Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Mikey's pizza

The first Michael Bay produced, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film may have been a smash at the box office, but it wasn’t quite so loved by critics or hard core shell-heads. Can a new director and a story that features cartoon favourites Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady fare any better?

With all the back-story out of the way from the previous movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is free to plunge head-first into a new adventure without wasting any time.

Shredder (Brian Tee), none the worse for wear after his fall and seemingly forgotten encounter with some mutagen at the end of the last movie, is mysteriously snatched away from an attempted prison break and finds himself face to face with the squid-like Commander Krang. The pair quickly (like ridiculously quick) decide to team up to take over the world and once the Turtles find out, it’s a race against time to stop Shredder from assembling all the pieces of a device Krang needs to travel to Earth.

Cartoon Logic


If that summary sounds somewhat breathless, then it’s nothing compared to how fast parts of the movie skip past but for once, this is actually a good thing. TMNT 2 embraces it’s comic book/cartoon roots and spends as little time as possible on unnecessary exposition, leaving a lot more room for the characters, action and humour to shine.

While I was just about young enough to enjoy the original cartoon when it aired, there were certain elements from the show that I was sure I would never see in any live-action, big budget version. Without spoiling anything, Out of the Shadows proved me wrong, as some of the most identifiable and “out there” elements of the TV show popped up, staying completely true to their roots, especially in the film’s climax.

First of these is Krang himself. Voiced by Brad Garret of Everybody Loves Raymond, Krang’s design has been updated while remaining faithful to the original and these additions, like Krang’s cranky relationship with the suit and Garett’s take on the voice, respectfully breathe new life into an old character.

Turtle Power


The turtles themselves seem a lot more well rounded this time. This could be due to their extended screen time or the less frenetic camera work that accompanies them. In their last outing, the turtles seemed to be doing something “extreme” at all times and had a tendency to shout over each other constantly. Avoiding this allows the audience to get to know the individual turtles better and even their designs seem to have been tweaked to make them more easily identifiable.

One thing the previous film did manage to get right was each Turtles character, even if everything around them was mostly wrong. Out of the Shadows continues this work, with plenty of time for Raphael to throwing temper tantrums; Leonardo to worry about his leadership skills; Donatello to tinker and fret over gadgets and for Michelangelo to make lame jokes, even if they tend to be much funnier and less annoying than before.

A subplot regarding the turtles desire to blend in with humans is handled excellently and is resolved in a way that makes perfect sense based on who the Turtles are.

Misfit Mutants

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Bebop and Rocksteady

Joining the mutant mayhem this time around are cartoon favourites Bebop and Rocksteady in what must be one of the best realisations of these characters. Despite their relative stupidity they manage to remain entertaining throughout and wrestler Sheamus (Stephen Farrelly) and Gary Anthony Williams even manage to make Bebop and Rocksteady work before they get mutated, no easy feat considering their weird costume choices.

Similarly, Tyler Perry’s Baxter Stockman is a joy every time he is on screen. From his “look” to his maniacal giggling and mannerisms, he quickly becomes one of the best things in the film.

Unfortunately, Shredder comes off a very dull one-note villain, leaving James Avery as still the best incarnation of the character.

Guest Starring…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Stephen Amell Megan Fox

For the rest of the cast, less time is spent with Megan Fox, but she seems more comfortable in the role and works as part of a greater ensemble. Will Arnett’s comedic talents are put to great use as Vernon Fenwick, and Larua Linney is a worthwhile addition to the cast as a police chief who deals with the turtles.

Less successful is Stephen Amell’s Casey Jones. Watching him on screen, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that The Arrow is somehow appearing as a guest star in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

While most of the action set pieces are well staged and entertaining, the final battle feels a little undercooked and not as satisfying as I would have liked.

A positive review could be written off as nostalgia talking. However, the majority of the humour in the film hits the mark doing so without relying on a knowledge of the previous versions, although there are also plenty of gags that tie back to the old shows for the true fans.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a great, dumb, and above all fun summer action blockbuster that embraces cartoon logic without feeling the need to dumb down too far. Like too few reboots (including its precursor) it incorporates some of the wilder elements of its source while remaining faithful and enjoyable.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows is released in Malaysian cinemas on 2nd June 2016

Starring:  Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Laura Linney, Stephen Amell, Noel Fisher,  Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Stephen Farrelly, Gary Anthony Williams, Tony Shalhoub

Directed by:  Dave Green

Official Site here.