I was not the biggest fan of 2014’s TMNT (aka Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – I am seriously not going to type that out each time). While it had its fun moments, the story never resonated with me and specifically because you never really got to see much of the turtle’s true characters. It just didn’t feel like a Ninja Turtle movie. And so, when watching the sequel, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have really brought turtle power back – it’s far from perfect, but it certainly has a lot of fun. And pizza.
The film takes place around a year after the events of the original film and follows the turtles being the typical teenagers they are and desiring to fit into the world, rather than continuously hiding from it. After their heroics in the first movie, the city of New York is relatively safe from the likes of Shredder, until the foot clan stages a masterful escape plan to get him out of police captivity. Things don’t go according to said plan though and thanks to some mysterious technology he gets teleported into another dimension where he makes contact with the cybernetic commander Krang, who promptly recruits Shredder into his plans for world domination.
This time, the action takes you to places beyond just New York and the scale of the battles has increased greatly. And those familiar with some of the plot from the original series, will know that when the word ‘Technodrome’ is mentioned, things are going to big and colossal. To be fair, the plot is a little crazy and there were many sequences and character motivations that didn’t quite add all up. But the film never takes itself too seriously to allow you to be concerned about these small details. And as always, whatever Shredder and the foot clan can throw at us, the turtles can kick back harder and there is a constant battle on the go.
This film expands its cast of characters quite nicely, introducing not only the aforementioned Krang into the movie, but also series favourites such as Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), Rocksteady (Sheamus), Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), Dr Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and a really awesome garbage truck. Whereas the first movie felt a little light on TMNT characters, this one gives us ‘almost’ the entire package.
Despite the addition of these new characters, you never feel like they are cluttering or trying to rush the character building. This movie is most certainly all about the turtles and you really get to know them well in this film. Their different personalities show through quite strongly and their differences become a big part of the story. The script is certainly written to bring each personality of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo (voiced and motion captured by Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson and Noel Fisher respectively) to the fore and the interplay between these four is fun and enterprising. You get to not only see their fun sides expanded, but also some of their more serious and deeper desires. Don’t worry, the film never gets too serious, because like typical teenagers, they can only be deep for so long.
If there is one aspect of the character development that was a little disappointing, it was that Splinter was underused and barely featured apart from a few inspiring messages to the heroes that attempt to drop elements of wisdom into the script. While you don’t expect him to take centre stage in the film’s action sequences, you do expect him to play more of a mentoring role to them. It is a minor issue though and not one that detracts too much from the film.
The rest of the cast don’t get nearly as much time to develop, though the script by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec does a good job in setting up the characters of Bebop and Rocksteady and their journey to becoming mutant sidekicks. Their buffoonery and antics is sometimes hard to watch, but reminiscent of their behaviours in the original comic series, so not misplaced. They certainly add a lot of light and funny moments to the many action sequences. The film is aimed at kids as well, so don’t be surprised if some of the humour is directed at the younger audience members.
Which brings us to perhaps the most memorable part of the movie, its many action sequences. What makes them enjoyable, is not just their bigger scale, but use of practical stunt work. It would’ve been easy for the film to simply just layer so many of the sequences with CGI considering that the major characters themselves are all motion captured creations – all pulled off incredibly well, I might add – but you can make out that a lot of the effects are real and it certainly adds to the excitement of the film. The camera work is spot on in building the action as it follows everything as it rapidly happens, moving around the characters. The camera seldom settles and the editing is fast paced, which keeps the excitement ongoing.
Director Dave Green (Earth To Echo), who takes over from Jonathan Liebesman, certainly brings a lot of passion to the film and you can tell he is a real fan of the comics and classic cartoon. Many moments and scenes in the film feel exactly like they came from the animated show, even the cheesy lines. It’s easy to get put off by the deliberate nature of it all, but if you grew up watching the show it should be familiar to you. Most of the characters behave exactly as you would expect them to, apart from Megan Fox’s really poor April O’Neill character. As in most of her movies, she seems to exist to offer up more eye candy than anything else. And while some of the actors are deliberately trying to be bad (in a good way), she seems to actually be sincerely trying hard and it doesn’t work.
In conclusion, the plot is at times quite ludicrous, the stupidity of the henchmen almost unnerving and much of the dialogue cheesy, but then so was the cartoon show. If you loved the original cartoons, you are likely to enjoy this. Turtle power is most certainly alive in this one.
Last Updated: June 30, 2016