TMNT: Out of the Shadows - The Riles Review
The first of this new series of TMNT movies that came out in 2014 was unfairly criticised on arrival. It was kind of harsh and groundless criticism at times, and it all ignored that the film was just fun. Yeah, it was incredibly goofy, but did you really expect to go into a Michael Bay-produced movie about turtles who become ninjas for some subtle filmic drama? No, I wanted to see 7-foot-tall turtles fly-kick people in the face and give me PG-13 life lessons, which is exactly what I got. Now the sequel, Out of the Shadows, has released, and it elevates everything that made the first film so good.
So evil Master Shredder is on a bus to bad guy prison when he’s sprung free. There’s only one group of mutant aquatic creatures who can grapple with him. Cue movie.
So the plot just bleeds cheese, and does so unashamedly. If fidelity to source material is important to you this movie ticks the box. It’s everything you’d want from a TMNT movie. The story is a little unoriginal and doesn’t go anywhere new, traipsing through territory already covered in sci-fi movies of the last nine or ten years. The villains and side characters are all ridiculous, and chewing scenery, regardless of whether they’ve been turned into computer-generated abominations or not. The story, I guess which is in service to the die-hard turtle fans out there, seems to include quite a lot of characters that unnecessarily overcomplicates that which is already fairly bare-bones. The film does lack some truly strong set pieces, aside from the gorgeously crafted final clash. If they’d paid as much attention choreographing some more cinematic fights, this would be a real step above the pack.
However, it’s the strength of all the characters that make it work and churn along. All the turtles are perfectly in sync and bounce off of each other marvellously. They really make the movie, and it’s their interactions that really sell the “be proud of who you are” message to kids. The special effects are quite remarkable as well. Everything looks impressive and seamlessly blends into the live-action work. The turtles all look unique, separated by much more than just the colour of a headband, and they all look like what’d you expect of real-life teenage mutant ninja turtles. The other CGI characters are great too. Stylistically and visually they’re great, but they’re also bolstered by fantastic performances.
For the CGI team, all the turtles play the right notes all the way through. They work very cohesively together, and are really funny. Mikey seems to carry most of the humour, and you’ll never get the random brilliance of the adrenaline or elevator beatbox scenes from the first film, but you do get consistent, funny lines.
Gary Anthony Williams and professional wrestler Sheamus play Bebop and Rocksteady, two of Shredder’s henchmen turned man-beasts. They are both hilarious, and their computer generated counterparts are just as strong as their live-action performances. Brad Garrett is by far the funniest of the CGI characters as Commander Krang. It was just over the top, and every line was a dig at someone, all of it was comedy gold.
For the live-action players, your returning characters are all solid, and Megan Fox provides a much more grounded and enjoyable performance. Stephen Amell is fan-favourite Casey Jones, and he can be a bit hot and cold. Sometimes he’s charismatic and funny, other times he’s doing too much self-narrating or worse, which is probably more the writers’ fault than his.
On the cheesier end, Tyler Perry is having the most fun as Dr Stockman, the mad scientist. I’ve never really enjoyed his work, but this was a game changer for him. Laura Linney is bizarrely funny as the police chief. I can’t tell if she was just cashing a paycheck or actually involving herself, but she looks constantly surprised by everything and is a funny, quite prestigious addition to the cast.
Wrapping it up...
Yeah it’s dumb, but you should sort of understand that walking into the film. If you’ve got your brain turned off you’ll love it. It’s funny and exciting, full of quirky characters that you can’t help but laugh at. You can’t go wrong when you don’t use your brain. Everyone should turn it off more often.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - 7/10