2 out of 5 stars (has some good moments, but is overall bad)
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is a surprising (if only minor) improvement over its 2014 predecessor. The tone is light, the turtles are more fun, and the characters frequently point out the ridiculousness of their situations (at one point, a Knicks player comments on having pizza on his Nikes). The sexualization of April O’Neil has also been toned down (sorry Megan Fox fanboys), and the story is more turtle-centered. Some good songs also appear. Unfortunately, the praises end there.
The “story” this time involves the Heroes in a Half Shell once again attempting to stop the evil Shredder (this time played by Brian Tee) from, and listen to this, opening a portal so that an alien named Krang (voiced by an unrecognizable Brad Garrett) can come and rule the earth. It doesn’t help that Shredder has turned petty thugs Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and wrestler Sheamus) into a mutant rhino and warthog to stand in their way. Now, the brothers must defeat their new enemy with the help of human friends April O’Neil, Vern (a forgettable Will Arnett), and cop Casey Jones (Stephen Amell, known for TV’s “Arrow”) and save the world once again.
This movie knows how dumb it is and has an appropriately light and kid-friendly atmosphere. My theater did not have any children in it, but I presume they would enjoy the banter between the turtles as well as Bebop and Rocksteady’s antics. That does not make it a “good” kids’ movie by any means, but they will enjoy the action and ridiculousness of the proceedings.
I found the action and performances to be rather forgettable here. There is one decent sequence involving a plane over Brazil, and Laura Linney is decent as a policewoman, but everything else is either “meh” or laughably bad. The latter is especially true for Stephen Amell, who shows none of his dramatic abilities in his thankless role. I won’t blame it all on him, as the script gives him absolutely nothing to do. The same goes for a “Nutty Professor-esque” Tyler Perry playing a scientist who helps Shredder turn Bebop and Rocksteady into monsters. The entire film seems to be going through the motions with very little personality or flair put in. However, to end on a positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed the placements of the songs “War”, “Ice Ice Baby”, and even “A Little Less Conversation.”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” should entertain die-hard fans and the 10-12 year-old demographic (I don’t say younger due to some unnecessary profanity and freaky images), but for everyone else, I would suggest going shopping for a couple of hours and then picking them up. While it isn’t the worst kids’ film I’ve seen this summer( “Angry Birds” has that honor), I think it may be time for these turtles to retreat back into the shadows.
Rated PG-13 for Sci-Fi Action Violence