Director: Dave Green

Cast: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Laura Linney, Tyler Perry

Classification: M (Action Violence)

Review by Peter Gray

2014’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ reboot was a much more enjoyable film than I had been expecting. The thought of everyone’s favourite cinematic punching bag Michael Bay being involved in reintroducing the brand to a new generation was enough to draw initial caution from audiences, and the lack of series favourites featured wasn’t helping matters either, but evidently enough people found a sense of satisfaction with director Jonathan Liebesman’s outing as this sequel was announced no less than 2 days after the original’s opening.

With this sequel – subtitled ‘Out of the Shadows’ – new director Dave Green (‘Earth To Echo’) pretty much delivers more of the same, though it’s evident this film has adopted a more kid-friendly mentality with the lunacy of proceedings harkening back to tentpole adventure films of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The gang’s all here in stereotypical spades with hard-edged leader Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), brawn-heavy Raphael (Alan Ritchson), intellectually-heightened Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and wise-cracking Michaelangelo (Noel Fisher) back in fine form, not to mention their guardian (of sorts) April O’Neill (Megan Fox, speaking of all things in fine form) and master Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub). Thrown in for good measure, and to perhaps appease those who felt a Ninja Turtles film isn’t complete without them, fan-favourite characters Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) make for ripe scene-chewing and, likely to be the biggest treat of all, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) is introduced in all his hockey-playing glory.

If these names don’t mean anything to you then already this film isn’t for you, but how does it stack up for the rest of us? It goes without saying that a film detailing walking, talking overgrown turtles is going to be working with as little logic as possible, and the script from Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec is seriously ludicrous and pedestrian, but there’s a great sense of infectious energy infused into the characters that it’s an easier film to digest if you just go along with it. Here’s a film made with pre-pubescent males in mind, and it certainly can’t be denied that the demographic should lap up the overblown CGI, audience-appropriate banter, and the sight of Megan Fox sexed up to the nines in a pleated school-girl skirt and tied-up tee.

The story itself – if it matters – recounts the previous film’s capture of the villainous Shredder (Brian Tee) and how New York City is now starting to feel normal again following the Turtles’ act of bravery; though in a bid to keep their identity hidden April’s cocky cameraman Verne (Will Arnett) has taken responsibility for their defiant act of heroism. With a hint of time warp technology and a serum that can create ordinary men into monsters (cue the introduction of Bebop and Rocksteady who are transformed into a warthog and rhinoceros respectively) the turtles find themselves way in over their shells in a bid to save the world from both Shredder and a vile, brain-like creature known as Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett). It just wreaks of intellect, no?

With an overblown finale that feels worthy of something The Avengers would be involved in, ‘Out of the Shadows’ shows no sign of giving in to subtlety. It isn’t a smart film by any means necessary but it is a visually exciting one, and any feature that manages to get the likes of Tyler Perry and Laura Linney (who I assume lost some sort of a bet) involved with giant ninja turtles and intergalactic themes has to be, at the very least, entertainingly fascinating. Turtle puritans may still be up in arms over how the characters have been treated in their latest form but I suspect younger audiences will come to love the reptilian quartet in all their 2016 glory.

My rating: 3/5

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