“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” was released this past weekend. It has been two years since the crime-fighting turtle brothers were last seen on the big screen with the 2014 reboot. Now they are back with a bigger set of villains and the hope of finally gaining acceptance from the people of New York. With the last film receiving negative critical reception and mixed reviews from fans, this sequel goes back to its roots in order to win back the multi-generational fan-base. But did it succeed?
When the 2014 film was released, many of the fans complained about the differences from the original cartoon and the popular lore of the Turtles franchise. These included the turtles’ lack of screen time, the tone not matching that of the show/comics and the villainous Shredder looking like a small Transformer/robot rather than an armored martial arts master. However, “Out of the Shadows” manages to fix all of these issues while still feeling like a continuation of the story. Faithful fans can rejoice in knowing that the turtles’ brotherly relationship is further developed, the tone is far more reminiscent of the ’80s cartoon that started it all and Shredder is portrayed as a person rather than a mechanical suit. In fact, many of the iconic gadgets and characters from the source material are wonderfully-added to this movie. The turtles are seen driving around in their awesome Turtle Van with a multitude of fun gadgets and functions (courtesy of Donatello). The hockey mask-wearing vigilante, Casey Jones, is introduced along with the villains Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman and Krang.
The plot revolves around an inter-dimensional villain, Krang, hoping to use scientist Baxter Stockman to recover the three missing parts of his portal machine that would allow his destructive home base, the Technodrome, to materialize on Earth and destroy humanity. Stockman garners the help of the imprisoned Shredder while creating mutants of their own, Bebop and Rocksteady, in order to obtain the parts required. Obviously, this is a job for the Turtles who need to save the world.
In many ways, this film was an improvement over the last one. However, the addition of so many characters and the poor execution of one in particular kept the film from reaching its full potential. Shredder is often pushed aside with his only purpose in the film simply being the person who bosses around Bebop and Rocksteady. Casey Jones, the vigilante seen helping the turtles in past incarnations, is given an entirely new backstory of being an ex-cop. In short, he barely wears the hockey mask, barely fights anyone and only seems like a simple ploy for the turtles’ heroine, April, to fall in love. Stephen Amell gives a solid performance with what he is given, but the character is written without the proper development required for such an iconic figure.
With that being said, the rest of the characters are portrayed wonderfully and receive adequate screen time. Bebop and Rocksteady are the highlights and take their ’80s appearance and attitude with them straight out of the cartoon. Obviously, the ultimate reason to see these movies are the four turtles. As seen in the last film, they are the core of the enduring popularity of this franchise and their unique personalities are all on display. The film’s runtime may be a little lengthy for a kids movie, but the action and comedy are fairly fast-paced. Mildly noticeable use of bad language seemed somewhat out of place as this is a PG-rated film meant for children and fans. Don’t go in expecting cinematic brilliance because you will get exactly what the film’s title promises. It is meant to be fun and silly. If you are a fan of the old Ninja Turtles cartoons/movies or even a fan of the last film, then there is no doubt you will enjoy this one. Boys from the ages of 5 to 12 in particular will also find a lot of jokes and action to enjoy. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is now playing in theaters everywhere. 3.7/5