The revamped live-action TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES was released two years ago from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and Nickelodeon. It was a Box Office hit, but not so much a hit with audiences and fans alike. The film suffered from a huge lack of understanding about the characters, their origin and just natural storytelling. The script did under go a lot of changes, the turtles were originally going to be aliens and William Fichtner’s Eric Sacks was going to be revealed as The Shredder. With all of the backlash they did re-shoots and tried to fix what they could before the film was released. Now two years later, the sequel to the 2014 film, OUT OF THE SHADOWS has arrived and with the previous film fresh in everyone’s mind, have they managed to fix their past mistakes?
This new film takes place a year after the events of the previous film, our heroes in a half shell are still living underground, and Vernon (Will Arnett) has taken credit for taking down The Shredder (this time played by CHICAGO MED’s Brian Tee). April O’Neill (Megan Fox) is still working with the turtles and is investigating a scientist named Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), who has potential ties to The Shredder. Speaking of The Shredder he is locked up is in progress of a prison transport, this is where we meet Correctional Officer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) and low life criminals Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE’s Sheamus). Thrown into the mix as well is dimension X’s Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett), and a plan for total world domination.
There is a lot happening in this film, lots of plot threads are at play and we have new characters and the introduction to previous ones as well. When you have so much going on, it is not always easy to handle and things can easily fall apart. However this film knows it has a lot to get through and it manages to fit everything in, with enough exposition that we can follow what is happening. Unfortunately there are some scenes and plot points that are rushed through, Krang’s introduction being the biggest one. While a longer scene to establish him would have been good, the film really doesn’t need a longer running time, so there a silver lining. The additional new characters get as much development as needed, perhaps Baxter Stockman suffers the least development in terms of his motivation.
The greatest achievements here are the turtles themselves and the fact that the previous film is barely mentioned. As much as this is a sequel it is also a semi reboot but at the same time doesn’t feel like it is. Michaelangelo once again played by Noel Fisher is much less of a creep and more of a party dude and goofball. This felt like the Mikey I grew up loving, and Fisher felt so much more at home this time around. Alan Ritchson delivers a strong Raphael, he did a great job before and continues that here. Jeremy Howard was fantastic as Donatello, his character felt so much more authentic and his voice really fit with my own vision of how Donny should be. In a fantastic move Pete Ploszek gets to voice Leonardo as well as play him, and this could be one of my favourite versions of Leo. He was the team leader, he was conflicted and flawed. These are the turtles we all know and love, and it was great that they, and the film as a whole shared the flavour of the 1987 cartoon series.
Our human and side characters felt much better as well, a big improvement all around and much easier to tolerate. April is not as central as she was, and it works better because the show is not about her. Megan Fox seemed more comfortable in the role and thankfully she wasn’t entirely reduced to eye candy. Brian Tee was very natural as The Shredder, he looked the part and he was quite the screen presence. Loved the casting of Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman, he was very goofy and eccentric, the perfect combo for the character. Stephen Amell was fine as Casey Jones, whose character they changed a little here, but it made sense to fit him into the story. The stand outs however are Gary Anthony Williams and Sheamus as Bebop and Rocksteady, not only were they extremely entertaining but they shared incredible chemistry together. Every time they were on screen, you just can’t look away, it just clicks and I really hope if they do make another we get more of them.
Despite being a little messy at times, this is a very fun and entertaining film. It fixes a lot of mistakes and almost presses the reset button, it feels fresh and a lot more like the way the turtles should be. The action sequences are fantastic and crazy, they certainly don’t hold back in terms of what can be done and where they can be done. There is a good amount of comedy as well and blends together extremely well. The decisions made were the right ones for the most part, and Dave Green’s direction shows a lot of passion for the material. As a life long turtles fan this was extremely pleasing, yet for the non or casual fans this really should appeal as well. It does not box itself in to one type of fan, and it is a lot more friendly for the younger audience. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS is a fun time experience, and perhaps one of their best outings.