REVIEW: 'TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS' IS SHALLOW AND JOYLESS
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows should have been good. TMNT 2 should have built on the successes of the first movie and given us a sense of fun, comedy and the unique bond between four brothers as they attempt to conquer evil. Instead, Dave Green's film is more of the same we saw last year.
Last film's romp was fun and it skillfully introduced us to these huge, powerful turtles who still act like teenage boys. But TMNT 2 is so scared of exploring its deeper themes of prejudice and brotherhood rivalry that the kids won't see this movie as anything more than an action soaked, catchphrase bonanza. Dave Green is under the impression that bigger action can excuse his fear of exploring deeper and far more telling social issues, but it falls flat.
In Out of the Shadows, Will Arnett has single-handedly taken credit for defeating the Shredder. The Turtles had made an agreement with him, that the public cannot know that the Turtles were responsible for saving the city. And of course, Michelangelo is all too eager to walk around and play with humans. He's sick of hiding and that forms the central conflict between the brothers as they struggle to accept what they are. In the meantime, the Shredder returns with Tyler Perry as your stereotypical mad scientist, making Bebop and Rocksteady. Funny thing though, the Shredder is just a pawn for Kraang, so yeah, upping the stakes because we have to I suppose.
On top of it all, TMNT 2 is not funny or fun. In the whole movie, the kids maybe laughed up to five times and little more than that. TMNT 2 is perfectly fine with being a 'kids' movie, but it doesn't service the kids. It doesn't please anyone beyond showing us action set pieces and special effects that look good.
And this movie does look good, the effects have always been exceptional in bringing this rendition of the turtles to the big screen. What I can't forgive is how shallow and meaningless TMNT 2 is.
When the Turtles are confronted with a dilemma that may allow them to walk the streets in the daylight, Leonardo and Raphael are obviously on opposing sides of the spectrum. This would be an exciting rift for the turtles, except that this exact thing happened int he first film. And just when the Turtles have to overcome their differences and destroy evil, there is a brief moment of exploration into the dynamics of the brothers' relationship. But Green is too eager to move on to setting up the next set piece.
The stakes of world domination and the hunt for each piece of the puzzle is tiresome. It's literally a journey of let's find the three pieces of the puzzle to complete this great thing to destroy the world. The events are boring and they have no meaning to them. If Green added an inch of emotional depth to this movie, maybe it would have actually worked and given me a chance to walk out with something to think about.
Surprisingly, TMNT 2 is remarkable faithful to the television series many of us grew up with. The film is childish, with mad villains and crazy catchphrases done to death like "My Man." Every character is a live action counterpart of their animated version, and yet audiences are smarter than they were 20 years ago. We need more than crap jokes and action, we need heart. Nobody cares about story until the emotional stakes and the goals of our characters become clear. It's Writing 101, but we still take young children for idiots.
At the end of the day TMNT 2 is the same as the first film. Dave Green doesn't attempt to improve on what worked well, but he does cater to the fans of the beloved television series - sadly forgetting that where we are now is light-years away from where we were 20 years ago.
PLAYBACK RATING: 5/10