Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review

Having been in a screening full of under 10’s who laughed, gawped and excitedly danced their way through Out of the Shadows I think I can safely say that the main demographic for the film found it a success.

There is another demographic with an interest though. Those that were there when the turtles first burst out of the sewers and into the collective consciousness. A demographic that includes me. Unfortunately it also includes many who will berate and vilify supposed attacks on their childhood. Is there anything here for them?

Out of the Shadows pulls so much from the 80’s cartoon that even jaded older fans should find something to enjoy. Add that to some very wise choices that correct some mistakes from the first film and you have a film that trounces its predecessor.

One such wise choice is Brian Tee as a far more convincing Shredder than the hastily-edited, blade covered version found in the first film. He’s played straight but it works. I just wish there was more for him to do.

Tyler Perry clearly understands what to do and goes big on his Baxter Stockman, whilst Krang is suitably deranged and slimy.

The most entertaining villains however are Bebop and Rocksteady. A fantastic match of writing, casting and visualisation, they charge through their scenes with a chemistry that really brightens up the film.

The Warthog and Rhinoceros would easily be the high-point of the film if it weren’t for the turtles themselves. It’s very easy to forget that there are actors under the much-improved CGI. The designs are far less fussy now, whilst the characterisation is spot on. The idea of family is very strong in each version of TMNT and it’s given a chance to come to the front here. Each turtle gets time to shine but Mikey steals the show. No shell-tightening this time, he’s full of heart and his facial expressions are amazingly well put together. As he’s my favourite turtle Leonardo deserves a mention too. He’s the result of another wise decision, as his physical performer Pete Ploszek takes back the voice that was incorrectly given to Johnny Knoxville in the first film. He’s all the better for it.

There’s nothing I can do with Fox’s over-sexualised April O’Neil so I’ve decided to come to peace with it. Most of the time she’s perfectly adequate. I wish they didn’t feel the need to show her off in some awful attempt at pleasing the Dads but there you go.

Finally we have Stephen Amell. It’s odd seeing him in something else as he’s fundamentally Oliver Queen in my head but his somewhat frenetic take on Casey Jones is decent. His character doesn’t follow the rule of ‘show and don’t tell’ so I wonder if there was more on the cutting room floor. Either way it’s good to see him getting a role in a big film.

It’s not an amazing film plot wise to say the least. The story relies too much on exposition to move it forward and a couple of things don’t really make sense. Fortunately it’s entertaining enough that I could let a lot of that slide. In a film where a mutant Rhino fires a tank shell at a group of Turtles riding down a fast flowing river, I think it’s fair to cut it some slack.

Out of the Shadows isn’t perfect but it does go straight in as my second best turtles film. To expect something Oscar-worthy would be ridiculous so go in with an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised. It’s a far better film than its predecessor and an entertaining watch.

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