Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Posted by Joel Copling on June 2, 2016

It seems as if a certain producer's involvement with 2014's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" painted an easy target on its back, inspiring many to resist it. This particular critic quite enjoyed its goofy charms, so the underwhelming nature of its sequel (the first, one supposes, of several that are likely to be made) may not translate for most. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" spins its wheels for nearly two hours, screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec barely providing the heroes of its surtitle a reason for being here and failing to provide a coherent subplot for its human heroes, whose lack of consequence is amplified this time around. This really is about those turtles, who, one will recall, were the byproduct a failed experiment co-anchored by a very bad man.

They have since gone underground, and a year after they (presumably) defeated their nemesis Shredder (Brian Tee), a new threat arises in the form of the very chemical solution that transformed the traditional turtles they used to be before morphing into the off-kilter, anthropomorphic creations named after Renaissance painters and performed by way of motion-capture technology. Leonardo (Pete Ploszek) is the leader, Raphael (Alan Ritchson) is the muscle, Donatello (Jeremy Howard) is the brains, and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) is, well, not the brains (Their leader Splinter, played by Peter D. Badalementi and voiced by Tony Shalhoub, barely functions in the bare plot, but he shows up, too). The solution is stolen by Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), a scientist in league with Shredder and Krang (voice of a game Brad Garrett), an extra-dimensional, sentient, tentacled brain creature housed in an artificially intelligent robot.

The human characters from the first film return, but April O'Neil (Megan Fox), the go-getting reporter who was easily the protagonist before is a distant supporting character, and the actress looks bored by comparison (which must have been a feat, considering Fox has been vocal about her love for the characters in their previous iterations, which have variously included television series, an animated film, and a live-action trilogy starring actors in suits and makeup). Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), meanwhile, is saddled with a subplot that sees him taking credit for Shredder's initial defeat as part of an agreement with the foursome. They all look uncomfortable about being here, so the minimal charm that holds the film together lies in the turtles themselves, once again played by actors who are up to the task of serving up nostalgia.

The plot sees our human and half-shelled heroes teaming up with the New York Police Department--represented by the Chief of Police (Laura Linney, for some reason) and a fired corrections officer named Casey Jones (Stephen Amell)--to take down the trio of villains, who themselves have teamed up with a pair of off-putting convicts, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus), who are turned into human/animal hybrids. The Big Apple is once again threatened, this time by way of a spaceship being assembled by way of a time-space portal that will be able to destroy the world. It's muddled and confused, and the resulting climactic action setpiece pales in comparison to a fun one that pits mutants against mutants among the rapids of the Amazon rainforest. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" is never particularly insulting to the senses under the competent direction of Dave Green, but as a whole, it's the sum of a spare few ramshackle parts.

Film Information

Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Megan Fox (April O'Neil), Stephen Amell (Casey Jones), Will Arnett (Vernon Fenwick), Gary Anthony Williams (Bebop), Sheamus (Rocksteady), Brian Tee (Shredder), Tyler Perry (Baxter Stockman), Laura Linney (Chief Vincent), Peter D. Badalementi (Splinter).

Featuring the voices of Tony Shalhoub (Splinter) and Brad Garrett (Krang).

Directed by Dave Green and written by Josh Appelbauma and Andre Nemec.

Rated PG-13 (sci-fi action violence).

112 minutes.

Released on June 3, 2016.