REVIEW — “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”
Thanks to its trong representation of the titular characters and a few entertaining action sequences, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a satisfying experience for young audience members and fanboys. That being said, because there are too many villains and boring human characters, as well as a generic final act, this is not a well-made film.
Strong Representation of Turtles:
This film is at its best when the titular characters are on screen. Noel Fisher’s (Battle Los Angeles) comedic timing helps make all of Michelangelo’s jokes, no matter how predictable or silly they are, effective. Jeremy Howard’s voice performance makes it convincing that Donatello is a genius. Pete Ploszek provides the voice of Leonardo, a leader desperately trying to keep his brothers unified and focused. Alan Ritchson provides the voice of Raphael, who is as stubborn and quarrelsome as ever. Thus, all four of the titular characters are all well represented. It also helps that the special effects utilized to create their characters is more convincing than in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
A Few Entertaining Action Sequences:
Director Dave Green (Earth to Echo) provides a fresh energy to the scenes featuring the titular characters and action sequences. He injects fun into this film through silly antics, such as a villain shooting a machine gun inside of a plan until the pilots abandon the cockpit and pizza causing a basketball player to slip and fall. Also, the frantic, chaotic pacing of most of the action sequences help keep this film moving along at a brisk pace. More impressively, Green frames the first few action sequences between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Foot Clan so well that the audience can sit back and laugh as the titular characters do what they do best: kick butt.
Too Many Villains:
The villains that oppose the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in this installment include:Bepop, Rocksteady, Shredder, and Commander Krang. Balancing four villains is no easy feat, but screenwriters André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum (Zoo, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) manage to fail all of their villains in one way or another.
Bepop & Rocksteady:
Even though the trailers and posters emphasized the roles of Bepop and Rocksteady, which are criminals that are transformed into a rhino and warthog, they only fight the Turtles in one action sequence. To make matters worse, director Dave Green fails to stage the fight sequence in which these characters meet in an entertaining and exciting way. Nemec and Appelbaum do not help matters by forcing action movie clichés, such as a hero that is afraid of heights and sending the heroes down a waterfall, into this film. As for the actual characters, Bepop and Rocksteady, are intentionally obnoxious and dim-witted, but they are also vexing. When one of them farts, they both laugh at each other and continue to babble uselessly. This scene is by far the best illustration of everything these characters are about.
Surprisingly, Brian Tee’s (The Wolverine) performance is so intimidating and forceful that, even though he does not don his iconic mask until late in the film, the fact that Shredder is not involved in the climactic battle is a disappointment. It is worth noting that Tee’s Shredder is a considerable improvement over Tohoru Masamune’s Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In this installment, the audience sees Shredder escaping police officers, intimidating foes, and following the orders of Commander Krang. Yet, Tee is able to make this character stand on his own above all of the other villains in this film until he is forced out of the film to make way for Commander Krang.
The main villain is none other than Commander Krang, a creepy, gross brain with a robotic body that features a plethora of weapons. Krang is given no motivation for wanting to invade and rule earth, which makes it impossible to invest in his character. The most memorable aspects of his character are his grotesque appearance and limitations: due to the design of his robotic body, his range of motion and the climactic battle between Krang and the Turtles is limited and dull. For all of these reasons, Krang is the least interesting villain in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Boring Human Characters:
Producer Michael Bay, who helmed each installment of the Transformers franchise, has spent most of the last decade of his career working on films with CGI protagonists and antagonists that are far more interesting than the human characters, who – for unknown reasons – require a great deal of screen time.
Although Megan Fox’s April O’Neil, a reporter that happens to have enough free time to go undercover whenever the Ninja Turtles require her assistance, has the most screentime of any human character, the only development for her character is that she has a crush on Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). April O’Neil is like Lois Lane in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in that the screenwriters shoehorn her into every scene that they can and more. This is particularly frustrating considering that the only reason that Fox was cast in this film was to be objectified by the director and audience as she walks around in scantily-clad outfits. Her monotonous performance is as convincing as a cat trying to bark.
Other Human Characters:
Other human characters that are dull include: Casey Jones, Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), and Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry). Casey Jones is a clichéd screw-up eager to make a difference and fight crime. Amell (Arrow) does not provide Jones with any personality other than when he is complaining, which makes this character even more forgettable than he should have been.
Will Arnett (The Lego Movie) reprises his role as Vernon Fenwick, a former reporter who took credit for the heroic actions of the Turtles in the original film and has become famous. Because Fenwick desperately tries to be cool and funny via banal dialogue and foolish actions, he is one of the most annoying characters.
In David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Tyler Perry proved that he is capable of giving excellent performances in dramatic films. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Perry’s portrayal of Stockman consists of his character saying intelligent things and expressing how he wants to be remembered, and laughing afterwards.Given that there is nothing else to this character, he becomes vexing after three minutes of screentime.
Generic Final Act:
The final act of this blockbuster involves people looking to the sky as an alien invades and threatens to take over the world. If this sounds familiar, that is because this finale was utilized more effectively in The Avengers and Man of Steel. It is also worth noting that Commander Krang is only in one scene prior to his climactic battle with the Ninja Turtles, which means that there is almost no build-up. Krang’s plan is as generic as possible, which makes the final act as tiring and underwhelming as possible. Brad Garrett’s voice performance as Krang is particularly monosyllabic and annoying. With all of this in mind, the final act is easily the weakest and least interesting part of this film.
Despite strong representation of the titular characters and a few entertaining action sequences, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows suffers from too many villains and boring human characters, as well as a generic final act.
Rating: Pg-13 for sci-fi action violence.
Runtime: 1 hour and 52 minutes.