Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (3/5)

If you can’t say Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without breaking into that unbeatable theme tune then this sequel to the rebooted heroes in a half-shell franchise is for you.

To be totally frank it’s not great from a plot and character development perspective, but it is a lot of fun with some thrilling and surprisingly complex action-sequences that’ll keep you entertained for the duration.

It also brings in some favourite characters from the series including Shredder’s hooved henchmen Beebop and Rocksteady and extra-terrestrial terror Krang (yes, Krang!) with all three looking fantastic.

Another new face on the big screen with this reboot is Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). Now Jones is a fantastic comic book character in his own right, but sadly here he is a bit of a let down. Rather than the masked vigilante with anger issues we all know and love, Casey is a cop in the New York City Police Department who dreams of becoming a detective.

It’s probably the only other emotional story arc in the whole film but its half-hearted and Casey just comes off as a bit of an aimless sap. He and April O’Neil throw some sparks but Megan Fox is so wooden she’s apt to catch fire. It’s certainly kid friendly, though perhaps a bit too sanitised all the same.

I can’t see this film converting anyone who isn’t already a turtles evangelist, unless of course they’re a child (it went down a treat with the kids in the audience when I saw it), because if you’re not sitting in the cinema due to the fact that you will always have a special place in your heart for Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo then there’s not much else to pull you in.

The characters feel unexplored and there’s a very straight-forward planet-saving mission driving the movie along that involves the brothers learning how to work as a team (this is the other arc I was referring to earlier).

While this could have worked brilliantly, writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec seem not to have given the kids enough credit and sell them short on emotion. There’s no real split – you know, like how Raph goes off and sulks while Leo does some soul searching, throwing the team into uncertainty – and so there’s no big pay off when they set their differences aside and go full ninja to save the day.

The turtles have a wonderfully complex relationship and are a furtile ground for stories about brotherly love, not fitting in and doing the right thing. While they might look incredible and fit for the 21st century – really the stars of this rebooted move franchise are whoever designed their new look –  the writing is still stuck in the 80s.

Final verdict: Fun, frenzied and a feast for the eyes but lacking substance. Still, kids will love it all the same.

If you liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows you should also watch:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
  • Kung Fu Panda

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