At first glance, you would think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows was directed by Michael Bay – a director known for making movies based on 80’s cartoons. In reality, the man behind the lens is Dave Green (Earth to Echo). Out of the Shadows is the follow-up to 2014’s blockbuster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (it grossed $494 worldwide). Clocking in at 112 minutes, the movie plays like out like a four episode story arc of the Nickelodeon animated series.
The story picks up a year after the events in the first movie. We find the four pizza loving mutated turtles still living in the sewers of New York City and watching Knicks games from inside the jumbotron. Afraid of how humans will view them, the turtles let Vernon “The Falcon” Fenwick (Will Arnett) take credit for capturing Shredder (Brian Tee).
In true cartoon fashion, April (Megan Fox) is undercover and believes T.C.R.I scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) is working with Shredder (Brian Tee). Baxter and the Foot Clan plan to break Shredder out of custody with the help of an alien transportation device. The Turtles run in with the Foot Clan introduces them to a vigilante named Casey Jones (Arrow’s Stephen Amell) and two dimwitted felons named Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE’s Sheamus).
The cartoonery only increases as more bad guys and bigger destruction is added to the story. Shredder and Baxter have their own evil plans, but the real big bad is an alien named Krang – a gigantic (and very sarcastic) brain stuffed into a robot body. Krang plans on bringing a massive war machine from another dimension to destroy people on earth.
Who are the only people who can stop them…you guessed it, the Turtles.
In a year when the box office has been dominated by superhero movies, Out of the Shawdows doesn’t try to be like those films. The movie fully embraces the ridiculousness and childlike energy that makes TMNT so popular with kids. There’s horrible dialogue, bad jokes, cheesy one-liners, and plenty of fart jokes. There’s even epic exchanges like:
Rebecca Vincent What are you, superheroes?
Raphael: Just four brothers who hate bullies, and love this city!
There are “issues” with the film, but none that ultimately matter. Is April more of a private eye than a reporter? Yes. Is it another movie where the brothers have conflict? Do regular people take out ninjas? You know it! Is it another movie in New York and people don’t have New York accents? Of course it is.
Just like the Fast & Furious series, TMNT never tries to be something it’s not. It gives fans of the characters everything they want and more. It’s nearly two hours of fan service for 8 year old boys and girls. All of the wackiness in the film is controlled and focused through the lens of how fun the Turtles and their supporting cast of characters are.
Speaking of support, Will Arnett is terrific. Vernon could be a silly, throwaway character. Thankfully he’s treated like a real character and given some moments with the Turtles and Casey Jones that provides a few of the film’s funnier moments. Megan Fox does her best eye candy in a blockbuster routine, while Amell struggles to find his legs for most of the film. Again, none of that really makes a difference in the end. If you came for pizza, jokes, and punches, the Turtles have you covered.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows would never be classified as a good movie; however it is exactly what you want from a kid’s movie about giant mutated turtles. It’s more of a live action adaptation of the animated cartoon than a sequel to 2014 movie. The action sequences are imaginative and fun and the childlike humor is so goofy it’s almost impossible not to laugh.