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Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – “A funny, sweet and good-natured, stuffed-crust romp”

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teenage mutant ninja turtles 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is directed by Dave Green (Earth to Echo), and stars Megan Fox (Jennifer’s Body), Stephen Amell (Arrow), Tyler Perry (Gone Girl), and WWE wrestler Sheamus. They don’t play the turtles – that would have been amazing – but instead are Ninja Turtle stalwarts: April, Casey Jones, Baxter Stockman and Rocksteady.

Joining those characters so familiar if you watched the cartoon, are Rocksteady’s co-mutant henchman Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), and supervillain Krang (Brad Garrett). Events are set in motion when Baxter Stockman teleports Shredder out of a prison bus and accidentally straight to Dimension X. Here he meets Krang, who tasks him with retrieving three pieces of machinery required to open a portal that will let Krang and his battle station, the Technodrome, come to Earth.

Two of the pieces are in New York, and one is in the Brazilian rainforest, and Shredder and Stockman mutate two dumb criminals into warthog Bebop and rhino Rocksteady to assist in their retrieval. Guided by Master Splinter (Tony Shalhoub), our heroes in a half-shell – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo – must team up with their friends from the first film, April and Fenwick (Will Arnett), as well as newcomer: hockey enthusiast with an anger management problem, Casey Jones, to stop them, and save not just New York… but the world.

TMNT2 is most definitely for kids, with wind-related jokes galore, a mad-basic storyline, and a turtles-traits-telling title sequence that replaces actual character establishment and development. BUT as a fan of the cartoon, and the act of having fun, I also enjoyed it a heck of a lot.

The action is Fast and Furious-ified, with the craziest, most gravity defying hi-jinx going down near constantly. The film somersaults from bananas set piece to bananas set piece barely stopping for breath or a pizza break. This is all captured via very technically impressive Hobbit-style one shots that exhibit immense planning and expertise.

None of this would work at all if it was not for some fantastic effects work. The turtles and Bebop and Rocksteady are rendered photorealistically and battle satisfyingly solidly. Splinter is strokably good-looking too, and given wonderful life and likeability by the voice of Shalhoub (TV’s Monk). Krang is very worthy of mention too – a hideous tentacle-y brain riding around in a giant robot body, and capable of both intimidating Shredder and making a highly physical foe for the turtles in the finale.

Laura Linney turns up as a Police Commissioner which is odd but nice. Linney adds some needed gravitas, but seeing her alongside ninja turtles and delivering some corny, cheesy and hammy (delicious) lines is a little cringey. Also cringey is Megan Fox. Destined to be eternally wasted after nobody else in the world seemed to see how great she was in Jennifer’s Body, Fox has sweet FA to do here, beyond a horrific strip and quick-change-into-a-school-girl-outfit scene that is worrying and reductive in its inclusion in anything – let alone a kids film.

Also jarring and unnecessary is a single “shit” uttered by Casey Jones. But luckily the rest of Amell’s contributions are good. A known convincing fighter, here Amell swaps Arrow’s elegance for Jones’s brawling style, and although the character’s signature hockey mask is only present for one scene, seeing him on a pair of improvised roller blades facing down Rocksteady on a Harley is another pretty terrific action set piece.

Just like the cartoon I loved as a child, Turtles 2 (Two-tles?) is a funny, sweet and good-natured, stuffed-crust romp. There are holes and sticking points, but with this many easter egg in-jokes scattered throughout, and even the full iconic theme tune present, it’s not hard to forgive, and is easy to enjoy.

3-out-of-5

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