Release Date: June 3, 2016
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: David Green
Release Format: Theatrical
In 2014, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was rebooted for a new generation. While the first film was meant for the newer fans (the kids) of the cartoon on Nickelodeon, there was some hope that fans of the originals will like it as well. That didn’t happen, causing bad reviews from critics and fans alike. Despite all that, it did well enough at the box-office to warrant a sequel, which brought on some groans from even the ones that the movie was aimed at. Surprisingly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is one of those times where the sequel improved on the first film in almost every way. Think G.I. Joe Retaliation (another film from Paramount) and how that was a lot better than the first one. You can then get an idea of what to expect in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
The story in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows picks up a few short months after the events of the first film. While on his way being transferred to another prison, Shredder (this time played by Brian Tee) is broken out with Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly, WWE’s Sheamus) in tow to gain more power with the help of Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry). The more the Turtles dig to uncover Shredder’s plan, a bigger conspiracy takes form, leading them to an evil alien leader named Krang (Brad Garrett). As far as stories go when it comes to a Ninja Turtles movie, TMNT 2 is pretty fun, albeit predictable.
Even though TMNT 2’s story is a huge improvement from the previous entry, the biggest flaw is the pacing. 2016 looks to be the year when movies cram so much story in 2 – 2 ½ hours. It isn’t that the movie is cramming so many different stories in one movie, it is that the story is too big. Think of it this way: earlier this year Batman v Superman had 3-5 stories in one movie compared to TMNT 2 which has like one giant story going on at once, not including subplots, but so much so that it is too big for its own good. The nods to previous films and the cartoons as well as the character development make up for that, but it still hurts the overall experience. It is quite jarring at times. Despite all the pacing problems, I can’t wait to see what they do next. TMNT 2’s story does help bring some faith back into the franchise.
On the other hand, one of the best things about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’s story is its characters, particularly the villains. Bebop and Rocksteady, as well as Baxter Stockman (more on him in a bit), are sure to be fan favorites. They aren’t just dumb goons like the 1980s movies, but more in line with the cartoon where they bring a ton of humor and are likable. With the Turtles on screen, Bebop and Rocksteady shine even more. Shredder is also more in line with the classic look (also with a new actor) and surprisingly, Krang fits into an already crammed movie with Casey Jones also being introduced. Speaking of Casey Jones, the April O’Niel relationship dynamic doesn’t have much development, but it could flourish in future films.
The Turtles are also less basic cliché characters this time around. They have more development and it is actually believable that they are brothers. Unfortunately, the downside for all these characters is that there is so little screen time for each one, the exception being the Turtles. I found it disappointing that a lot of the villains didn’t have much time on screen, but at the same time found peace knowing they will be back in future films.
One thing that makes the characters work so well is the acting. Now many might scoff that Tyler Perry is playing Baxter Stockman for instance. Don’t count him out. He seems to be born to play the role, even seeming like he had fun playing it himself. I’m going to say this and it might turn some heads, Perry, as Stockman is one of the best casting decisions made for this movie, let alone the franchise. Of course, there are the bigger characters such as Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. Brian Tee takes over as Shredder and it is a shame he also had little screentime. Gary Anthony Williams and WWE’s Sheamus were great as Bebop and Rocksteady, while Brad Garrett voicing Krang was a huge surprise. Who knew Garrett could have a lighter guttural voice to fit Krang?
Stephen Amell as Casey Jones was another great introduction, but like most of the other characters, he doesn’t have much screen time. Amell was good, but not great. Megan Fox and Will Arnett are back as well, while Arnett still knows how to bring some laughs. The Turtles voice acting was alright, but nothing special.
Besides the pacing issues, the only other downside is the use of CGI. I found it to be a bit jarring, especially when all the characters on screen were CGI; add the special effects to the mix. There are some exceptions to the use of CGI. When there are human characters on screen with CGI characters, it is quite interesting to see that they fit together pretty well. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was the nice mix of CGI and human characters, as well as practical effects. Another thing worth mentioning: if when trying to decide if you want to see the movie in 3D or not, I recommend not going with 3D. The 3D doesn’t bring anything to the table, but it doesn’t take away from the experience either. It does enhance the CGI though, so if the CGI will be a problem for you, definitely don’t go with 3D.
Overall I found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows to be a huge improvement from the first film. Even though there are some things that need to be worked on, I cannot wait to see what happens next in future films, and I think you will too. Faith in the franchise has finally been restored… For now.
- Characters: Newer characters have limited screentime, but are the standouts. Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, Casey Jones, and Baxter Stockman are some of the best parts of this movie. Characters such as Shredder, April, and the Turtles are a lot more fun and likable this time around.
- Cinematography: Nothing special to talk about here. The CGI sometimes makes things jarring and the 3D, though not used as a gimmick, doesn’t really bring much to the table.
- Story: A predictable yet simple story that is enjoyable all things considering. Fans of the 1980s cartoon and movies will enjoy it more compared to the previous film. Don’t go in expecting a mind-bending story. Pacing will be a huge problem for some.
- Acting: First off, Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman is possibly the best casting decisions to be made for this movie. Brian Tee is amazing taking over as Shredder and Brad Garret is surprisingly good as Krang (who would have thought?). Stephen Amell fits well in the role of Casey Jones.
- Bebop and Rocksteady
- Tyler Perry
- Improves on the first film
- Something fans of the original movies and cartoon can enjoy
- CGI is a bit jarring
- Pacing issues
- Limited screen time for new characters and villains
- Predictable and sometimes unoriginal story