TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS – A REVIEW BY HAYDEN PITTMAN

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“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” has a similar formula to its predecessor, along with increased action, fantasy-sci-fi like material, creatures, gadgets, comedy and more, that makes it slightly better than the first, but that isn’t saying much for most that saw it.

Seemingly designed as a fan movie reminiscent of the old Turtle's cartoons that present corny dialogue, overly dramatic action, characters, and interactions, over the top attempts at humor, etc., this extreme science fiction, quasi superhero film appears to be designed more for younger audiences.

A year after the Turtles saved New York City, unknowingly to the citizens, from large tycoon, Eric Sacks, the villain Shredder and his notorious Foot Clan soldiers, the bad guys are beginning to resurface. With the help of a mad scientist, Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), the Foot Clan break Shredder out of jail so they can join forces with an even greater enemy – the evil Krang of the Dimension X galaxy, who plans to bring an extraterrestrial invasion to Earth.

Teamed once again with partners April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and a new ally in the hockey-masked vigilante, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), the Turtles must stop Krang, Shredder, Dr. Stockman, the Foot Clan and newly created humanoid mutant creatures, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) from destroying the world. In doing so, the Turtles will finally have to make themselves known to the public, whether their accepted or not.

Don’t get me wrong, this film is an extreme fantasy, special effects and action-filled ride and does have entertainment value, but it’s clearly meant for kids. I’m not sure if the over-the-top, overly cheesy and generally silly style of the cartoons fully translates to live action, but it sure does feel like that's what the film is aiming for. Along with the overuse of CGI to carry these films nowadays, it appears to have many of the same elements from what I’ve seen of the older cartoons and movie versions.

The first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film in 2014 received even more negative reviews than the mixed to negative comments the sequel is getting, but due to a successful run at the box office and a planned multi film deal (contingent upon its success), a second film was made with the hopes of a similar box office run and a potential third film. The first film was mildly entertaining to an extent, but I personally wasn’t a huge fan. “Out of the Shadows” is slightly better, but the target of a young audience and possibly extreme fans is even clearer.

In this sequel, they’ve made several changes to the cast and crew. Brian Tee has replaced the actor who played Shredder in the first, Perry now plays Dr. Baxter Stockman, the character of Karai is now Brittany Ishibashi, and Johnny Knoxville is no longer the voice of Leonardo. Pete Ploszek, who co-voiced the character with Knoxville in the first, takes over in this film, due to conflicts with Knoxville’s schedule. Dave Green takes over as director, following Jonathan Liebesman, who did the first. 

Regardless of director changes, filmmaker Michael Bay’s stamp is ever so present. From the action, to the slow motion, giant explosions, characters, plot, and the music, it’s Bay all the way. One of Bay’s frequent go to music composers, Steve Jablonsky, replaces Brian Tyler from the first film. The Turtles' films star Megan Fox, much like Bay’s “Transformers” films, and the formula of the story and even the look of the film/certain shots feel like Bay’s style. The credits list Bay as a producer only. But I speculate he either has a greater influence, or the film uses his people to make it.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” seems to be all around better put together, yet still very much like the first film, despite the weak, muddy, and typical narrative, so it will likely do very well at the box office. While it has that childish, goofy style to it, there are things in it for adults as well. Kids of fantasy action films should very much enjoy; adults be ready to laugh, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way.

This film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. Running time is 1 hour and 52 minutes. “Out of the Shadows” features Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Brittany Ishibashi, Laura Linney, Pete Plosezek as the voice of Leonardo, Alan Ritchson as the voice of Raphael, Noel Fisher as the voice of Michelangelo, Jeremy Howard as the voice of Dontatello, Tony Shalhoub as the voice of Splinter, Gary Anthony Williams, Stephen Farrelly, and a hand full of cameos such as Carmelo Anthony and Alessandra Ambrosio.

3 out of 5 stars.

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