Michael Bay vacates the Director’s Chair (but moves to the Producer’s lounge) for the rebooted Turtles’ sequel; good or bad news?
Despite saving everyone from Shredder in the last movie, the Turtles are still very much underground – in the shadows, if you will – keeping people safe in secret. Watching Will Arnett’s cameraman pick up all the fame & adulation leaves a sour taste in their mouths as they imagine what it would be like to be appreciated for who they are. We can all relate, of course.
Meanwhile, Shredder may not be all that secure in prison as Tyler Perry’s mad scientist concocts ways to enact yet more havoc on the city. Can the turtles secretly save the day a second time, or will they need to come ‘Out of the Shadows’ first?
Whatever you think of Bay, he knows how to score a commercial hit: TMNT 2 isn’t even that (global box office totals still haven’t hit that magical $270m mark). Potential for amphibious dude-laden bonhomie is squashed by rigid adherence to dry formulas & dull direction.
Red flag number one appeared instantly, with a mind-numbingly bland brass-heavy score undercutting all manner of weightless CGI flips and spins as the four turtles make their entrance. Wasn’t this kind of musical emotion-triggering banned by some kind of regulator years ago? Where are the beats and quirky tunes such ridiculous characters should be grooving to?
Events continue with little to no humour and plenty of basic characterisation. “Wouldn’t it be nice not to be turtles?” “Why can’t I lead the group?” “Am I a bad leader?” You get the idea.
To our great surprise, Megan Fox was actually an almost-positive in the movie, apparently having found her dramatic niche as a competent, kind-hearted & beautiful sidekick (April O’Neill here) – and she can’t really take the blame for a disappointing scene exploiting the last of those traits.
Stephen Amell as hockey-fighting vigilante Casey Jones was also a likeable foil for the turtles & Fox, managing to provide some of the silly Jackie Chan-esque action we wanted more of from the Turtles themselves; and Will Arnett proved his bankability for laughs even in dire material with a good scene tracing a hidden camera, but he is the last plus point we’ve got – what was Laura Linney thinking?
The plot is utterly subservient to ‘hit movie’ & character box-ticking, laid bare with one of the worst pieces of exposition we’ve ever come across as Donatello introduces the nonsensical 3rd act with a series of technology jargon-infused non sequiturs.
Even the CGI animating the turtles looks like it’s missing that last 20% of effort; especially obvious in the movie’s finale, where the titular metaphor finds resonance as they get their ninja on in bright daylight.
Kids have been thrown mere scraps to chew on in the form of Michelangelo, who *giggle* talks in a funny voice, and ‘coolness’ to wow over in a nunchuck-wielding garbage truck – but precious little else.
This looks, sounds and feels like a movie that cares not a jot what you or anyone else thinks of it – people will watch it and buy the toys because the hard graft of brand-building was successfully achieved many years ago. This is just filling up the Porsche with cheap petrol to keep the old engine ticking over.