Director: Dave Green
Cast: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Sheamus and Will Arnett
Running Time: 112 minutes
Release Date: June 3rd
There is a sequence very early on in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, where Megan Fox as April O’Neil, undercover in a short blonde wig and glasses, professes that her current persona is a nerd. She does it to gain information from an actual nerd, a villain played by Tyler Perry. This leads to a discussion on the difference between geeks and nerds, one that doesn’t paint either in an overly positive light. They namedrop Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, and they discuss the digits of pi. It apparently comes straight from The Big Bang Theory school of nerd-spotting.
Having shown this clear disdain, a chase ensues, where Megan Fox, must, naturally, infiltrate a collection of scantily clad women out taking selfies of themselves in their Halloween costumes. O’Neil, disrobing as she approaches their group, takes off her wig and joins them for a selfie, is painted as positively heroic, soundtracked by the typically self-important Michael Bay (once again producing rather than directing) movie score. This clearly sets out the film’s priorities from very early on.
To clarify: There is very little value to TMNT 2.
One of the few things that actually stands as a strength here is, thankfully, the turtles. They are ninja warriors, heroes, and brothers, and there is a sense of this whenever they come onscreen. Leonardo struggles with his leadership, Donatello handles all machinery and gadgets in a way that values dorks a little bit more than the previous exchange, Raphael is very likable, if a bit brash, and Michelangelo, as the old song goes, is a party dude. And he’s funny too, which is a tough thing to handle when his humour is so obviously aimed at children. When the brothers are on screen there are hints of better film, as they are honestly quite lovable. Another strength is Stephen Amell, who really gives Casey Jones his all.
Pretty much everything else, however, is a weakness, it seems. The plot is almost non-existent, a landmark in the past four years of a climactic sky fight over New York City. TMNT 2 actually manages to avoid any drawn out attempt at wrenching tension from such a tired sequence by disregarding tension altogether, and clearing everything up without much difficulty.
Krang could have been a fun addition from other Turtles media, but he shows up to state his plan, give Shredder his own mutant-making formula and then later (spoilers now) to be defeated, all the while looking a bit like the germs from the germ army ads, 99.9% of whom are wiped out with ease. Krang is no different.
The mutants that the boring, wooden Shredder manages to make for himself are fan favourites Bebop and Rocksteady, played by Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle’s dad, and Sheamus from wrestling. If Michelangelo feels his jokes would be at home in an only okay Shrek movie, these guys are Jar Jar Binks. Everything they say, before and after their transformation from human to animal, was written as a joke, to the point that they become increasingly frustrating as the rhythm becomes clear. Also, after they shout the punchline, they start to shove each other. Every time. Also, at one point they compare their new animal genitalia, before shouting, in unison, ‘My man!’
Not much value. But the turtles themselves are good, and likeable enough that it’s hard not to become invested in their story, and the conflict involved in being heroes that are unaccepted because of their differences – an interesting question that, unfortunately, takes a backseat. Someday, the Michael Bay-ness of this franchise may wear off and these resilient, much-loved characters will end up with a film as good as their characterisation here. But until then, we’ll have to settle for this sewer pizza.