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Saturday, 29 October 2016

DVD Of The Week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Out Of The Shadows (2016)


Having been pleasantly surprised by the first Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film, I can report that the sequel, Out Of The Shadows, is more of the same.

There's some garish and befuddling CGI (but also a lot of very good CGI), breathless pacing, mind-boggling action sequences, a joyously simple plotline, some clunky dialogue and some very funny dialogue, a host of underdeveloped supporting characters, funky vehicles that look a lot like kids' toys brought to life (which, generally, they are), and Megan Fox in some skimpy outfits. What else were you expecting?

A year has passed since the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the general public are still oblivious to the existence of our heroes-in-a-half-shell, with former cameraman Vernon 'The Falcon' Fenwick (Will Arnett) being allowed to take the credit for single-handedly bringing down Shredder (Brian Tee) and his organisation.

The Turtles - and April O'Neil (Megan Fox) - learn that the Foot Clan is planning to bust their master - Shredder - out of the transport that is taking him to prison after his sentencing.

Thanks to Professor Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), the Foot has access to a primitive teleportation device, but when they use it to liberate Shredder it sends him to an alternate dimension ruled by the alien Commander Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett).

Krang returns Shredder to Earth with some toxic ooze - to transform subjects into mutant warriors - and the task of acquiring the missing pieces of a device to open a dimensional portal. This will allow Krang to ferry through his self-assembling Technodrome (a kind of mini LEGO Death Star), with which he intends to conjure the Earth. Bwahaha!

Shredder transforms two dumb goons into Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), a mutant rhino, and Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), a mutant warthog, before the transformative ooze falls into the hands of the police.

The Turtles realise that this ooze could be used to change them into humans, which causes a lot of internal friction in the group, and so they try to steal it from the police, only to end up getting spotted by Police Chief Vincent (Laura Linney) and labelled as wanted monsters. This debacle ends with April under arrest, along with their new ally, former police officer Casey Jones (Arrow's very own Stephen Amell).

Speaking of underdeveloped supporting characters, for me, Casey Jones falls in to that category, largely because he only once dons the hockey mask he's known for in the comics and only really uses his hockey shtick a couple of times throughout the movie. Perhaps the next movie will see him go full comic book?

I felt this time round the CGI work on the Turtles themselves made them more individual - even beyond their different colour eye masks - with the combination of physicality and voice work (Noel Fisher as Michelangelo; Jeremy Howard as Donatello; Pete Ploszek as Leonardo; and Alan Ritchson as Raphael) giving each a unique persona that wasn't as strong (for me) in the first film.
Out of The Shadows clearly took a page out of the Avengers Assemble playbook with its final "alien invasion" sequence, but nevertheless this most definitely remains a Michael Bay vision of a Ninja Turtles film.

There are some really cool story moments, such as the uneasy alliance that develops between the police and the Turtles and our heroes insistence on continuing to remain "in the shadows".

But the main selling point of this film is its near non-stop action, served up with the gonzo creativity of a Fast And Furious flick or Mad Max outing (albeit cooked up with computers rather than through practical effects).

Again, hearkening back to my review of the first film, this is isn't high-brow material, or particularly angst-ridden superheroics (even if our heroes are supposed to be teenagers), it is what it is. And it's still a helluva lotta fun!

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