Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the sequel to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That earlier feature didn’t seem to be about the popular altered animals, being more of a generic action CGI-fest. Luckily, this new movie is a vast improvement.
The Turtles have had an interesting journey as a franchise. Eastman and Laird’s original comic strip was a dark and moody parody of ‘80s comic books, with hyper-violence and angst added to the mix for good measure. The popularity of the amphibious brothers grew like wildfire in ‘80s, and the mutants changed into something more family-friendly and relatable. This culminated in the live-action movies of the ‘90s, which featured singing, dancing and a distinct lack of martial arts violence.
Since then, subsequent versions of the Turtles have tried to balance all the various elements of the franchise. The cartoon series tend to stick to the comics, building on ideas from earlier cartoons and spin-off media. The current IDW comic book series blends the violence of the original comics with the goofy charm of the cartoons, toy range and even the movies. The 2014 movie didn’t try to do any of this; it simply attempted to emulate the same notes of Michael Bay’s successful Transformers action movie franchise, and was a huge mess.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is more of a blended approach. The movie opens with the Turtles still being outsiders. Despite saving the city of New York, they still lurk, ninja-like, in the shadows. They fear humanity and humanity returns the favour. Being teenagers though, they still want to hang out and have fun. This leads to fun scenes at the start with the Turtles sneaking in to watch a live basketball game, just like any other New Yorker, whilst also hiding. Things change when Shredder is let loose on the city yet again, this time with a scheme so outlandish that it feels like a proper piece of comic book fun. Better yet, Shredder is portrayed as the scary bad-ass villain he’s meant to be, rather than just some fool in a fancy metal suit.
The interplay between the brothers is much improved. Raphael no longer seems like a steroid-driven muscle-head, Michelangelo is genuinely funny, Leonardo takes himself too seriously, and Donnie is still a nerd first and a ninja second. Even Megan Fox’s role as April O’Neil is slightly more credible, partially because she actually does something in this movie. Stephen Amell makes a welcome debut as Casey Jones and plays a convincing vigilante. The stars of this movie, however, are Gary Anthony Williams and WWE wrestler Sheamus, who play Be-Pop and Rocksteady. The movie brings together the two elements that make them work as villains - Happy-Go-Lucky idiots who also happen to be utterly deadly murderers. Funny and fearsome in equal measure, the pair really bring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows into the light. This is a fun feature, go take a look.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: DAVE GREEN / SCREENPLAY: JOSH APPELBAUM, ANDRE NEMEC / STARRING: MEGAN FOX, WILL ARNETT, STEPHEN AMELL, NOEL FISHER, JEREMY HOWARD, PETE PLOSZEK, ALAN RITCHSON, BRIAN TEE GARY ANTHONY WILLIAMS, STEPHEN FARRELLY (AKA SHEAMUS) / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 24TH