Dave Green’s sequel will keep youngsters and nostalgic fans more than entertained, for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a prime example of undemanding popcorn cinema.
It won’t change the face of comic-book movies forever – but then it was clearly never intended to do so. A Saturday-morning cartoon created for the big screen, it’s virtually critic-proof.
Loosely inspired by the plot of 1991’s The Secret Of The Ooze, the latest Turtles adventure sees franchise favourites Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), Kraang (voiced by Brad Garrett), Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE’s Sheamus) brought into the fold. Also back once more, with feeling is Megan Fox as ace reporter, April O’Neil, and Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick.
Green and his writing team definitely got their hands on the Marvel and Pixar playbooks. Krang, CG creation who looks like a talking tumour, has teamed up with Shredder (who is busted out of a prison van in a sequence highly reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s work), and together they plan on destroying the world with what looks like a Death Star made out of metallic Stickle Bricks.
Donnie, Leo, Mikey and Raph – now sounding more like a boyband than characters named after masters of the Italian Renaissance – are charged with tracking down a mystical device split into three pieces. They do so while prattling on in outdated 1990s lingo (nobody says ‘cowabunga’ and ‘gnarly’ these days, mate) and shouting out references to movies only adults will have seen (famous dialogue from The Godfather and Taxi Driver gets quoted). So far so Marvel/Pixar.
In an attempt to inject a smidge of emotional depth into the cartoon-style chaos, the turtles are obsessed with being accepted by society. They even toy with the idea of becoming human (thanks to some magical purple ooze). Like Frankenstein’s monster or My Chemical Romance fans, the turtles are portrayed as outcasts looking for a place in the world.
For these heroes in half-shells, home is where the pizza is.