Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Not feeling like so much of a sequel to 2014’s reimagining of the 2014 film, but a soft reboot, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is more than a mouthful of a title.
There is a stark contrast from the darkness, shadows, and let’s be honest, general scariness of the previous film and this one. This version of TMNT is sunnier, the colour palette is much brighter, fan favourites appear, like Casey Jones (Canadian Stephen Amell), Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and Sheamus), Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry, doing his best Neil deGrasse Tyson), and of course, the brains behind the entire operation, Krang (Brad Garrett).
The biggest change, other than bringing in director Dave Green (Earth to Echo) is making the turtles look more human, well, turtles are not human, but ultimately giving them humanity. In the last film, they looked like Frankish mutants, but here the edges are softened somewhat. Another interesting change is removing Johnny Knoxville as a voice actor and allow the core group of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo (Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson and Noel Fisher). Surprisingly, the movie belongs to Fisher (perhaps best known from starring in the TV show Shameless and as Vladimir in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2). His “Mikey” bordered on annoying in the previous film. Here, his humour and pathos is kept light. And yes, discussing pathos in a Ninja Turtles movie seems surprising, but that’s what this movie offers.
What it doesn’t offer, unfortunately, is anything resembling a coherent narrative, or for that matter, any sort of high stakes. Enemies are easily defeated or tossed aside; the less said about Super Shredder (Brian Tee), the better, and Bebop and Rocksteady are given very little to do.
What’s worse is that Laura Linney looks like she’s in a different movie as the police chief, Amell is too hinged to play Jones, (someone like Elias Koteas would have been perfect), and sadly, Megan Fox and Will Arnett are back to rehash their characters of April O’Neil and Verne Fenwick. Both seem to not know whether to play the roles as serious or funny, and instead are neither.
The plot involves the secret of the ooze, (once again), but instead of focusing on that element, it’s an extended metaphor about teenagers being outsiders, and Tony Shalhoub as the voice of Master Splinter imparts many lessons, most of them fairly obvious. The title of coming out of the shadows refers to the Turtles stepping into the light. The film shines a light on making a blandly enjoyable kid’s movie, but looking for a more substantial take on the turtles would be bring too much gravitas into a story that lacks much with which to begin.
However, this is a medium dosage of Turtle Power, a little bit of Cowabunga.