When Tyler Perry is the best part of your movie, the alarm started going off a long time ago.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (the longest, most unnecessary title of all-time) is the sequel to the 2014 films about everyone’s favorite pubescent modified warrior reptiles. This time around the gang must stop Shredder (who apparently survived his fall off the Empire State Building in the first film with no explanation) from doing evil things. That is really as much of a plot as I can give you because that is really as much of a plot as there is in this thing. Megan Fox, Tyler Perry and Stephen Arnell star as Dave Green directs.
The first Ninja Turtles movie wasn’t good, but at least (from what I faintly remember about it) it was watchable enough. The complaints people had about the film were mainly that didn’t have enough fan service, the Turtles’ design was ugly and the film wasn’t overly charming. This sequel has none of those problems because it took all those complaints and flipped the script; now there’s too much fan service, the Turtles are way too dressed up and the attempts at charm and fun are nauseating.
Nothing in this movie feels organic, everything just has the “let’s get a summer blockbuster sequel out as fast as possible” way about it. Right from the opening sequence I knew something was off because the film literally stops to put the Turtles’ names and roles within the group on the screen as if we didn’t see the first film or know these characters. Or, more likely, the screenwriters were too lazy to create fleshed out characters so they just gave you cliffnotes to put you up to speed.
The humor of this film has to be addressed because it is all over the place, as long as none of those places are “funny.” The inclusion of Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly, respectively) was something fans wanted to see, and granted I never watched enough of the show to develop a bond with the characters, but oh my god, I hated these two. If you don’t know, Bebop and Rocksteady are a mutant rhino and warthog and they are just there to make fart jokes and pick their noses. They add nothing of value to the film except an occasional pity chuckle from a young child and as the aforementioned fan service. Brad Garrett also voices a bad guy who gets no intro or character development, and unless you know TMNT lore you will have absolutely no idea who he is. Post-Raymond life has not been kind to Brad…
Tyler Perry is the best part of this mess and it is only by comparison. Perry knows he is in a dumpster fire that is beyond saving so he hams it up, including a beyond stupid chuckle that is possibly brilliant, probably just dumb, but I laughed every time he did it.
The screenwriting is so atrocious and predictable that it is deplorable. Casey Jones (Arnell) breaks a jukebox and smashes a half dozen liquor bottles while trying to get info out of a bartender, just to have the bartender hand him a GPS tracking device that will lead him to the bad guys. Convenient way to solve his problems, but you know, also a crime. Then the Turtles find a potion that can maybe turn them human. Does the film make this into a “Spider-Man 2” moment and create inner conflict? Lol, nah, it lasts one scene then has no effect on the plot.
Look, I could write an essay about how awful “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is. Within 20 minutes my friend and I were squirming in our recliners because we needed to be put out of our misery. If you are a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then maybe you will enjoy the easter eggs enough to overlook the smaller flaws, but unless you are the youngest and least-demanding of children, there is nothing in this film for you. I just spent most of the runtime staring at the screen with a blank look on my face, wondering what the shell was going on and what I had done that God was punishing me so.
Critics Rating: 2/10