Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) / Action-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Running Time: 112 min.
Cast: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Laura Linney, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Sheamus (Stephen Farrelly), Gary Anthony Williams, Jane Wu
Voices: Tony Shalhoub, Brad Garrett
Small role: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Eastman
Director: Dave Green
Screenplay: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec
Review published June 6, 2016
Out of the Shadows is the second film in the Michael Bay-produced reboot saga, and it's the kind of crap we all feared he would make. The first film, released in 2014, wasn't great, but it was at least better than any one of the god-awful Transformers films, but this follow-up can't make the same claim. There's even an appearance of a Transformer in the movie, a man in a Bumblebee costume, meant as a playful nod, but mostly serves as a grim reminder of who is behind the monotony we're witnessing.
In this entry, the dreaded nemesis of humanity, Shredder (Tee, Jurassic World) is broken out of prison by kooky-but-brilliant scientist Baxter Stockman (Perry, Gone Girl), who has been entrusted to invent an ultra-powerful transporter device that will allow for travel between dimensions. Also on board is the maniacal alien Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett, Planes: Fire and Rescue), who is part giant robot, part evil living brain, who sets about getting Shredder to use some strange, mutating ooze to make an army of super soldiers out of the Foot Clan, starting with the dimwitted but burly thugs Bebop (Williams, The Internship) and Rock Steady (WWE's Sheamus), who immediately turn into a Rhino-man and Warthog-man, respectively. Krang's wild scheme involves gaining the otherworldly pieces together to form a gargantuan spaceship, the Technodrome, which is so powerful that he can usurp the entire planet of Earth with it once assembled.
Leading the resistance yet again are the titular quartet of Turtles, along with ally news reporter April O'Neil (Fox, This is 40), spirited hockey-loving cop Casey Jones ("Arrow" star Amell), and Vern Fenwick (Arnett, Popstar), the smarmy cameraman who got credit for saving New York from Shredder and gang the last time around because the Turtles weren't 'ready for the world'. Meanwhile, the Turtles are conflicted about what to do about the mysterious ooze, as it not only has the power to turn humans into creatures, but also to turn the Turtles into humans, which could mean an end to them feeling like pariahs in a world where they're seen as monsters, despite their determination to be New York City's protectors.
Younger kids who are allowed to watch PG-13 levels of violence likely will already be on board with this sequel before the first frame of film ever appears on the screen, but for adults who didn't grow up watching and loving the cartoon series or the comic books (one of the creators, Kevin Eastman, gets an early cameo delivering a pizza), this will be a lot of noise and tumult of little to no interest to keep them engaged for its too-long near two-hour run time. Longtime fans fo the property may be immune to the film's ineptitude just because it re-introduces major characters into the reboot world, including faves like Casey Jones, Krang, and the muscular bromantic duo of Bebop and Rock Steady. If those mean nothing to you, and they won't if this is your first exposure, you'll leave the theater wondering what the fuss is all about, as there's little enjoyment to be found in any of these thinly developed, cartoonish personalities from what is evidenced on the screen in front of you.
Alas, it's too many uninteresting characters crammed into a plot that's too convoluted for most kids to follow, and too generic for most adults to give a lick about. Out of the Shadows is a brainless, low-grade popcorn movie spectacle that only unabashed fans will come out of the movie extoling the virtues of. Perpetually noisy, darkly shot and permeated with gloopy, unappealing CGI elements (even the pizza is CG), it's hard on the eyes, ears, and soul. I suppose it should be viewed as an unintentional irony that a movie this utterly mindless would have a brain as a bad guy.
©2016 Vince Leo