A review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

By Ryen Thomas

June 3, 2016

In 2014, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rebooted and one would think it’s one of the worst films ever made based off how fans and critics united with a negative response. April O’Neil (Megan Fox) was positioned in the narrative point of view and, because of that, we didn’t see the Turtles until she got her first clear view of them. That frustratingly allowed the beloved Turtles to be M.I.A. for much of the first act. In the villain department, Shredder was included, but the bad guy we saw more of didn’t even wear a cool costume! Then, there was the disjointed plot and tone that wavered between grounded and the classic campiness that was appreciated with the original franchise.

However, it’s 2016, we have a new film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. If you’re an ‘80s or ‘90s baby who loved the Turtle power from original animated series and live action movies, then rejoice because this sequel is for you! Out of the shadows comes a follow up that finally embraces its inner geekdom! Is it more fun? Check! More pizza? Check! Lots of New York City love and action? Fully loaded!

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

When asked if they are superheroes, Raphael responded, “We are just four brothers who hate bullies, and love this city!” That’s what this sequel is all about.

Remember the scene from the last movie in which the Turtles beat boxed in the elevator? That scene showed the brothers’ chemistry and we get more moments like that in the sequel. But, while brotherhood is at the heart of the movie, the Turtles’ individuality shines, albiet a little forced on us at moments. Leo (Pete Ploszek) remains the fearless leader. Donnie (Jeremy Howard), the brains and, though Raph (Alan Ritchson) is more rude than cool, he remains the muscle and consciousness of the team. Mikey (Noel Fisher), the pizza lover, on the other hand, is way cooler than them all put together! Their added screen time allows for internal dynamics to be explored, having teammates divided over philosophical differences, a commonality with other hero films out this year.

The humans take a backseat, but their contributions are worthwhile to the story. It’s easy to go on about how Megan Fox still plays April O’Neil like attractive cardboard, but the writer’s craft her character the way it’s supposed to be, allowing for her to give the Turtles human connection and investigative support. Former cameraman Vern (Will Arnett) returns, and his elevated status in the film works perfectly to add more humor.

Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) and April O’neil (Megan Fox) Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Added to the band of good guys is Casey Jones, the hockey mask-wearing do-gooder on the side. He’s played by Stephen Amell and fits into the bunch so well that it’s easy to forget he’s the lead star in his own hero show, Arrow. Jones’ desire to prove his himself in his field mirrors Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), one of the many new villains in the film. Perry is obviously having so much fun with the role that he pretty much giggles his way through. His characters spits out the kind of pseudo-science that made the original movies awesome and through it we get the return Ooze!

Enter: the dumb duo, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly). These guys are straight from the cartoon and, I will admit, it’s about time we’ve gotten a live action version of them, instead of the mutated wannabes, Takkor and Razhor, from the original Turtles 2.

Last to the list of villainy is Krang, the big baddie that pulls all the strings. Also from the TV show, he’s a talking brain with tentacles, lodged inside of a giant robot that maneuvers and fights for him. His motives are simple and he gives Shredder more reason to be in the film. Shredder’s stoicism counterbalances the more colorful villains perfectly, which provides humor and tones down the kind of angst that was in the last film.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

In the best sense, everything about this movie is what it is and, like how all the characters face the classic message “Be Yourself,” the film returns the franchise to the ring and doesn’t try to hide what it truly is: A live action cartoon that makes folks feel like kids again.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

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