As I have mentioned on a past podcast, I enjoyed the first film, but wasn’t too enthused about seeing this movie. There were a lot of things I saw in the trailers that turned me off. However, curiosity got the better of me after seeing movie goers on Fandango giving glowing reviews of the film over and over. So, I decided to see what this film had going for it. This is a full review so if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want anything spoiled stop here.
Let’s start out by giving a brief synopsis of the film.
The basic plot is that the city is slowly recovering from the carnage unleashed by Shredder in the first film. Vernon Fenwick has become the city’s hero due to an agreement with the Turtles in which he agrees to take credit for Shredder’s defeat in order to help conceal the Turtles presence in New York. Shredder is being transported to a more secure detention facility with two other criminals which happen to be fans of his work named Bebop and Rocksteady. One of the officers assigned in the vehicle is none other than, Casey Jones, who at this point is aspiring to become a detective. Meanwhile, April O’Neal is doing undercover reconnaissance work for the Turtles on a scientist named Baxter Stockman who they believe is hatching a plot to break Shredder out of the brigade. The Turtles spring into action to try and stop this but Shredder escapes through a dimensional portal conjured up by Baxter which sends Shredder to what appears to be the Technodrome. It is here that he meets the evil warlord Krang who recruits Shredder in a scheme to bring the Technodrome to planet Earth by collecting three pieces of a object that crashed to Earth. One of which was used by Baxter to transport Shredder to Dimension X. Part of the scheme is that in a deal for Shredder to help him, Krang must help Shredder deal with his enemies. So Krang gives Shredder a canister of mutagen in which Shredder uses to transform Bebop and Rocksteady from ordinary delinquents to a man-rhino and a man-warthog.
Casey Jones meanwhile is blamed for the escape of Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady and is given and extended leave from the force. Feeling that he needs to avenge his defeat but not being backed up by the police department, Jones decided to take matters into his own hands and become a vigilante. April O’Neal manages to steal some of the mutagen in which Donatello analyzes to have mutanagetic properties to not only turn people into animals, but animals into people. This creates a sub plot tied into the title of this film. The Turtles are tired of living in the shadows, tired of being looked at as freaks of nature, and more specifically Raphael and Michelangelo really consider using the mutagen to become human.
Bebop and Rocksteady manage to get the other two pieces of the object which allow Shredder to complete the dimensional portal and thus start bringing the Technodorme to Earth piece by piece. Ultimately in a combined effort between the Turtles, April, Vernon, Casey, and the N.Y.P.D., they are able to stop Krang and send the Technodrome back to Dimension X. At the end, the Turtles are finally recognized for their contribution to protecting the city and world from evil and even though they now have the support of the city officials and have the ability to come out from the shadows, they choose to remain in the shadows.
So that is pretty much what the film was about. Let me point the things I liked, and disliked.
~ The Turtles themselves were very entertaining. Michelangelo is by far the most entertaining and very rarely says anything serious in the film, but excels as the comic relief. The Turtles felt a lot more personable to me in this film. Especially the unraveling of the team due to difference of opinion on how they should go about business, and with the situation about the mutagen. Over all they were very believable to me and the animation seems to be better than in the first film.
~ Shredder has a huge upgrade into the world of the realistic in this film. Gone is his Megatron-suit from the first film. Most of the movie you see Shredder without his mask on, however his final suit looks so much better and more logical for a ninja to have even if it is armored.
~ Krang looked awesome. I was curious on how Krang would look on the big screen, but they pulled it off. There was no way anyone had to guess what it was. His suit was very similar to that of the original 1990’s cartoon series. The voice actor was a little underwhelming and corny-sounding, but it didn’t bother me that much. They could have easily hired Pat Fraley to voice the character. Oh well. Maybe in the next film they can.
~ The Technodrome was done extremely well. Again, very little difference between this and the one seen in all the cartoons and games. Huge eyeball on the top, huge gun in the front. They definitely did their homework. They also did a great job in terms of portraying the sheer size and scale of the Technodrome.
~ Bebop and Rocksteady were very entertaining. I have to admit I am impressed with the acting ability of WWE star Sheamus as Rocksteady. He’s a natural. Yet again, designs very true to the cartoons and games. Personalities as well. They acted the way you would expect Rocksteady and Bebop to act.
~ Nods to 1990s I loved the attention to detail of the original cartoon series. The plot of this movie is very similar to that of the first season of the 1990’s cartoon series (5 episodes.) If anything it gives us more insight to the original cartoon series. On the first episode Shredder and Krang had already paired up and and Shredder was already using technology from Dimension X. Here we see how their relationship began. Just like in the cartoon, Krang gives Shredder the mutagen to create his own mutants. Just like in the cartoon Krang is using Shredder to escape Dimension X, and just like the cartoon with the Earth on the brink of total destruction the Technodrome gets sucked back into Dimension X. There were are few other little 90s Easter eggs I noticed such as Donatello using an Super Famicom controller as one of this arm gadgets. We also heard a couple of popular 1990s song playing in a few sequences such as ‘Rump Shaker’ from Wreckx-N-Effect and ‘Ice Ice Baby’ from Vanilla Ice which is kind if a double Easter egg being that he starred in the 1991 film ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret Of The Ooze.’ I saw what they did there. 🙂
~ Baxter Stockman. While I was not overly annoyed by the character played by Tyler Perry, I felt that he had he good points and bad points. It seemed like he was more believable when he was being serious as opposed to when he was trying to be comical. The humor just felt very forced, tacked-on, and uncomfortable. His character didn’t need to be that. There was more than enough comic relief in this film between the Turtles, Vernon, Bebop and Rocksteady, and who I’m about to get into next.
~ Casey Jones was a huge let down in the film. Stephen Amell in my humble opinion was a bad casting for this role. The obvious reason is that he is more known for his role as ‘Green Arrow’ on the popular CW TV series ‘Arrow,’ however there was nothing in his performance that even remotely resembled Casey Jones. Nothing about him felt threatening to me in anyway. He was whiny, soft, too comical in a goofy way rather than a sarcastic way, and just weak. The fighting scenes did not look believable at all. Casey Jones is a pretty important character in the TMNT mythos and they could have done a much better job with his character than this. To be quite honest, his presence was not needed.
~ April O’Neal. I won’t spend a lot of time on this because when you have Megan Fox playing a character any criticism is self-explanatory. They refrained for the most part of over-sexualizing the character in the first film which I liked, however while they didn’t go overboard in this film with it they did sink back into the whole Megan Fox/Eye Candy paradigm which unfortunately took credibility she GAINED in the first film away from her character in this film.
~ Origins of Bebop and Rocksteady. Obviously the canon of this film is it’s own thing and expertly borrows from other TMNT canons here and there, but the explanation of why Bebop and Rocksteady mutated into a rhino and warthog made absolutely no sense. There was no reason to try to tie evolution into the transformation. There was a reason why Bebop and Rocksteady were a rhino and warthog. Shredder wanted to have two powerful animals to combat the Turtles. It seems like they are reinventing what mutagen actually does. It was explained so haphazardly as well. I could literally here a record-scratch sound effect in my head when they did that. I’m like, “wha..?” It’s just another example of many broken sub-plots in this series. Not a deal-breaker, but just dumb.
Overall, if I have to rate this movie I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. If I may be so bold, as much as I enjoy the original 1990 TMNT movie and still think that is the best, I feel like this is the movie we should have gotten in 1990. Obviously 90% of what you see in the film was not possible back then in terms of visuals, but as far script and plot this is what we who are TMNT fans wanted to see. We wanted to see Bebop and Rocksteady. We wanted to see Krang. We wanted to see the Technodrome. That was the highlight of film for me. They did a great job with that.
If you are a fan of the TMNT franchise, go ahead and see this movie. It is worth the money.
I will caution however…..
If you have a predisposed viewpoint as to what it should be and what you want it to be, don’t bother. You will not be able to enjoy it. It will be a waste of your time because all you’ll be doing is pointing out flaws no matter how minuscule. If you are truly being honest with yourself and you truly go into this with an open mind to take it as is, at worst you’ll think the movie is “alright” if not pretty entertaining.