable addition to the human cast comes in the form of "Arrow"-Star Stephen Amell. And although Amell does good as superhero Green Arrow in his TV-show and indeed has a certain irresistable charisma, he is absolutely forgettable in TMNT 2.
Aside from giving a very generic and by-the-numbers "goody two shoes"-guy performance, the entire movie itself got the character of the iconic Casey Jones completely wrong.
Instead of a hockeymask wearing and criminals beating brutal vigilante, TMNT 2 presents him in the form of a POLICE OFFICER who happens to take matters into his own hands...and happens to do so by senselessly wearing a hockey mask and hockey stick (apparently just because he likes hockey...).
Casey Jones' depiction in TMNT 2 is the exact opposite of what the character originally stood for and resultingly absolutely erases the tension, disputes and interactions between him and the Turtles which we got so plenty of in the cartoon. In its place, TMNT 2 instead tries to make way for tension with a hinted at flirty love interest between Casey and April, yet this also goes nowhere and doesn't interest anybody anyway (thanks to Amell's boring character and worthless airhead Megan Fox's April).

Who are you? And why are you wearing Casey Jones' mask?

Sliding over to the bad guys' side, TMNT 2 finally introduces an actual human actor as Shredder. And while the casting of Asian actor Brian Tee as Shredder is great, the movie sadly doesn't make any effort in giving Shredder anything to do. He wears his iconic costume for a couple of minutes yet never do we see him in action against the Turtles with it - Bummer.
However, instead we do get two other fan favorite idiot bad guys doing the action for him: Bebop and Rocksteady. Both these characters are a great and long-awaited addition to the TMNT movie franchise and were worth the wait. Sure, neither of the two is anything too spectacular in terms of design or personality, yet seeing it as pure fan service, the interactions between the two, and the spot-on recreation of their looks makes seeing them fight against the Turtles on screen a sight that fans waited for for years.
And to top all that off, Krang finally made his way to the big screen. Krang is introduced suprisingly early, very often shown and obviously the main new antagonist the Turtles have to deal with. In comparison to the original cartoon show, Krang is quite a bit bigger yet still resembles his original design pretty closely. Same goes for Krang's voice which was always a key-part of his sleezy, sarcastic and imperative persona (although there will surely still be enough hyper-fans that will complain about his new voice).

Bebop and Rocksteady's appearances are very welcome and mostly spot-on.

Overall,  "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" remains hard to really recommend as a "full-on good movie", yet it also marks an undeniable noteworthy improvement over the disastrous first movie by giving fans actually more of what they always asked for.
With the same Michael Bay trademarks consisting of redundant action blockbuster tropes still being intact, the movies by-the-numbers simple storyline and throwaway human characters, are to a certain respectable degree made up for by TMNT 2's bigger focus on the Turtles themselves and lots of pleasing fan service. While this doesn't make the movie instantly good, the focus on the Turtles in crazy situations in connection with mostly very accurate representations of fan favorites like Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang, make TMNT 2 at least a whole lot more enjoyable and just fun to watch than its predecessor (as long as the human characters aren't on screen).
Sure enough, at the end of the day, TMNT 2 is still a mostly just dumb movie that is very obviously directed towards kids, but as long as you can adjust your expectations accordingly and manage to ignore the oftentimes stupid dialogue uttered mainly by the human characters, you might actually be surprised how much the movie might entertain you in a rare "big dumb fun movie way".
Non-TMNT fans or hardcore haters of Bay's Turtles interpretation sure still won't be convinced by this sequel, yet those more forgiving might actually find themselves not regretting having watched it.

Final Verdict: 4 out of 10


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