Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: Flawed... but ultimately fun! 2.5 stars

Is it turtle time?

Walking into the cinema...
Can you take this franchise too seriously? It is truly a fanboy experience that can be categorised in the realm of ridiculous and the nonsensical. Yet, is that bad? 

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
Cinematic value: 2.5 stars     
Bigger questions value: 2 stars

      The original creation of the heroes-in-a-half-shell was never meant to be taken too seriously. Throughout their tenure in the realm of comic books and cinema, these reptilian brothers have captured the hearts of multiple generations as cult crime-fighting figures. They made their first venture onto cinematic screens in the 80's and then went dormant for many years. Then the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their come back through the vision of Michael Bay (Transformers) and have reentered the consciences of the general populace. With their remastered outing in 2014, their origin story turned out to be an enjoyable, but flawed CGI adventure. This franchise reboot became a world-wide hit and it did not take too long for the sequel to be commissioned. 
              This latest chapter is being helmed by director Dave Green (Earth for Echo) who honours the nostalgic tradition of the turtle siblings and re-introduces some of the more whimsical elements of this parallel New York. His decision works, surprisingly. Not that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is anywhere near to representing ground-breaking cinema, but, come on, dude, is it really supposed to be? Green brings back Shredder (Brian Tee) and his minions and with the assistance of mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry). Through their evil partnership, Stockman is able to create the infamous rhinoceros and warthog henchmen of years gone by, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) to assist Shedder in his the goal of global domination. Then to add to the ridiculous mix of the turtle adventure, audiences are introduced to one of the most grotesque and laughable adversaries in comic book history,  Krang (Brad Garrett). It may sound like a mess, but it does deliver an entertaining journey.
              In this era, it has almost become a cliche to be astonished by the computer generation of these creatures, but it would be wrong to not acknowledge these incredible effects. The CGI team and the turtles are what really save this film on multiple levels. Understandably, CGI cannot do the heavy lifting for the film, but these characters are so believable it is easy to think that they actually exist in some form of reality. What gives life to these state of the art special effects is the scripting for the turtles. The overall script is predictable and anaemic, but the dialogue between the brothers makes for good fun and despite their size they are able to expose their teenage angst. They have superhero powers, but they still work within the realm of teenaged boys who are still finding their feet in the world. When the turtles are on the screen, things make sense and make for an enjoyable experience, but this magnifies the weaknesses of the film. 
         The flaws come in the form of the human element. Similar to the first outing in this franchise reboot, most of the human cast is relegated to weak scripting, prat falls, exposed body parts and caricatures. In a film like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the expectation for excellent scripting or strong performances from the support cast might be a stretch. Yet, with the comedic talent pool of Will Arnett (The Lego Movie), Tyler Perry and the dramatic inclusion of the Arrow’s Stephen Amell there is some head scratching as to why they were not more effectively utilised in their roles. Megan Fox (Transformers) provides the eye-candy for the film, but little else to support the action. It is unfortunate that in amongst the preposterous components that Dave Green did not capitalise on the talent pool provided and give his cast enough to work with to lift this production above the forgettable and predictable. 

      Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows proves to be for the fans of the series. It does prove to be better than the original film, but fails to stand up against the multitude of other superhero inspired films on the market at this time. Was it fun? Sure. Did it stay true to the original Turtle Power story? Pretty much. What the producers need to determine for the next outing is whether they want to go to the more ridiculous or to consider adding some depth to the story to provide something more valuable for the viewer. 

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
The whole film is centred on the theme of identity. What was refreshing was seeing Turtles come to realisation that they should be satisfied with who they are as turtles and to make the most of the lives they have been given. This is something that is addressed throughout the Bible. Ultimately, do you find your identity in the world or in Christ? A question worth pondering.   

1. Is it wrong to have heroes?  (John 3:16-17, Romans 12:17-21)
2. What does the Bible have to say about identity? (Genesis 1:27, 1 Peter 2:9)
3. Can mankind's hearts change from evil to good? (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:21)

Trailer for the film

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #TMNT2