Nostalgia will always cover and mask flaws and for a generation of people, this is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film they wanted. The Turtles were never more popular than when they had their 90s cartoon and were the more cuddly characters than the darker, grimy ones that currently grace Nickelodeon. Someone made the decision to go back to that period for the sequel to the disappointing first movie and for many 90s kids, this will be a welcome change.
The main reptilian characters themselves haven’t changed but they never had to. The four Turtles have their distinct, recognisable personalities, from Mikey’s frat-boy, party antics to Leo’s serious, leadership qualities down to Raphael’s bruiser and violent mentality. Each serve their purpose and do it very well, representing the Turtles that currently have their own cartoon series as well as the ones that were popular back in the 90s.
The welcome addition is the new characters to the series. For fans of the classic cartoon all the old favourites are here. Shredder returns but this time brings with him the comedy henchmen, Beebop and Rocksteady, the Warthog and Rhino mutants. These characters are perfectly realised on-screen and the comedy they bring to the film is welcome.
As well as additions for the villains, Out of the Shadows adds Turtle’s sidekick Casey Jones, played by Arrow’s Stephen Amell. This is another classic character brought to screen well, hockey stick, Jason mask and chip-on-shoulder attitude all present. In fact, these characters being so faithful and recognisable highlights the characters which don’t work.
First is April O Neil. Megan Fox returns but doesn’t change the fact that she isn’t convincing as the Turtles main ally. She is passable but barely. The worse addition, unfortunately, is the classic cartoon’s main villain, Krang. When he first appears the tone and style of the movie feel like they change. He is goofy, strange and beyond poorly CGI. It feels so much like a poor kid’s cartoon when he appears that it sharply jars compared to how well the rest of the movie is put together.
The rest of the animation and effects are very good. In sequences where motion-captured heroes fight motion-captured villains, you don’t ever feel distant from the action and the mix of slow-motion to accompany the Turtles’ stunts is welcome in key set-pieces. At times it feels like you are watching the cartoon come to life.
This is both a gift and curse though. Nostalgically, it is great to see characters that were loved as a kid on-screen and “real” but at times the movie is nothing more than a stretched episode of the original cartoon. The plot is paper-thin, there is no character development for anyone and at times it feels like exactly the same movie as the first. This is even down to the finale which is almost set-up exactly the same and then resolved identically too.
The main story is of the Turtles struggling to work together but this is the same tale they had in the first film. When you have a character from another dimension, a cool, blade wielding samurai and the potential for the Turtles to be “normal,” it feels unforgivable to recycle the same plot points for a second time.
Overall, Out of the Shadows is the Turtles movie fans of the classic cartoon will want to see. It has key characters, old favourites and portrays the Turtles perfectly. This only gets you so far though and it soon becomes apparent that there is no depth or realisation of the potential the movie really has.
Rating – 2
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)