Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry
Knowing that their appearances prevent them from being accepted as they are, the four Turtle brothers still live in the sewers (i.e. shadows) while Vernon Fenwick (Arnett) takes the public credit for defeating Shredder. However, when Shredder escapes prison after joining forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Perry) and then joins forces with the powerful alien Krang, their plan for destroying the world means the brothers are forced to come out of the shadows (geddit?!?) and save the world (Well, New York – but that is essentially the same thing in movie land!). Oh and we also get Bebop, Rocksteady and Casey Jones turn up!
Consistently bad reviews have certainly never stopped the Michael Bay juggernaut from losing momentum and letting artistic integrity get in its way, and so despite the general critical panning of 2014s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it is balance sheets that matter, and the fact it made money means a sequel was always inevitable. Well, here it is, and though Out of the Shadows is a slight improvement on its predecessor (not difficult), it is still a jumbled up mess of a film that not only stomps all over the childhood memories of my generation, but really has no idea what kind of a film it wants to be.
After the first film just had Shredder (and also William Fichtner) as its antagonist, this time we are also given more of the familiar bad guys such as Krang, Baxter Stockman, Bebop and Rocksteady, as well as hockey playing good guy Casey Jones. Anyone who grew up with the first lot of cartoons like myself or the generation watching the current ones will of course be delighted by their inclusion, and it does seem that those involved know this, as judging by how badly they are all included in the plot, it seems to point to this being the sole and deeply cynical reason for their inclusion.
However writers Josh Applebaum and André Nemec show total complacency in their lack of creativity, and seem to think that as there are two generations that know all these characters well, they do not have to make too much effort in incorporating them into the plot. As much as I, and I am sure fans from both generations, want to see their inclusion, it means that no character (not even the four characters in the title) get enough screen time to develop to any level of satisfaction and all feel underused, once again meaning the film fails to maximise its potential. There is never even any attempt to explore the motivation behind the bad guy’s actions, and it renders them all very forgettable.
Though the plus side of this is that Megan Fox and her bum get less screen time compared to the first film, as she is once again utterly terrible as April O’Neil (though they still manage to fit in one unnecessarily highly perverted shot of her), but the film does feel extremely overstuffed with characters. Of course Michael Bay (serving as producer) has proved many times that he is unaware of the concept of the ‘character arc’, and arguable a decent action film can go without this, but they can also help, a lot. What is most frustrating is that there are at times hints of a little bit of character development; after all our four main characters are, as the title suggest, teenagers and therefore still on a learning curve about themselves and each other, and there are times when the film threatens to explore this potentially interesting notion. However producer Lord Michael Bay probably stepped in and said to the writers “to hell with that character development nonsense; that not only involves dialogue but may prevent things from being blown up at least every five minutes!”
As for the script that we do have, well that brings me to the other main problem with Out of the Shadows; it cannot seem to figure out what demographic it is trying to appeal to. The general humour and plotting would suggest that they want to appeal to teenagers, but then the ones that are most familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja/ Hero Turtles are surely the generations that are before and after that. Well the film is too violent and mildly sweary for young children below 10 and way too stupid and shoddily put together for the older generation. While the attempts at ‘humour’ are more cringe inducing than actually funny.
As for the plot, well it is basically a well-known story from my personal generation of cartoons and the main plot of Transformers 3, but it isn’t particularly well put together and therefore not only feels like a distraction and footnote amongst the abundance of characters, but never brings any feelings of genuine danger or threat, despite apparently the entire world being in danger.
The CGI has inevitably been given an upgrade and looks good, but the dizzying camerawork and nauseating editing make the whole experience while watching on the big screen migraine inducing at times, with it impossible to really know what is going in some action sequences.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is by no means a terrible film, and its breakneck pace and overstuffing of characters does mean that it is never boring (even if it sometimes impossible to know exactly what is going on or why). It is likely to appeal to teenagers, and just about be watchable for the rest of us, but, though an improvement on its predecessor, is such a hideous waste of potential.
A slight improvement on its predecessor, but with its excessive abundance of characters lazily included, a forgettable plot and attempts at humour that consistently fail, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Out of the Shadows is just nowhere near as entertaining as it should have been.