It seems like there are always going to be people that enjoy jumping over a film like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows. See this franchise finds itself in a strange predicament. The first film was pretty much considered ‘average’ by critics (not this one… I loved it) but seemed to be well received by fans of the turtles themselves. Having grown up not only watching the turtles religiously but also being surrounded by a tonne of turtle merchandise I was one of those that adored Jonathan Liebesman’s fresh new take on the classic… and now I’m here to say that the new film is better than the first.
This time around we find the turtles, Michelangelo (Noel Fisher – Red), Donatello (Jeremy Howard – Men In Black II), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek – Teen Wolf) and Raphael (Alan Ritchson – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) still living in the shadows. They hide from New Yorkers and instead allow former cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett – Despicable Me) take all the credit for saving the city.
The turtles are soon forced from their life of eating pizza and watching the Knicks though when intrepid reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox – Transformers) discovers that respected scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry – A Madea Christmas) has hatched a plan to not only free the evil Shredder (Brian Tee – Jurassic World) but will once again give him enough power to take over the world. That plan soon leads to Shredder teeing up with cruel alien Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett –Everybody Loves Raymond) and taking control of two very tough, if not very dumb, henchmen (or should that be henchanimals) Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams – The Internship) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly – The Escapist).
Not to be out-numbered the turtles find a new allie (and April a love interest) in the form of determined prison guard Casey Jones (Stephen Amell – Arrow) who plans on putting Bebop and Rocksteady behind bars and in turn show Police Chief Vincent (Laura Linney – Mystic River) that he is more than capable of becoming a Police Detective.
Director Dave Green (Earth To Echo) hasn’t just made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows bigger and better than the original film he has also done something much more special and that is capture the magic of the original television series that made fans of the turtles fall in love with these tough mutants in the first place. Sure the fact that the screenwriters have introduced old favourites like Krang, Casey Jones, Bebop and Rocksteady into the franchise goes some of the way to re-create that magic but a lot of the credit must also be paid to Green who is in the difficult position of having to make this film appeal to people of all ages.
While some directors have to make a film appeal to both children and their parents Green is faced with the even harder task of having to make this film likable to two generations of turtles’ fans. LikeThe Simpsons the turtles have been long enough to be loved by people in their mid-30s and then right down to young children. Hence, a real problem for any filmmaker brave enough to take on directing in this franchise. While critics may want this film to be as dark as Christopher Nolan’sBatman trilogy realistically that is never going to work. You can’t have an actor playing a Heath Ledger Joker like bad guy when you’ve got small children involved. No instead Green does the right thing and has Tyler Perry over-act his role of Baxter Stockman and making it a little ‘lighter’ for younger eyes. The fact that the film works on all of these levels just shows that Green is an director to watch in the future.
Green and his screenwriters are also smart enough to know not to change too much in the Turtles universe as well. The newbies here, Casey Jones, Rocksteady, Krang and Bebop are pretty much the same as they were in the original series… with a very modern tweaks. Then there is the action, again Green goes back to what fans of the series know and love, there is a huge element of danger to New York but the fight scenes never last too long and unlike so many films these days aren’t just a flurry of movement. Even the trademark Turtle moral is there as the film reminds kids that just because they are different to everybody else they are still important.
Acting wise you got what you would expect from a film like this. Megan Fox does her usual ‘pretty girl’ thing while Tyler Perry, Will Arnett, Stephen Farrelly and Gary Anthony Williams provide enough comedic relief to keep everybody happy. And while Laura Linney does look a little lost at what she is doing in an action blockbuster like this Stephen Amell does provide a real breath of fresh air into the genre. Amell looks like he was born to play Casey Jones and seems to love being given the opportunity to play one of the turtles’ universes’ most popular characters. He has shown in TV’s ‘Arrow’ that he is a decent actor and once again Amell impresses.
Once again I suspect some critics won’t be as impressed with this film as much as I am but I like to give credit where credit is due. As a massive fan of the turtles I give ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows’ a huge thumbs up.