Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)

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 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is directed by Dave Green (Earth to Echo) and is the sequel to the hit 2014 film. The film stars Megan Fox (Transformers, Jennifer's Body), Stephen Amell (Arrow) and features the voices of Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher and Alan Ritchson. This time, "The Turtles return to save the city from a dangerous threat". The first Ninja Turtles was released in late summer 2014 and this one has been released in early summer 2016 - this film was made in less than 2 years - is it a rushed job or does it improve on its predecessor?

I would say I was in the minority for the first film - I skipped it when it was in cinemas but caught it later down the line and I actually liked it - it was a really fun film. I don't know whether that was because I had rock bottom expectations but I have fond memories of the film. I have to say, I am in a similar boat once again with Out of the Shadows - it is definitely a flawed film and I would understand any criticisms it gets but I just find something really fun and likeable about these characters and films. I think we have our first dumb but fun film of the summer!

Even though I ended up generally liking this film, I was incredibly worried to begin with as the first act was extremely poor. It just felt a little too silly and a little too dumb - it was very childish. I don't know what made the film feel of a very poor quality to begin with but it just didn't feel very good at all. The scene at the basketball game was very poor as it just felt like a stupid comedy rather than an action-comedy adventure. Don't let that terrible first act put you off though as the film certainly gets better as it goes on. Another negative aspect was the big villain - Kraang - I absolutely hated everything about this character - the voice, the visual look - it was just awful. The character felt like something you would see on a cheap cartoon, not on a huge screen in 2016. I also thought the intentions of the villain weren't too clear - for a film that begins extremely child-friendly, it has a pretty confusing premises. Another thing that I didn't like about the film was the fact that the cool idea they hinted at in the trailer - the turtles becoming humans didn't go any further than it went in the trailer. It would have been pretty cool to see the turtles transform into humans briefly - that whole sub-plot was kind of irrelevant looking back. Finally, of course this film suffers from Michael Bay-isms - the male gaze is on Megan Fox for pretty much all of her scenes. Her character really isn't that great here at all - I liked her in the first film but she really became a helpless character this time.

There are some elements in Out of the Shadows that are brilliant at times but also poor at other times. One of these are the visual effects which are generally very impressive - the only time they seemed pretty poor was in the final action scene - the film would cut back and forth to fights on earth and fights in the air - the ones that occurred in the air seemed very cartoon-like and looked like they could just be taken out of a video game - it didn't help how the film would switch back to real life which made the unrealistic visuals even clearer.

The acting in this film is also generally very mixed - I thought most of the live action talent lacked charisma. I still don't believe Megan Fox is as bad of an actress as everyone says she is but she was definitely side-tracked in this film and the screen time she did get was her either being saved by a man or her being sexualised. Fox wasn't really given much great material to work with but she did an ok job. Stephen Amell is another person who gave a very uncharismatic performance - I'm pretty sure his facial expressions rarely changed throughout the film, no matter whether he was happy, annoyed, angry - he just had a blank face. I was least impressed with his performance. Despite the on-screen talent not being up to scratch, the voice actors were very good and charismatic as the turtles - they made them very likeable and funny.

Like I said, TMNT 2 is dumb fun - there are elements that are very weak and silly about it but then there are other elements which are very good that make you forgive the film for its weaknesses.

One thing I was most impressed about with this film is the 3D - this has to be the most effective 3D I've seen in a long time - things actually come out at the audience. This shows that the team behind this film must have put in effort to create these effects. I would definitely recommend seeing TMNT 2 in 3D as it is definitely worth that little extra.

Even though I don't recall being a huge fan of TMNT when I was younger, the audience was full of people in their 20s and older who were laughing constantly throughout and seemed very satisfied with the film. This suggests that the nostalgia craze definitely isn't wearing off and Out of the Shadows has been successful in impressing the long term fans with some classic characters. If you were a TMNT fan back in the day, I recommend this film to you. Speaking of the audience laughing, this was a very funny film. Even though that was a big flaw to begin with, the film was able to balance out the laughs with the action to create a happy medium. The film is light-hearted and a really enjoyable watch.

By far the best thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is that it has a really likeable feel to it - I'm not too sure on how that is created but the characters are great, the music is great, the action is great and the comedy is great. I think all of that just adds up to a really fun movie despite some of the narrative and acting flaws.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is on par with its predecessor - it is another dumb but fun film that I think is worth your time in a summer filled with superhero films. This may not be the best film you'll see this summer but it will definitely be one of the funnest. Definitely see it in 3D if you choose to go as it is worth it. The film does have narrative issues and some of the acting is a little weak but that is made up by great action and just a very likeable feel. Turtle Power!

3 STARS
C+

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