Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
PLOT: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back! And so is their deadly enemy Shredder, who has escaped from custody and is ready to literally destroy the world with a powerful new weapon. With the help of a few familiar faces - as well as fan favorite Casey Jones - Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael are ready for a brand new adventure.
REVIEW: When Platinum Dunes and director Jonathan Liebesman first brought us a new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, it was a better ride than I initially expected. While many fans had issues with the lack of certain fan favorites, the return of the Turtles pleased enough of them to warrant a second film. With TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS - directed by Dave Green - we do get more of the same, yet it it may just be enough of an improvement to really excite audiences once again. With the return of Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Michaelangelo (Noel Fisher) we are also given a few characters that many felt were necessary in the TMNT universe. And yes, that means Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) and Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and the biggest treat, an introduction to Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). So how does this seqeul to the pizza loving mutant turtles stack up? Read on.
After the capture of the world's most dangerous villain, Shredder (Brian Tee), things seem to be under control. Of course, after the vicious badguy manages to escape with the help of his Foot Clan, we find that there are dastardly deeds in the work that will destroy the world. Thankfully, with the help of the always reliable April O'Neil (Megan Fox), the boys are soon back in action. Although this time, they have some real help in the form of Casey Jones, a cop who has a penchant for hockey. Things only get worse for the brothers when they discover a serum that can turn men into monsters - notably Bebop and Rocksteady - but it can also possibly turn giant turtles into humans. None it it will matter however if the creepy looking beast of bad dude called Krang (Brad Garrett) gets his way. With a bit of a time warp and tons of action, it is up to the turtles and their pals to save the world once again.
One of the things that worked in the first film was the turtles themselves. They are energetic and adventurous and for the most part quite a bit of fun to watch. The second they appear on-screen in OUT OF THE SHADOWS, they are jumping off tall buildings and risking their lives, only to watch a basketball game high above inside the Jumbotron. While I certainly wouldn't call any of the characters deep, the effects are very impressive and they look pretty damn intimidating. I wouldn't want to run into these dudes in a dark alley. And while their master/father/mentor, a giant rat named Splinter (Peter Donald Badalamenti II and Tony Shalhoub), is stil in the mix he really isn't given a whole lot to do. Even still, I enjoyed the commraderie with the brothers and the voice actors manage to make the silly dialogue work well enough. Hey, they are teenagers so they can afford to be a bit goofy.
As far as the human factor, Megan Fox is back and she seems to still be having a good time with all the craziness. As well, Will Arnett returns as Vernon Fenwick, ready to wisecrack his way through the action. When it comes to Bebop and Rocksteady, both Farrelly and Williams chew the scenery until there is nothing left but they sure are enjoying the hell out of it. Sure they end up closer to the characters you are familiar with, but we get to see them pre-mutation and it worked. It was an interesting idea placing both Laura Linney and Tyler Perry into the madness, although they do seem strangely out of place in this bizarro world. In fact, once Linney shows up playing the tough as nails Chief Vincent, there were a few unintentionally funny bits. However, it's always good to see the actress take on something a little unique and this certainly qualifies.
The biggest thrill here when it comes to on-screen talent in television's Arrow, Stephen Amell as Casey. The actor fits right in and it is hard to deny that he adds extreme charisma to the role. Much like Elias Koteas did in the 1990 big screen version, Amell is terrific here. He brings a level of cockiness and energy to the role and he nearly steals every scene that he appears in. Casting both he and Fox together was a smart move that pays off quite nicely. Frankly I'm not familar with Arrow, but I can honestly say that the actor has serious movie star quality. It also didn't hurt that the script has a bit of fun with the character adding a couple of references to another hockey mask wearing icon - gotta love the FRIDAY THE 13th nods.
Much like the last film my main issue would be the ridiculously obvious script by André Nemec and Josh Applebaum. There is little logic to what is happening on-screen, but let's be fair, this is a story about four gigantic mutant ninja turtles who love pizza. Yet the final act is all over the place and it feels a bit like so many other superhero flicks that came before it. I was half expecting THE AVENGERS to join in the fight. It also didn't help that Shredder is sort of a bland villain in the recent big screen adaptations, however, that wacky Krang is more than a little ugly and odd with more personality. Even still, this is about ninja turtles fighting evildoers so don't go in expecting brilliant dialogue and incredible character arcs.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS is a fine sequel and it helps that the action is mostly exciting to watch. The effects are solid and this is especially true with the CG characters at the forefront. The real treat here for fans may just be the return of Casey Jones. Amell is especially charismatic and he gives Fox something to work with. I truly enjoyed the two together. This is the type of flick TMNT fans will definitely entertain in thanks to the humor and the huge action set pieces that mostly work. Hell, that opening scene pulls the viewer in immediately and only lets up occasionally - I could do without some of the moments of doubt where the turtles questions their loyalty. Thankfully the focus is on the fun, and OUT OF THE SHADOWS will certainly please a whole lot of turtle fans out there.
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