Directed by Dave Green
Starring Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Brad Garrett
Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in the early ’80s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rose to prominence when the lighter toned 1987-97 cartoon series caught the general public’s imagination. This sequel to the Michael Bay produced 2014 film (the third film incarnation of TMNT) shifts the feel of the franchise significantly, addressing much of the fan-based criticism. Out Of The Shadows lessens the darker notes of its predecessor to be more in line with the tone of that popular cartoon incarnation.
A year after his plan to conquer New York was thwarted by the Turtles, Shredder (Brian Tee) manages to escape police custody. Teaming up with the extra-dimensional being known as Krang (Brad Garrett), he and his newly mutated creations, warthog Bebop (Garry Anthony Williams) and rhino Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelley), seek to bring an alien artefact known as the Technodrome to Earth to conquer the world. Only the four pizza loving brothers stand in his way, if they can get over the usual sibling rivalry, embrace their differences and fight as a team.
This film really does play like a greatest hits compilation, as they throw fan favourite characters April O’Neal (Megan Fox), Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), and Master Splinter (Tony Shaloub) into that mix as well. I guess they just left Usagi Yojimbo out, so they have something left for a third film.
Out Of The Shadows certainly doesn’t run on a sense of logic. That sounds like a strange complaint when you are talking about four mutated turtles named after Renaissance painters using their ninjutsu skills to fight an intelligent multidimensional slime in a robot suit, and his man-beasts… but there are limits.
On one side of the equation you have the hyper extreme cartoon reality of ’90s cartoons, where things are made to sell toys, no one is injured by the immense violence, and trans-dimensional alien computer systems can be hacked in seconds to further the plot. On the other side you have the world according to Bay; where female journalists transform from sexy librarian to slutty schoolgirls chasing a lead, honest cops drive American muscle cars worth a few years of their take-home, and just about everything explodes.
Consequently plot, acting, and physics don’t really matter. You just sit back as an audience and let the pretty pictures sell you things, be that turtle merchandise, fast cars or Megan Fox. Disturbingly enough though, that sort of works. At times these two worlds mesh together perfectly, as this heightened unreality allows you to entirely forget about gravity and you can just watch the action and everything else fly by. At other times you cringe at the special brand of sleaze that Bay brings to your childhood memories (as director Dave Green apes his producer’s style perfectly). Ultimately though, if you can buy into the ludicrous world it is creating (and fans of the original cartoon series to some degree already have) then you can strap in and enjoy, as the film quickly moves from one action beat to the next without much pause.
Slipshod, lazy, and clunky, but just dumb enough to be fun in places. This is a film that is reliant on a great sense of sentimental nostalgia to get you through it.