People who regularly read my reviews will recall one of my earlier reviews way back in 2014 when I started the Axia Film Society, which was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and you will probably remember that I didn’t like it at all, in fact I put it in No3 in my worst films of 2014 list. I did say in that review that I would not be coming back for a sequel, so why am I reviewing this. Well, when I made that statement I didn’t think there was going to be a sequel, I assumed this film would bomb big style and Nickelodeon movies would take the whole thing back to the drawing board. Nevertheless, it must have made some money because we have a sequel less than 2 years from the first one, that is one of the most rushed sequels I have ever heard of. The Marvel films may be coming out year after year but Marvel clearly plans out each movie carefully and which characters they are going to need for each specific movie, plus those movies are not connected within the same series so you won’t get two Captain America movies out the same year. As I explained in my original Ninja Turtles review, I am a major Ninja Turtles fan from way back, I really liked the original cartoons, the comic and thanks to my Netflix account I am watching a lot of the more recent Nickelodeon series and I am enjoying it for the most part, a couple of minor complaints not withstanding. I was not really looking forward to seeing this one, there are no real changes, Michael Bay who I have already made clear, I despise as a film maker is still in the producers chair, however, this time we have a change in director, gone is Jonathan Liebesman, which I am cool with considering he is an hack director who doesn’t know how to do anything except impersonate Michael Bay, as anyone who has seen films like, Darkness Falls and Battle Los Angeles will attest to, which probably explains why Michael Bay keeps hiring him to direct a lot of his projects. Instead we have got Dave Green, who previously has directed the film Earth To Echo, which I haven’t seen, but what are you going to do? This film is really not inspiring me with much confidence overall, but I am a major Turtles fan and I felt I had to give this film a fair shot. Plus, this is probably one of the first films I have reviewed which has been a direct sequel to a previously reviewed film, so there is an opportunity for that. That is not the only thing about this movie that is interesting, if you spend as much time on the Internet as I do you are not going to be able to avoid seeing some reviews and their scores and get the general idea of the early impressions of a movie, it’s just not possible, mainly because I am not classified as a member of the press so I can’t get access to the press screening that a lot of the critics rely on to get their reviews out early. In this case it was not really possible at all to get an edge on this one because even after its release, this film had still had a review embargo on it, there were very few reviews on the Internet and rotten tomatoes didn’t even have a score. For the record, I saw this film on Tuesday 31 May so that probably will have changed by the time this review is published. With that all being said, however, despite the fact that I am going in blind with this film, did this film improve on the previous one in any way, shape or form?
The plot of this sequel is that the Ninja Turtles, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo (played by Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson and Noel Fisher respectively) are continuing to live in the shadows of New York City for fear of discovery. They are, however, called back into action after the Shredder (played by Brian Tee) is broken out of Prison by Krang (played by Brad Garrett) and Krang wishes to use Shredder to conquer this dimension by having him get several dimension gates for him. Meanwhile the Turtles are going through some difficulties, having discovered a mutitant that could potentially turn them human, however this causes friction within the group over whether to use it or not. Can the Turtles put their differences to one side and team up, to stop Krang.
Ok, I am going to get this one straight off my chest. This one is better than the first and I think that is down to one factor, the Turtles are put front and centre and are characterised much better. The dialogue is slightly better than the first one, (it has its issues but I will go into that more later) and I felt like I was watching something that had some honest to god effort put in to make a Ninja Turtle movie, rather than a cash grab, which the first one felt like and I get a sense that Dave Green has had more of an influence in this film which would explain why I like some parts of this film, plus it had some genuinely entertaining points and some really cool scenes. Do I think it’s a good film? No, sadly, this film still fails on too many levels and I think this is largely down to the fact that it had to take a lot of what the first film had brought into it.
The first major problem is, of course, the worst part of these movies is Megan Fox’s April O’Neil, she is not much better here, but fortunately the director realises that she is a side character and not the main character and that means she is more tolerable this time around. She still has absolutely no personality and there are a couple of scenes that prove she is purely in here for sex appeal, which feels really out of place in a kids film! Another big problem is the villains. This film can never stick with any villain and run with it. I mentioned Krang in the introduction, but he is barely in the movie. He is introduced in one scene at the beginning after Shredder is broken out of Prison and he doesn’t appear again until the climax of the film, for the final battle. Shredder is much better cast and is intimidating this time around and has a cool re-designed costume. But this is all for nothing, the Shredder doesn’t get a single fight scene in the entire movie, you built up this bad ass villain and gave him nothing to do and what’s more, what’s the point in hiring Brian Tee to do the role, I am certain he could do this, it was proven in the Wolverine. This time we also have the introduction of Baxter Stockman but he is not much better. I know Baxter Stockman is meant to be a bit of a Woody Allen knock off, but he is really annoying and again he doesn’t really appear that much in the film to leave much of an impact and it’s not just because it’s Tyler Perry playing him. The only one who it kind of sticks with are Bebop and Rocksteady who are played by Gary Anthony Williams and Professional Wrestler Stephen Farrelly AKA Shamus who are the characters who are largely advertised for the film from the beginning and I think they are where the biggest Michael Bay influence is on the film. I swear when these guys are on screen that Michael Bay came in to direct them because they are so annoying and every scene is them screeching, shouting and hollering and telling “funny” jokes, it’s all just so unbearable. They get some decent fight scenes later on but that doesn’t make up for it and I seriously don’t know what the point of it was. Oh, and we don’t go with the origin of them being spliced with the genes of the captured Rhino and Warthog, instead we get a much more stupid explanation that would have some of the people behind Assassins Creed calling it illogical and dumb and they are people that basically think you can survive the drop from a 10 storey building so long as you land in a bail of hay!! One of my big pet peeves from the previous film was Will Arnett being largely prominent in the film because he really wasn’t that funny at all, thankfully the creators are rather aware of this and his role has been significantly reduced, unfortunately he comes back more prominently towards the climax so we are kind of stuck with him. One of the things I was most excited about with this film was the fact that the film was also going to be an introduction of Casey Jones to the franchise who is played by Stephen Amell who DC fans will recognise as playing Queen in Arrow. I will go into more details about his casting later down the line, but when we go straight down to the character, we really don’t get that much of Casey Jones, he is prominent in the film, but he just doesn’t do much, in fact there are only really two scenes where we get to see him act like we expect Casey Jones to act. They are both pretty good and they have good incorporation of Casey Jones Hockey moves and his training in Martial Arts and I’m not really a fan of the fact that he has gone from a street vigilante to a disgruntled Police Officer.
I’m probably making it sound like I absolutely hated this film, I can’t really say that, it’s a bad film, but I genuinely felt like this one at least had some effort put into it. Sadly there are a couple of areas where this whole thing falls down. The sense of humour is really not here, most of the jokes are really just groan inducing and that is really what drags this whole thing down on a large scale. There are, however, some legitimately entertaining lines in this film, which is more than I can say for the last one. Second of all, the climax is a much better and bigger one than the previous film, which is what a sequel should do. Overall it’s not a very good plot but it’s a decent plot nonetheless and it feels like Ninja Turtles.
As for the cast, I am not going to go into detail what my thoughts are on the returning cast since I got most of my thoughts on them in my previous review, but needless to say, the worst performances in the film are Will Arnett and especially Megan Fox who are both horribly directed and give off terrible performances. There is only one change in cast and that is that Leonardo is now voiced by Peter Ploszek instead of Johnny Knoxville and believe me, this is a much needed change since Johnny Knoxville’s voice really stuck out in the previous film. Brian Tee would make an excellent Shredder if the script gave him anything to do. Tony Shalhoub is alright at Splinter except the script gave him even less to do. Splinter is really useless in this film, he doesn’t even impart that much wisdom this time round. Stephen Amell is pretty decent initially as Casey Jones, but he really doesn’t fill the role that well and it is so difficult to separate the actor from the role, considering for the last few years I have seen him playing Oliver Queen in Arrow. If you want a good version of Casey Jones check out the Fan film online Casey Jones The Movie which is available online and if you wanted to use professional wrestlers John Morrison did a good job playing the character in Super Power Beatdown (I’ll leave a link at the bottom of the page to that one). I am not a Tyler Perry fan as you might expect and I wasn’t much of a fan on his influence in this film and I didn’t really enjoy the performances of Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly aka WWE’s Sheamus as Bebop and Rocksteady. Are there any performances I liked in this film? Yes, the actors who played the Turtles nailed it this time round. The script is much better this time and has a much better director, so as a result, the actors are given much more to do and they do a brilliant job with it. These guys can play the Turtles well and are the standout performances of the cast. Laura Linney is in there and she does a decent performance, but she isn’t given that much to do and her part is not brilliantly written, so I am not too bothered with her. Not too great of a cast, but you know what, they did a better job than they did the last time.
As for the effects, that was my biggest complaint with the last film and I will say the CGI is not much better here and I am still not a fan of the design of these Turtles. I will say that they do seem to do a better job blending the Turtles and the CGI into the live action environment than they did last time but still feels like a bit of a disconnect because the film is still heavily reliant on CGI. There are times, also, when the CGI is really poor, in fact some of their movement is really out of time or looks like it was put together at the last minute.
As for the action scenes. Most of them are pretty good although they do tend to suffer from a lot of Michael Bay tropes, for example, the camera slowing down, the occasional explosion, if you are familiar with Michael Bay’s movies, you will know what I am on about, but that being said, they do look alright and there are a couple that are pretty damm good.
Well that’s really it. I love the Shredder’s re-designed costume and Krang’s design was fantastic. How great is it that we finally have a Ninja Turtle film with Krang in it. I can’t tell you how long Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans have been waiting for this.
I saw the 2D version since the 3D in the last film was really awful, so I can only comment on the format I saw it in, other than the fact that I counted exactly 4 effects that were intended for the 3D and it possible would have been good in a particular fight scene in Brazil, other than that the 2D version is passable and I would say you will be fine seeing it this way.
I’m not going to lie, I think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows is a minor improvement on its predecessor. It’s not a good film but it’s not awful. If you are a Ninja Turtles fan and if the first film put you off I would recommend you give it a go. They get the Turtles down pretty well and there is a decent story here, if a very flawed one at that (especially when the climax rips off the climax of The Avengers). It, however, is not a great movie. The effects aren’t that great and still don’t blend too well with the live action, the actors aren’t giving great performances and the film could never seem to pick a villain and stick with it, making most of the villains feel rather wasted. Not a good film, but I expected worse.
No other films to discuss in this review because as I mentioned before I saw this film in May and held it back so I could get my review of “When Marnie Was There” out.
“So what are your thoughts on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Our Of The Shadows? Did you agree with me or not. Please leave a comment, I welcome all opinions. What are your thoughts on other Ninja Turtle movies, which have you liked or disliked?”
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Come back on 1st July, where I will be reviewing Illumination Pictures latest Animated film “The Secret Life of Pets”.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and who would have thought we would actually have something good to say about this film, man it’s been a surprising year.
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