Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 112 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. Action violence, with hand-to-hand combat, fighting with ninja weapons and hockey sticks and pucks, car explosions, a chase scene, turtles jumping out of airplanes, a crash plane landing, and mentions of various characters’ criminal records. Some sexually themed stuff, like the main female character in a skimpy schoolgirl outfit, jokes about male genitalia, and jokes about sexual tension; some bathroom humor; some cursing; and some gross imagery in the form of villain Krang, a gigantic floating brain that is simultaneously goofy and revolting.
Thankfully funnier and less serious than its predecessor is ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows.’ It’s still juvenile and simplistic storytelling, but it’s less torturous than you would expect.
By Roxana Hadadi
There is really no question about it: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows” is clearly aimed at 12-year-old boys, and practically no one else. Fart jokes, Megan Fox in slow motion in a revealing schoolgirl outfit, ninja fight scenes, genitalia humor—it’s all created for tween and teen boys, and “Out of the Shadows” never pretends otherwise.
It’s stupid stuff, but at least it’s more honest than the faux-serious 2014 predecessor that tried to make the Turtles “edgy.” “Out of the Shadows” is goofier, but it benefits because of it. For fans of the original comics and films, some stuff is still unconscionable—like Fox as reporter April O’Neil—but “Out of the Shadows” strips down its story considerably. It’s not ground-breaking cinema, but for a couple of not-too-painless hours, it will keep young male viewers occupied.
“Out of the Shadows” picks up one year after the events of the previous film, in which the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saved New York City from being taken over by the devious war lord Shredder (Brian Tee, of “The Wolverine”). But to stay a secret, the Turtles let the cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett, of “The Lego Movie”) take credit for saving the city, while they continue working with reporter April (Fox, of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”) on fighting crime.
There is infighting within the turtles themselves, though. Leader Leonardo (Pete Ploszek) wants to prove himself to their father, Master Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub, of “Men In Black 3”). The brawny Raphael (Alan Ritchson, of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) wants to be accepted by humankind. Geeky Donatello (Jeremy Howard) wants to feel that all the tech he develops for the group are appreciated. And youngest brother Michelangelo (Noel Fisher, of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2”), with his big heart, just wants to have a good time.
Can the brothers work together as a team? When Shredder escapes from custody and teams up with intergalactic villain Krang—a gigantic, floating brain encased in a suit of armor, who wants to take over Earth—the turtles need to come together to defeat him. But is Splinter right when he tells Leo that “as long as you keep the team united, you shall always succeed”? Or is Krang too much of a threat to handle, even together?
“Out of the Shadows” is heavy on the exposition and obvious dialogue (“We live in the shadows,” Leo says about 57 times), but how it calls back to the ‘90s TMNT films is fun nostalgia. Shredder henchmen Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams, of “The Internship”) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) are absurdly dumb but amusing enough, and their catchphrase of “My man!” starts annoying but grows on you. The same goes for the turtles’ personalities, which are mostly overdone but have nice moments of levity, like when Raphael wonders during an existential moment, “What would Vin Diesel do?”
And while it’s still impossible to see the clearly-cast-for-eye-candy Fox as anything remotely resembling an investigative journalist, pairing her off with new cast member Stephen Amell, who portrays the hockey-obsessed Casey Jones, is a wise move to keep both of them busy while the turtles do their own thing.
It’s not like “Out of the Shadows” is complicated or layered, but it goes down easier because it’s not trying to be something unnecessarily complex. This sequel is about “four brothers from New York who hates bullies and love this city,” and that’s barely anything, but it’s also enough.
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