In the early 80’s, a couple of comic book creators, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird developed four characters that would capture the imagination of millions worldwide. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have gone through many iterations over the years, but the love for these “Heroes in a Half-shell” has never wavered. In 2014, TMNT was rebooted to big financial success worldwide, but fans were critical of the turtles look and it’s darker tone. Now the sequel entitled “Out of the Shadows” looks to correct these mistakes and bring back a lighter and funnier tone that fans have loved in the past. Can this turtles movie deliver the goods?
TMNT: Out of the Shadows starts with real promise. We find our heroes; Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo roaming through the sewers on their way to a basketball game. As they arrive with their pizza of choice to watch the game high above the crowd, on the jumbotron flashes their prior heroics from the last film thwarting Shredder and his evil plans. Shredder now is on his way to pay for his crimes in a maximum security prison. Unfortunately for the turtles, they were never given credit. The knowledge of these heroes is still known to only a few. April ‘O’Neil (played by Megan Fox) and Vern Fenwick (played by Will Arnett) are their only allies. Unbeknownst to our heroes a plan has been hatched to break out Shredder. Unbeknownst to Shredder during his escape he’s hijacked by an alien warlord, Krang, to another dimension where he’s been told to find three compounds so that Krang can travel to Earth to conquer it.
If the last paragraph hasn’t turned you off then this latest TMNT movie is for you. This film is a cartoon come to life. Turtles that know martial arts, a mutated rhino and warthog, hockey loving street avenger and a pink multi tentacled blob from another dimension. This is a recipe for a fun and flawed turtles adventure. Our heroes have a much improved look. They look more like lovable turtles then creepy CGI characters. They also have a more natural rapport with each other. The dialog is light and funny and only gets more serious to further the story. The turtles are a better representation of their well known cartoon counterparts and works great in this movie. Megan Fox returns as April ‘O Neil. Megan’s portrayal of O’Neil is average at best. She may have the looks here, but you never feel as if she’s exercising any real acting muscles. Will Arnett also returns as Vern Fenwick. Will does an excellent job as Vern. He’s less of a creep like the last film and a more fleshed out, over the top character. Will is a real highlight in this film. New to the cast is Stephen Amell. Amell plays Casey Jones. Casey Jones is a well known ally of the turtles in the cartoons. We are introduced to him here as a police officer who believes he must track down Shredder even if he does it alone. Amell never feels comfortable as Casey Jones and I never felt alright with him. His portrayal is out of place and doesn’t have any chemistry with the cast. The only other two stand outs are two CGI characters, Bebop and Rocksteady. They are Shredder’s not so bright mutated animal henchmen. If talking ninja turtles aren’t enough comic relief for you, these two dim witted behemoths provide even more.
In the end TMNT: Out of the Shadows is not great cinema. Although, this film breathes new life to the big screen turtles. It’s a Summer movie escape full of ridiculous characters, underwritten storylines, and plot holes that you could drive a garbage truck through. But as long as you can suspend your disbelief for two hours, you’ll have a “shell” of a good time with these pizza loving ninja turtles, especially if you’ve been a fan from the beginning. Don’t forget to bring your little ninja turtle, they’ll love it more than you.