Turtles enthusiasts have every right to feel apprehensive about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 after initially damning reviews from critics, but it seems like diehard fans of the franchise have very different opinions on the latest offering of Turtle power.
Before we get into dredging the stagnant pond that is the internet and dissecting the varying opinions, let's review the Out Of The Shadows trailer once more to get into the mood, shall we?
Below is a roundup of some of the first Turtle reviews to emerge from their shells, starting with the most favorable and working our way down into the primordial slop.
Team Turtle Power
You are watching a movie made by and for fans – Luke Y. Thompson, Nerdist
Thompson totally understands the blissful wave of nostalgia so many TMNT fans will be surfing when they crash into the cinema, and he has reviewed the latest offering as if he were a true fan.
If you really didn't like the last Turtles movie, neither did Thompson, but he believes there is still hope for Out Of The Shadows:
Rare is the sequel that improves substantially upon its predecessor; rarer still is a genuinely great sequel to a movie that wasn’t very good at all. Though it was a financial success, tied as it was to a cash-cow brand that has never really gone away, 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sought to reinvent the property without apparently understanding what the appeal was in the first place.
Luckily, according to Thompson, director Dave Green has injected the cowabunga back into the franchise by nailing the fun-loving Turtles tone:
This time around the small details are actually smart, from familiar cartoon Turtle art on April O’Neil’s hologram watch to ninja stars encircling the Paramount logo at the beginning of the film. It’s quickly apparent, unlike last time, that you are watching a movie made by and for fans. Sure, Stephen Amell‘s Casey Jones feels so childlike as to almost come off idiotic, and Megan Fox is no master thespian. Yet none of that matters—the Turtles themselves (Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, and Pete Ploszek) are great, and the action sequences are both funny and exciting, particularly an extended skydive-turned-river-chase through Brazil.
This is a film for fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Drew McWeeny, HitFix
It seems like Out of the Shadows has allowed the screen time needed for each of the Turtles to showcase their individual personalities and, to McWeeny, this is a real standout:
Much of what works is simply the time they spend together and the little behaviors back and forth. The only other time I’ve enjoyed these relationships this same way was in Kevin Munroe’s TMNT, the computer-animated version. He understood how important it is to push those four core relationships to the foreground, and Green and his team do the same thing here. I liked the way they used each of the Turtles in the film, and while I can’t always tell you what defines each of them, it’s clear here.
McWeeny also praised the lighthearted tone of the movie and the way Green embraced the gleeful silliness of the Turtles without forcing a dark agenda:
Even in those “dark” early comics, though, there is a knowing absurdity, and that only grew once it moved to cartoon form. This time around, there are bad guys like Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) and, in spectacularly gross fashion, Krang (Brad Garrett), and they could not be weirder or more ridiculous. And that works. It helps. If you’ve already got giant talking humanoid turtles eating pizza and riding skateboards, why wouldn’t you embrace the preposterous?
Better than the last one, but still doesn't rate a 'cowabunga!' – Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
Scheck also rates the sequel as a vast improvement on the original and acknowledges it has what it takes to please the nostalgia junkies looking to chow down on a slice of their childhood:
To say that this installment of the latter series is superior to its predecessor is damning it with faint praise, but it's likely to reasonably satisfy tykes (and certain nostalgic oldsters—you know who you are).
Scheck praises the action sequences and the voice talent of the Turtles themselves, yet he doesn't exactly lavish the human stars of the movie with lashings of praise:
Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Jeremy Howard (Donatello) and Pete Ploszek (Leonardo) expertly go through their motion-capture paces, and their vocal work is not to be faulted. They certainly outshine most of the strictly human cast.
Team 'Oh Shell No'
While a lot of people recognized the fan credentials of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, it looks like a lot of critics aren't enamored of the Turtles, offering less-than-charitable reviews.
Every bit as noisy, brain-numbing and lowbrow as its predecessor – Geoff Berkshire, Variety
Berkshire sees the new Turtles movie as a soulless extension of the first instalments that is simply a vehicle for epic CGI action with a shell stuck on it:
But really, everything that happens in the movie is just an excuse to pile one CGI setpiece on top of another. Audiences will see cars flying through the air, turtles skydiving and an alien invasion cribbed directly from “The Avengers” playbook. And they will meet additional cartoony foes including the moronic mutant lackies Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (wrestler Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly).
The Variety critic also slammed the plot and the human actors who he felt were simply there for continuity and not much else:
Not that any of it matters much when visual spectacle still takes precedence over coherent plotting, and the human characters retain all the gravitas of generic placeholders who accidentally made it into the shooting script.
Out Of The Shadows comes across as unwilling to commit to what made the earlier cartoons and films work – Michael Nordine, The Wrap
A lifelong Turtles fan who admits to naming his childhood rabbit after Leonardo, Nordine was not impressed with the attempt to walk the standard superhero line with the Turtles and give the storyline a bit more gravitas:
The Turtles' place in today's superhero landscape is an odd one, operating somewhere ibetween Marvel's streamlined efficiency and DC's foreboding inconsistency. Out of the Shadows tries to incorporate elements of both and ends up a soupy mess.
Although Nordine was less damning than other critics about the action sequences and general plot of the movie, he just couldn't stand by the tone of the Bay-produced affair:
"Out of the Shadows” stumbles from one set piece to the next, rarely offering viewers much reason to care in between, and its halfhearted attempts at moving toward the “dark and gritty” end of the comic-book spectrum never land.
Reptilian meatheads Donny, Mikey and the gang are joyless company – Mike McCahill, The Guardian
Some people really hated this movie, and McCahill of The Guardian was one of them. After tearing into everything, from Megan Fox's fetishized appearance to the plot stolen from 1991's Secret of the Ooze, he wrote:
Our former heroes in a halfshell have become hulking, cold-bloodied bullies, demanding our pocket money and offering nothing in return — save a joyless, two-hour noogie such as this.
Have you seen TMNT 2? What did you think? Have your say in the comments below!
(Source: Rotten Tomatoes)