Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - No turtle power here

Even nostalgia can’t redeem the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel

Nostalgia is a powerful redeeming power for many a failed film enterprise. Case in point, the Veronica Mars movie, which despite not being all that great managed to do incredibly well simply because legions of fans of the television show kept the flame alive. Unfortunately, nostalgia hasn’t worked for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). It didn’t work the first time round in 2014 and for some unknown reason there is a sequel. And no surprises there, nostalgia hasn’t worked this time either.

The second film, TMNT Out of the Shadows focuses on the destruction of the brothers’ arch nemesis, The Shredder who’s escaped prison and is back stronger than ever. This time round, he’s partnered with an unusually gimmicky Dr Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry). Together, they plan to use teleportation to invite an extraterrestrial invasion by Krang (Brad Garret) from Dimension X. In order to achieve his ambitious plan of “bringing humans to their knees”, Stockman develops a Retro-Mutagen which can turn humans into animals and that, kids, is how the warthog Bebop (a strikingly thin Gary Anthony Williams) and rhino Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) were born. They’re The Shredder’s muscleman, enhanced gigantic animals with little brains and even less humour. This Retro-Mutagen can also humanise our turtle heroes and forms much of the civil unrest among the four. While Raphael and Michelangelo want to blend in with the humans, Leonardo and Donatello are fine with the current status quo. If their emotional unrest was an attempt to tug at the audience’s heartstrings, newsflash – it doesn’t.

Out of the Shadows doesn’t wait to settle in before the action hits you in the face. While you’re still adjusting to the many-happenings onscreen, there’s the stiff Megan Fox as April O’Neil (the sole character to say cowabunga in this film) and a forgettable Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick. Even odder is the addition of Laura Linney as the utterly useless police chief, Rebecca Vincent.

Then there’s the introduction of vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Arnell) who comes across as a pretty face that never loses an opportunity to voice out his dream: to become a detective. Strategically located hockey sticks and rollerblades allow Jones to show off his game skills which sadly don’t impress. The character, intended to parody vigilante superheroes, appears more earnest than satirical in Out of The Shadows with his disguise of a hockey mask.

And despite trying really, really hard the camaraderie between the four protagonists fails miserably as does their brief interaction with old wise Master Splinter (Tony Shalhoub). Even evil alien, Krang is far from intimidating. He looks like a brain with tentacles and horned teeth (residing in a robot) who has the exaggerated disposition of Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls. Not even the CGI effects or the turtles hurtling across buildings and dodging weapons could stifle the yawns that forced their way halfway through the film. But there’s great use of old-school music though: Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’, Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘A Little Less Conversation’ among other gems will make you sit up ever so slightly.

I really wanted to enjoy TMNT Out of The Shadows and reminisce those school-day afternoons spent watching the heroes-in-a-half shell on television. But alas, with no turtle power, the best and most authentic part about this sequel is its animated end credits.

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 5:23:30 AM |

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