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Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

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Certificate 12A, 112 minutes

Director: Dave Green

Stars: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It opens with the four turtles - Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Raphael (Alan Ritchson) and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) - bouncing around New York in a hurry to get somewhere, picking up a pizza on the way. Where they are heading is not that important - it's a New York Knicks game. In the audience of the game is the cameraman, Vernon "The Falcon" Fenwick (Will Arnett, The Lego Movie), who has become a big celebrity and hero, as he agreed to take the credit for taking down Shredder (Brian Tee) in the previous film. The turtles are a bit upset that they have to keep hidden away from the rest of the world, and want to get out in it themselves, Mikey going so far as to, briefly, join a Halloween parade. After all, being a turtle just looks like a really good costume. This is a reference to the "Out of the Shadows" part of the film's title.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jun 24, 2016)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows
April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is following up on the head researcher of TCRI (a company that's been a major part of the TMNT franchise), Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry, Alex Cross), who she believes is connected to the Foot Clan. After hacking his tablet, she discovers that he's got a plan for breaking Shredder out of custody. Shredder is being escorted upstate, along with two other criminals, Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) and Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) - neither of whom seem that impressive as criminals - and Baxter and the Foot are going to break him out during transit.

The turtles head out in a tricked-out garbage truck after the convoy. The Foot, on motorbikes and using a couple of other vehicles and a helicopter, quickly destroy all the escort vehicles before concentrating on the van holding Shredder. Despite the turtles best efforts, Shredder gets away - by teleporting.

The teleport was supposed to take Shredder to a designated location, but it takes him somewhere else, where he meets an odd being attached to a robot body who calls himself Commander Krang (Brad Garrett). The teleport is one of three parts of something called the Ark Capacitor that Krang had sent to Earth in order to invade and conquer the planet, but it broke apart on entering the atmosphere. Krang wants Shredder's help in finding and reassembling the device, so he can bring his battlestation through to conquer Earth. Shredder asks for help in dealing with his enemies, the turtles, and Krang gives him a container of a purple liquid. The motivations of the two seem a little off at this point; Shredder agrees to this awfully easily. He really doesn't seem to be getting that much from this partnership.

Back on Earth, Chief Vincent (Laura Linney) has taken over the search for Shredder. The witness statement of the corrections officer who saw what happened during the escape is less than convincing, involving as it does ninjas on motorbikes and tricked-out garbage trucks, so Vincent doesn't take him at all seriously. Rather unfortunate, because he happens to be telling the truth.

The corrections officer, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), who really wants to become a detective, decides to try and track down Bebop and Rocksteady himself. Shredder has already tracked them down, and he and Dr. Stockman decide that the two criminals will be ideal test subjects for the purple serum. Trying it out on them turns Bebop into a warthog, and Rocksteady into a rhinoceros. Both rather bigger than the turtles. April witnesses the transformation, and steals the serum, preventing any more soldiers from being made. Whilst escaping from the pursuing Foot, she comes across Casey, whose pursuit of Rocksteady and Bebop has led him to TCRI. Jones, being an ardent ice hockey player (previously, and probably deliberately, mentioned), has the equipment in the boot of his car, so takes the hockey mask (which results in a number of Friday the 13th jokes) and a hockey stick and intervenes. When the turtles arrive on the scene, Casey assumes they are monsters, although he comes around quite quickly.

Donatello discovers that the purple serum could possibly change the turtles into humans. Leo doesn't approve of this idea, and tells him to keep it from the others. This backfires quite badly, and the brothers once again start falling out amongst themselves, fail to act like a team, and Leo starts feeling the pressure of leadership. Of course, he gets some advice from Splinter (Tony Shalhoub/Peter D. Badalementi) at this point. Everyone is going to have to work together as a team to stop Commander Krang's plans to invade Earth (quite why he wants to invade the planet never comes up; motivations are generally a bit lacking).

TMNT: Out of the Shadows is available in 2D and 3D with the 2D version being the one watched, although by the looks of the various scenes, many of which involved aerial stunts or shots, this is probably the sort of live action film that would have been okay in 3D. The film is full of decent effects and set scenes, with most of the scenery taking centre stage as opposed to the, often quite unmemorable, characters. Their portrayals are often quite standard. The turtles already have their set roles, leader (Leo), muscle (Raph), brains (Donny) and heart (Mikey). Dr. Stockman is the mad scientist - really, he seems to have no motivation for what he's doing. Shredder is the cold bad guy. Krang is the comical, albeit dangerous, bad guy. Vernon is the comical sidekick, although that role is less in this film - Casey Jones now fulfils some of it. April is the hot reporter - some of her costumes were, by the looks of it, deliberately intended to showcase Megan Fox's figure. Bebop and Rocksteady are the dumb villainous muscle. As previously mentioned, genuine reasons for the actions of the various characters is generally lacking.

This is a film that is exactly what you'd expect. Although it's theoretically quite violent, no-one ever really gets hurt, or is ever seen to get hurt. The attack on the convoy would have left a lot of bodies, but none are ever seen. A machine gun manages to shoot the place apart around to people, yet they escape without even a scratch. Comic violence at its most harmless slapstick all told. The turtles fall apart as a team, then rediscover their unity. As expected. The effects are big and impressive, there are some nice, if largely unmemorable, visual bits and one-liners, but there's nothing really stand out. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is an adequately watchable film that does seem to be a bit better than its predecessor, but is neither memorably good nor memorably bad.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows egdcltd 2016-06-24 3.5 0 5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jun 24, 2016)


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