** out of 5
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Article first published at TheReelPlace.com
Considering how bad Michael Bay’s first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offering was, there was no way the sequel could be worse, right? Breathe a sigh of relief Turtles fans, as Out of the Shadows provides a huge step in the right direction for the franchise. Now let’s be honest. Is it a good movie? Absolutely not. But considering every fan left scorned in 2014 — despite a $493 million worldwide box office haul — fans weren’t exactly clamoring for further half-shell adventures. At least not from Bay. With the exclusion of the first film’s director, Dave Green (Earth to Echo) has stepped up to deliver what fans wanted, even if it still winds up falling short of being anything more than a two-hour exercise in watching paint dry.
Our favorite ninjas are back — Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), and Raphael (Alan Ritchson) — and still living in the shadows of New York City. After defeating Shredder (Brian Tee) from destroying the Big Apple, brilliant scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) has discovered a way to open a portal leading to another dimension. After Stockman breaks Shredder out of prison during a transfer, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) vows to find out who’s behind it. Meanwhile, the turtles continue to use April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) as their eyes on the street, uncovering a plot to turn humans into animals — starting with Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly). Now, our four heroes in a half shell must once again save the city, with Shredder unleashing the maniacal Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett) from wreaking havoc from Dimension X with his Technodrome.
If all this sounds too good to be true, at least we get everything we want regarding characters. However, the screenplay by returning writers Josh Applebaum and André Nemec is still every bit as dopey as what they delivered the first time around. You’d never know these two were also responsible for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol or Alias. It doesn’t help that the visual effects still aren’t up to snuff and it causes a disconnect when you never believe you’re watching live action Ninja Turtles. CGI has come a long way from the days of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, but never once do you feel like you’re looking at live-action versions of any of our beloved characters. They always look like something out of a computer.
Needless to say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is never exciting enough, never funny enough, and never engaging enough to make it good enough. It’s a film that you simply watch. Disinterested, but at least unoffended. There will obviously be a third film on the horizon and who knows, maybe third time’s the charm. This version of the franchise is at least getting better with each film as opposed to the original trilogy. Fingers crossed they can finally deliver the film they think they’ve made. But for now, it’s all close, but no cigar.