Thursday, 9 June 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows

(M) ★★

Director: Dave Green

Cast: Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Megan Fox,Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Laura Linney. 

Is this the queue for nose jobs?

THE longevity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is kind of amazing.

Despite starting as comic book that was intended as a joke (hence the absurd title), the heroes in a halfshell have spawned four animated TV series, countless video games and toys, and now six feature films.

Nothing has been able to stop the turtles, not even the previous film, which drew the ire of fans for changing the looks of the characters and the disdain of critics who slated it for its over-edited action sequences and the presence of Megan Fox.

This sequel to that reboot is neither better or worse. On the plus side it embraces some of the cartoonish qualities of the various animated series but on the downside it still has Megan Fox in it.

Picking up a year after the previous film, it opens with Fox’s April O’Neil (still the worst movie journalist ever) on the trail of scientist Baxter Stockman (Perry), who she suspects is working to free the imprisoned Big Bad of the series Shredder (Tee).

O’Neil calls in the turtles, who are still in hiding despite saving New York a year ago, but they are unable to stop Ol’ Shredhead getting loose. They’re also unable to stop him teaming up with interdimensional villain Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett) on his plan to bring the Technodrome war machine to Earth.

Once again, the turtles are the best thing in the movie. Their interactions, and in particular Michelangelo’s humour, are saving graces and perversely the most human part of the film. When the actual humans are on screen – the dire Fox, the sadly superfluous Will Arnett, and the unfortunate Stephen Amell as the poorly written Casey Jones – the movie suffers, and so does the audience.

Many of the same criticisms from the previous film can be levelled at this one. Worst of all is the hyper-editing of the all-important action sequences, which is most evident in the introduction and the final fight, with the latter looking more like a computer game cut scene than an actual movie. It’s a shame because the turtles themselves are impressives pieces of pixelwork. It’s just a shame we don’t get to see them in action in a clearly visible way very often.

It’s feels pointless to criticise the inner story logic of a film about mutated sewer turtles proficient in the art of ninjutsu, but I’m going to anyway because although there is a certain amount of technobabble leeway that comes with the territory of comic book movies, this takes it to frustratingly idiotic new heights. Time and time again, the plot is only advanced by Donatello or Baxter Stockman explaining some technical impossibility and it happens so often you feel certain the screenwriters stopped trying at some point. Also the MacGuffins are piled so high in this movie that almost every sequence is basically “catch the MacGuffin”, one after the other. But like I said, such criticisms are probably pointless because no one is going to see this film for its deft screenplay.

This won’t go down as one of the best comic book movies of all time. It will be remembered for its CG renderings of such classic TMNT characters as Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang, but it won’t further the legacy of the turtles in any serious way.

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