Let me get this out of the way early: I’m not the biggest fan of any of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchises. I’m familiar with the 80’s cartoon series. I mean, what kid growing up in the 80’s didn’t know who the Heroes in a Half Shell were. But I never really cared for the comedy action, the animation style the show had nor the silly stories they had. I do like the other versions of the Turtles, like the original live-action movie and the 2001 reboot. But, overall, I would call myself a casual fan of the Heroes in a Half Shell.
Now, since I don’t have any strong feelings to any of the early version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think this gives me an opportunity to watch the new Michael Bay produced movies based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I do contend their first try was a mess… but it wasn’t a disaster. Still, that doesn’t mean the sequel, which is already showing in the Philippines will be bad, right? Well, I decided to watch the film just to see if they learned their lessons from their first try!
By the way, as with most of the reviews here for new films, this will be a SPOILER FREE review! So, read on, dear reader, without the fear of getting spoiled with the details!
Anyway, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows takes place a couple of years after the events of the first film. Shredder has been arrested and the Turtles, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are still in hiding and no one, save April O’Neil and Vern have any idea that it was the Heroes in the Half Shell that saved New York. However, Shredder manages to break out of prison and allies himself with Krang, an being from another dimension, to take over the world. It’s now up to the Turtles crew and their new ally, corrections officer and hockey enthusiast Casey Jones to put a stop to their plans.
Honestly, if I were to sum up the film, I’d say I had a good time. It wasn’t a particularly awesome movie and not a particularly memorable one, however. It’s a mixed bag of some good action sequences and kind of humorous scenes with a truly nonsensical story, forgettable plot points that are supposed to show character growth and jokes that will have to groaning in pain.
Let’s talk about the good points of Out of the Shadows. The action is actually pretty good. Most of the fight scenes are very entertaining and definitely not boring. Much more than the first film, TMNT2 seems to have a lot of fight scenes that work well. While a lot of them don’t really have to do with kung-fu action, which can be a little disappointing, a lot of them do look fantastic. Maybe because they were all in focus and they never tried to hide the lack of action with “shaky cam,” which definitely shows they have a lot of confidence with what they’re putting on screen.
Speaking of putting things on screen, I can’t figure out how, but I think the Turtles actually look a lot better than the first movie. I can’t put my finger on exactly what changes they did with the character models. The best way I can describe them is that, well, the Turtles don’t look like monsters anymore. The first movie made them look like hulking brutes and nearly indestructible blobs of greenish muscle. But this time around, they actually look like flesh and blood… reptile flesh and cold blood, that is.
The humor is also a lot better this time around. A lot of the comedy bits in the first film felt forced and just bad. Out of the Shadows’ jokes felt a little bit more organic and fit well. Oddly enough, a lot of the jokes that did work didn’t come from Michelangelo but from Bebop and Rocksteady. Still, a good majority of them didn’t really work, though. But there were enough that did work on some level with me. It was never “laugh out loud funny” but they weren’t painfully bad as well.
The acting was, in most part, serviceable. No one was particularly annoying; I was totally expecting Tyler Perry’s rendition of Baxter Stockman to be like a very annoying Eddie Murphy playing The Nutty Professor but, honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Still, no one’s getting an Oscar for their performances, either. Actually, for some strange reason, I have to say the acting from the motion capture creatures, that would be the Turtles as well as Bebop and Rocksteady displayed better acting chops than the real people!
Steven Amell’s version of Casey Jones was okay but I couldn’t help but see Oliver Queen, the character he portrays in Arrow, since he pretty much acted the same way he does on the hit CW superhero show! I will give a pass on Megan Fox’s April O’Neil because… I still have a huge crush on her. Oh, her acting is still pretty wooden but, when you’re that pretty and hot, you can get away with a lot! And, yes, I am a pig… a pig that still has the hots for Megan Fox! If you’re reading this, I’m also available, Megan Fox! Call me!
Now, this isn’t something I really talk about that much whenever I review a movie but I really feel I have to talk about the movie’s soundtrack because it’s awful. The music isn’t bad but none of the songs really fit what’s happening on screen. They use a lot of overly dramatic music when a more upbeat rock song would be better. They also try to toss in a few 80’s tunes, which made it feel like they were deliberately ripping off Guardians of the Galaxy! It doesn’t sound terrible; the music just sounds very out of place. On a side note, the credits says Ninja Rap is in the film. I didn’t hear it but maybe I just missed it. I think another Vanilla Ice song was in there but I don’t recall hearing Ninja Rap, though.
There are a lot of bad things in the film, though. Like I said, a lot of the humor does fall flat on its face and the acting isn’t that good. But the worst thing about Out of the Shadows is the plot. At some points, it’s overly convoluted and other times, they glossed over plot points that would’ve made the film seem more cohesive.
The writers tried to interject a lot of character growth for each of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but they never focused on it at length so it seemed useless to the overall story. The entire Shredder and Krang partnership just came out of nowhere. It’s like the writers felt compelled to add a lot of elements to Out of the Shadows but failed to actually find a way to tie them all together. It’s probably the most disappointing thing about the movie. But it has Megan Fox in it looking all fine, at least.
With that being said, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows is just average. It’s one of those movies where you have to really turn off your brain or pretend you’re an 8-year old kid watching a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film with a lot of cool action sequences and dumb jokes. If you’re the type of guy that screams “Turtle Power” and “Cowabunga” at random, I’m almost positive you’ll be miffed watching this film.
It’s not terrible but it’s not all that good, either. As such, I can’t really recommend this film wholeheartedly but, if you’re willing to ignore the nonsensical plot and fully accept the mostly lame humor, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would still be a good time.
Have you seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows? What did you think of the film? Let me know in the comments section below!