Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
THE wisecracking heroes in a half shell face the terrifying prospect of an alien invasion in the sequel to the 2014 live action adventure, inspired by the popular comic books and Nickelodeon TV series.
Dave Green supplants Jonathan Liebesman in the director's chair for this big-budget instalment and he follows the lead of his predecessor by blitzkrieging the screen with eye-popping special effects and outlandish stunts.
The bloodless violence of the first film has been toned down – Shredder's razor-sharp claws are retracted – and the central characters continue to cheat death with casual aplomb.
Thus, the turtles make a connecting flight back to New York by jumping out of one airplane without parachutes and tumble onto the fuselage of a second craft, which is cruising at a lower altitude.
Screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec shoehorn familiar faces, including Casey Jones, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady, into the chaotic mix to increase the probability of wide-scale destruction.
Turtle brothers Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) live in the sewers with their rat mentor Splinter (Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub).
Mikey wishes they could live above ground with the people of New York.
"We will never fit in. We live in the shadows, we're ninjas," chides one of his reptilian brothers.
Their arch-nemesis, Shredder (Brian Tee), escapes from police custody with the help of a teleportation portal developed by evil scientist Dr Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry).
The portal inadvertently propels Shredder into the clutches of an alien from Dimension X called Krang (Brad Garrett), who intends to invade Earth.
The extra-terrestrial mastermind enlists Shredder's help to locate two further pieces of a more powerful teleportation system, which are hidden in the American Museum of Natural History and a rainforest in Brazil.
While Shredder carries out the alien's bidding with the help of two mutant sidekicks – a rhinoceros called Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) and a warthog called Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) – Bureau Chief of Organised Crime, Rebecca Vincent (Laura Linney), attempts to recapture the escaped criminal.
Her efforts come to naught, so it's left to the acrobatic turtles to avert disaster, aided by Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) and a vigilante called Casey Jones (Stephen Amell).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows possesses the same crude turtle power as the first film.
The lead characters still look creepy, courtesy of motion-capture performances, but there's more emotion in a script that forces the somersaulting quartet to consider their place in a world that views them as monsters.
Catchphrases are duly recycled and the simplistic narrative neatly avoids mortally wounding anyone who could conceivably be resurrected for more movies in the series.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (12A, 112 mins) Action/Fantasy/Comedy/Romance. Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Laura Linney, Stephen Farrelly. Director: Dave Green
RATING: TWO STARS