‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ tops original
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Take one part 3-D visual bombast, add a healthy dose of non-stop action and sprinkle in one helluva silly storyline — plus those fast-talking, even faster-moving hard-shell siblings — and you have the essence of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
First of all, this sequel is a good improvement over the 2014 adventure that rebooted the franchise. The effects are better, the pacing is tighter and the overall impact is much more entertaining. Of course, there is the necessity to suspend belief — even for a superhero, comic book-inspired film — and go with the flow of a pretty ridiculous script that mixes sci-fi silliness with the Turtles decided strength of effectively battling bad guys.
The setup has villain Shredder (Brian Tee) sprung free during a prison transfer in an elaborate escape orchestrated by his band of gangsters. We then are propelled into a plot teaming up Shredder teaming up with one of the most hideous-looking and bizarre extraterrestrial villains we’ve seen since the advent of “Alien.”
That would be a multi-tentacled creature named Kraang who is housed in the belly of an enormous robot. Kraang’s goal is total universe domination, which inexplicably includes the destruction of Earth and its inhabitants, which he considers totally insignificant.
Aiding the duo is resident evil genius and techno-geek Dr. Baxter Stockman, played by Tyler Perry with a decidedly annoying nervous giggle that makes his character seem more ridiculous than is quite necessary.
A key plot point: Kraang gives Shredder and Stockman a vial of some gelatinous purple goo that has transformative powers. It turns two of Shredder’s key associates (and former prison inmates) into powerful foot soldiers — morphed into both a humanoid rhinoceros and warthog.
An added aspect of the purple goo? It just may have the properties to turn the Turtles — Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo — into humans.
As the title indicates, this film is all about the Turtles being pulled out of their subterranean, secret existence and seen by more than their longtime pals and allies, TV reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), who now is an international hero. As fans will recall, the Turtles’ penchant for privacy led to Vern being crediting with saving the day in the last movie. One of the more entertaining sub-plots of “Out of the Shadows” is Arnett’s wink-wink delivery of Vern’s obnoxious handling of his fame and stature in society. One example: selling plastic bags inflated with his own breath in order to share his essence with the world. (Wonder why the Kardashians haven’t thought of that!)
Additions to the cast include Laura Linney with the thankless task of playing the one-dimensional police department honcho, who chases around looking officious. She’s joined by “Arrow” star Stephen Amell, a cop whose career is initially derailed both by taking the hit for “losing” Shredder in the beginning of the movie — and then being thought nuts for his claims the Turtles are real. Amell is a good addition to the cast of characters, and his energy and charm are well-matched for his Casey Jones persona here.
“Out of the Shadows” thrashes boldly forward through all of this, with elements of sibling dissent between the four Turtle brothers thrown into the mix as they struggle to save the world, after Kraang, Shredder and Stockman open a portal to another dimension that allows Kraang to assemble his Earth-destructing war machine.
Despite its flaws, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” should provide a bit more than 100 minutes of fun and frothy entertainment for the fans of those pizza-loving terrapins.
Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by David Green and written by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec. Running time: 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence). Opens Friday at local theaters.