Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows review
No fun in normality
When a technologically advanced alien race invades New York City and Marvel’s mightiest super heroes are nowhere in sight, the Big Apple still has an ace in the hole—their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Borrowing a great deal from the third act of 2012’s The Avengers, this weekend’s sequel to a 2014 reboot still manages to have a lot of fun, make the audience laugh, and have a great taste in music selection. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows embraces many blockbuster sequel tropes and skillfully avoids becoming a bloated, overbearing experience despite the fact that Michael Bay (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) served as one of the producers.
Having defeated Shredder (Brian Tee—Jurassic World, “Chicago Med”) in their last crusade, the heroes in a half shell start their new film riding high on self-esteem, but one thing still plagues each of them—will human beings ever accept them as they are if they surface, mutated turtles and all? Enter Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry—Gone Girl, A Madea Christmas), the inventor/ physicist working to break Shredder free from captivity using extraterrestrial technology. When the turtles’ journalist pal April (Megan Fox—Jennifer’s Body, This is 40) uncovers Stockman’s plan, she manages to nab some of this alien tech. Upon further analyzing, the turtles discover the alien ooze could be the answer to making them more physically acceptable by altering their appearance from turtle to human being. Do they want to fit in and accomplish normality, or stay true to themselves and save the world?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows takes what made its predecessor a success and builds upon that as opposed to exploiting it. For example, in addition to returning well-known cast members Fox and Will Arnett (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, The Brothers Solomon), director Dave Green (Earth to Echo) added über-entertainer Tyler Perry, three-time Academy Award-nominee Laura Linney (Mystic River, Mr. Holmes), and television star Stephen Amell (“Arrow,” Code 8). Despite all the high-profile names in the cast, the turtles remain the real stars with their talented counterparts simply making the film’s absurd, yet familiar premise acceptable with their performances.
The CGI 3D parade also gets more opportunity to pop out at the viewer, instead of the numerous wasted opportunities from the preceding movie. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the film lies with the soundtrack, which favors classics (for example, The Hollies’ “Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” or Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”) apropos to any given sequence instead of whatever Top 40 hit managed a little cross-promotion with a blockbuster movie. What the film lacks in plot, originality, and literal humanity, it makes up for in spectacle and sheer fun.
Boasting a talented, extended cast and blockbuster fun in bulk (with perhaps too many Apple products blatantly referenced), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows promises a lot of fun, but not much after that. Fans of the turtle brothers will especially enjoy the introduction of canon favorites Professor Stockman, vigilante hockey-lover Casey Jones, alien warlord Kraang, and brawlers Bebop & Rocksteady. Those looking for substance should pass in favor of Me Before You, but those looking to kill a couple hours in air conditioning or simply get out of the house will find a pleasant surprise in either movie featuring Will Arnett this weekend.