Hurtling onto the screen in a maelstrom of colour and movement that literally dives directly towards the sewer, it’s the high-concept/lowbrow mix that endearingly works in favour of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS, the sequel to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s been a year since the Turtles defeated Shredder (Brian Tee, replacing Tohoru Masamune), and the ninjas are still living in obscurity, allowing Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to take the credit for saving the city. Yet when Shredder is busted out of captivity during a prison transfer by scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and the mysterious inter-dimensional Krang (Brad Garrett), it’s the Turtles’ chance to step into the light and embrace their heroism.
It’s only minutes into the film that director Dave Green finds an excuse for reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) to slip into a Lolicon friendly schoolgirl outfit, and the movie promptly embraces being batshit crazy for the duration. Rather than going back to the grittier Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic book source material, Green’s film is a cartoon brought to life. Animated series creations Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus), an anthropomorphic mutated farting warthog and rhino respectively, are introduced shortly after the robotic ballsack Krang, ensuring there’s touchstones for anybody with even a passing memory of the late 1980s creations. Which is just fine, as this is undoubtedly where the majority of fans of a certain age latched on to the characters in the first place. The cartoony leanings occasionally clash with the mandatory Michael Bayplosion superstructure, filled with hyper-violence but always careful to show the bad guys parachuting to safety. Yet it’s this same motif that keeps the film a little more family friendly than the darkness of the superhero in-fighting that has otherwise dominated our screens this year, and the underlying theme of embracing unity through our differences is actually a positive one.
There are so many elements to TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS that are easy to drive a Turtle Van through. Stephen Amell (TV’s Arrow) as Casey Jones is an unnecessary addition, and undoubtedly one of the weakest links in the film, struggling as he does with the more upbeat tone of this comic outing, but also saddled with a script that has him verbalising his every waking thought. Laura Linney, as a disbelieving Police Chief Rebecca Vincent, often looks aghast at how she wound up on this particular set. When the final crisis point comes, and New York is under attack by seemingly unstoppable forces, her character’s decision to just go with it. Perhaps she is the audience’s avatar, and amidst the perpetual motion machine that never stops for subtlety or breath, that’s our only choice as well. In the end, it’s an extended version of the cartoon that it draws inspiration from, and it’s hard to argue with that.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS is released in Australia on 9 June 2016 from Paramount Pictures Australia.
2016 | US | DIR: Dave Green | WRITERS: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec | CAST: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Brittany Ishibashi, Laura Linney, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Tony Shalhoub | DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures | RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes | RATING: ★★★ (6/10)