Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (12a)
Directed by: Dave Green
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett & Tyler Perry
Running time: 1hr 52mins
Ok, before I start, this review is a real case of Jekyl and Hyde. Because, honestly, the movie is terrible but – stick with me here – I really, really liked it.
Well, as a standalone movie, it’s pretty poor. The plot is just about there. The characters – apart from the Turtles themselves and maybe Casey Jones – are, ahem, cartoon characters.
It’s dumb and really stupid in places.
If, like me, you grew up in the 1990s and loved the original Teenage Mutant Ninja (Hero in the UK, remember that?!) Turtles, then this may well be the movie for you.
The first movie in this new series was heavily criticised for being many things, but one of them was not really being true to the animated series (this is not a movie based on the original Eastman and Laird comics. At all) and even I, who liked the first movie, have to admit that the changes to the characters’ origins were just pointless.
However this time out, the very opposite is true.
It’s all here. Shredder, Casey Jones, Krang (oh, my god, they have Krang in the movie!), the turtles, April, Bebob and Rocksteady are all present and correct and all are handled perfectly.
While the movie is full of great action scenes, the plot isn’t terribly complicated. Shredder is being transferred to prison by two prison guards, one of which is Casey Jones – a surprisingly fun and goofy Stephen Amell, who really puts the fun into the character. While in transit, the transfer goes awry thanks to Shredder’s Foot soldiers plus two (human) prisoners called Bebop and Rocksteady. The Turtles come to the rescue and pretty soon we’re deep in Dimension X where we meet Krang who wants to come and conquer the earth because reasons.
And it really moves that fast. The pacing and editing are an issue – seriously, Batman V Superman, Civil War, X-Men: Apocalyse and now this! – but honestly it all moves so fast that no-one notices.
While all this is happening, Green handles most of the action admirably and full marks to the effects team who have made the Turtles completely faithful to their cartoon counterparts through character and wonderfully expressive effects work, these guys feel real in a way that was just missing last time.
Bebop and Rocksteady, once they become the Rhino and Warthog we all know and love, steal the show with their goofy idiocy but I can understand why many will find them annoying, but if you remember them fondly from the good old days, you’ll like them here.
Standout too is Amell as Casey Jones. I really liked him here… he’s just the right amount of silly fun to pull off such a crazy character and he’s relishing playing the fall guy who keeps smiling, compared to the dark and serious Oliver Queen/Arrow. We hope we’ll see more of this Amell on the small screen as Green Arrow progresses.
Perry’s Baxter Stockman too holds his own, channeling just the right amount of over the top to make the character fit in. Megan Fox is a more confident and likeable April O’Neill this time out too.
That’s not, however, to say everyone is treated well. Shredder is at best a Foot (ahem) note in the story. He seems to exist only to tell Bebop and Rocksteady what to do so the Turtles can chase them and have fancy battles. Krang too is given far too little screen time – though the Technodrome is a treat and has one particular feature that made 12-year-old me giddy.
That said, the movie is pretty packed – again, a complaint all the big superhero movies this year so far have suffered – and everyone has at least a few chances to shine and it practically ends on a ‘I’ll get you next time, Gadget!’ moment, so it’s probably true to say that a third outing is on the way.
But for all the things the Turtles fan in me loved, there were many things that the movie fan in me didn’t. Some of the action scenes suffered from Transformeritis in that it was hard to get your eyes to keep up and to work out what was happening. The plot was flimsy and little was explained and there were plot holes that the Technodrome itself could fit through – em, Shredder wasn’t caught at the end of the first movie? – so this movie will not win over any new fans and may even lose some of the fans that aren’t as old as myself.
All that aside, I really liked this movie as a fan of the old series. And, through my sheer enjoyment, I can’t rag on it.
In a time when people seem happier to shout and moan and fight on social media over movies and why they weren’t as great as they should have been (in their opinion), Out of the Shadows doesn’t seem concerned about anything other than being big, silly fun.
It’s the Turtle movie I wanted when I was a little boy and, while I could easily tear it apart as an adult movie fan, I refuse to .
I had fun with it – so did my whole family – and I’ll definitely see it again.
Leave your brain with the ticket guy at the door and tell him you’ll pick it up on the way back out, grab your junk food and go have fun. Cinema can be just that sometimes.
4 out of 5 Nerds (as an overgrown fan)