What’s old is new again, that’s a motto many film directors and studios bank on, and were talking millions and millions of dollars’ worth of banking. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been around since the 80’s, appearing in numerous iterations from cartoon shows, live movies, CGI animated movies and comic books. 2014 brought a new Turtles movie that met with some mixed reactions, but successful enough for a sequel to crawl out from under the sewers of Nickelodeon studios. Dave Green (director of “Earth to Echo”) promised this film would pay tribute to Turtles fans of all ages by bringing elements and characters fans have wanted to see for years. As for the result, well you’re about to find out as you look below.
After the Turtles defeated Shredder (this time played by Brian Tee) in the previous film, they continue to work in the shadows since the people of New York couldn’t handle seeing 4 large talking turtles without freaking out. After April O’Neil (Megan Fox) discovers a connection to mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) attempting to break out Shredder, she gets some unexpected help from cop-turned-vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). Shredder recruits two thugs named Rocksteady and Bebop (Sheamus and Gary Anthony Williams) who he turns into mutants, and plans to use them to stop the turtles so he can complete his mad dream of world conquest with his new interdimensional partner; Krang (Brad Garrett).
While the first film was adequate, it definitely was lacking something and according to “Out of the Shadows”, it was lacking nostalgia…because this movie has BOAT LOADS of it. If you loved the 80’s cartoon or even watched a single episode of it, you will be miles ahead of most movie goers as this film seems specifically designed to cater just to you. Krang, Baxter, Bebop and Rocksteady are characters many have expected to see on the big screen since the original Turtles movie back in 1990. This film puts the fans in the driver’s seat and gives them exactly what they want and, I have to admit, even if I wasn’t a Turtles fan; I’d be hard pressed not having a good time while watching this film. It’s explosive, it’s bombastic, but most importantly: it’s pure Turtles.
Leo, Donnie, Raph and Mikey are center stage (and deservedly so) and they’re interactions and personalities finally help offset the unsettling design of their appearances…mostly. It’s still satisfying to see them in the driver’s seat more so than April O’Neil, who doesn’t kick as much ass as she surprisingly did in the last film. Megan Fox seems to have fallen back into her “use sex appeal for everything” routine and it makes her come off as average at best. “Arrow” star Stephen Amell brings a more serious, intelligent edge to the hockey vigilante, though sadly he doesn’t get quite enough elbow room to really shine. However, most of the screen time is taken up by the multiple new villains were bombarded with; this is a good thing and a bad thing.
For one thing, it’s nice seeing some new blood besides just using Shredder over and over again. Tyler Perry gives an odd but amusing take on Stockman (fingers crosses for a fly transformation if there’s a sequel, Turtle fans know what I mean). Rocksteady and Bebop are the two baddies fans have been chomping at the bit to see and they’re hopes have not been dashed. These guys were a riot; they were stupid, fun, provided excellent action sequences battling it out with the Turtles (most notably a fight in a Brazilian river) and they were just as moronically unforgettable as their cartoon counterparts. They’re villains you don’t need to hate to love; you just love ‘em. The bad news though is after all the controversy and recasting with Shredder and the first half of the movie reminding us what a big bad he really is…he really doesn’t do much.
Shredder is sidelined to the point that by the time he dons his mask and blades…it’s already over for him. Again, it’s good since the other villains deserve more time since this is their first appearance and Shredder’s 5th, but his involvement just feels poorly handled. Krang looks great; however Garret’s signature voice does not match this character’s design. Again, his involvement in the film feels poorly handled. Overall, “Out of the Shadows” is more fun than failure.
This is the kind of sequel I was hoping would come after the indifference I experienced with the last Turtles film. Not everyone is used properly but the casting choices (aside from Krang) were spot on, and they all worked what wonders they could with the time they had in this already overcrowded screen. It was a blast to see Bebop and Rocksteady, the Turtles feel like themselves again and I felt like such a kid again seeing so many wonderful nods and winks to us 80’s Turtles fans. This sequel easily trumps the first and works as a mega crowd pleaser for fans and movie goers of all ages, even with the cracks along its shell.