Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out Of the Shadows: Film Review
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Laura Linney
Director: Dave Green
If the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was more of a surprise than expected, then the second, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out Of the Shadows is perhaps a depressing sign that this series has already lost its way.
This time around, as Leo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelango live underground unable to take the credit for their takedown of arch enemy Shredder last time, sinister plans are underway to break Shredder out.
However, things get more complicated for the quartet when it turns out top scientist Baxter Stockman (Perry) is behind the break and a scientific purple goo that activates primordial DNA within humans. So with Manhattan facing a greater danger than ever before, the team is on the case - but with fractures growing between the four, is the danger more threatening to their own future than just the city?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out Of the Shadows is a film that skews incredibly young and that stays true to its comic book roots / kids TV cartoon.
The problem is that the resultant on-screen hotpotch feels like a film that shows its 2 hour run time.
While the Michael Bay produced first film was a definite popcorn brain at the door type flick, this latest is more of an action film that simply shifts from one set piece to the next, with brain whirring going through the motions to stop you thinking too deeply about anything going on.
Whether it's sidelining the bad guy Shredder (already an empty cypher) or turning too goons into CGI warthog and rhinoceros, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out Of the Shadows lacks a coherence of execution that's galling to sit through.
Action sequences are shown from multiple takes, with explosions given precedence for the multi camera approach as if to dull your brain into submission. Equally, the turtles free-wheeling through the Manhattan skies at the start seems to exist solely to ensure that you can see what the CGI does, rather than emphasise their growing unhappiness at being confined to the shadows.
This is a film that sacrifices the main characters and moments for spectacle - and the great majority of those sequences are jettisoned to show off the Orc-like Rocksteady and Bebop's CGI creations. It's a shame as the turtles' existential dilemma is quite a meaty one, with them finding themselves torn between a life in the shadows as unknown heroes or stepping out into a world of judgement.
But this thread is squandered in favour of more dunder-headed CGI antics of a pair of farting animals. It's understandable that the makers have gone younger for this film, but they still stop short of going the whole hog and embracing the younger market it's clearly aimed at. It's a tonal mish-mash that feels like it's struggling for an identity and a relevance in today's market-place where action blockbusters offer more smarts than simply eye-candy.
With mentions of other franchises with Raph intoning "What would Vin Diesel do?" and Michaelangelo coming across a Bumblebee Transformer in a Hallowe'en parade, this film isn't interested in feathering anything other than its own nest and universes, and consequently feels like it's yet another franchise that's lacking in soul.
Fox and Arnett are forgettable and without any kind of spark at best, Arrow star Stephen Amell is simply boisterously shouty as Casey Jones and Laura Linney looks detached at best as a police chief. Equally, Perry comes dangerously close to mugging as a Nutty Professor type boffin. These are humans who are second fiddle to the turtle teenagers, and it shows throughout.
While fans of the TV series and comics may be happier with this Turtle outing as well as younger members of the audience, but quite frankly, the turtles have come out of the sewers and so has the overall soulless execution and story of this film.