The Turtles are back in this follow up to the previous 2014 movie. (“Thankyou, Captain Obvious”).
The scene has changed since the thwarting of Shredder and Sachs almost 2 years ago: The Turtles have new digs and have picked up again since The Foot gatecrashed their home. Vernon “The Falcon” Fenwick is now a ‘key to the city’ celebrity/franchise after taking the credit for apprehending Shredder (Brain Tee) who has somehow managed to grow his hair out and regain some years in prison. Splinter has mellowed out a little and seems to be a little less strict, perhaps humbled. April (Mega Fox) is still keeping tabs on whatever is left of the Foot Clan through various undercover pursuits.
April’s role in this sequel shows how Donatello’s gadgetry has picked up since the freecycling and hodgepodging of junk in the first movie. Donatello has assembled a neat high-tech networking setup in the new lair with April acting as his eyes and ears on the surface. One scene involves the former Channel 6 reporter chatting up Foot ally Baxter Stockman at a social event whilst hacking his emails through a custom built smartwatch by Donatello. This version of Baxter is goofy, but still as arrogant as other incarnations before. April learns of the Foot Clan’s latest scheme after a quick read of the hacked ‘self destruct’ emails from Baxter’s in-box – Bust Shredder out of jail!
Through this successful to a point hacking, the Turtles also learn that Shredder along with two other prisoners (and fans of his work) nicknamed Bebop and Rocksteady are soon to be transferred to another facility. This part of the movie also introduces a pre-vigilante ‘corrections officer’ Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) who along with one other colleague are tasked with the job of relocating the criminals at the head of a small convoy (big mistake!). This is where the road rage begins in a fun action packed scene that shows off again how the Turtle-tech has advanced since the events of the previous film when the new ‘Tartaruga Brothers’ Garbage Truck is introduced! A remarkably good motorway battle ensues between the Turtles and bike-riding, chopper flying Foot Ninja. Launching manhole covers aside, a fun yet crazy moment involved a fidgety Raphael diving out of the back entrance to clothesline two pursuers off their bikes following with headbutting another off their bike shortly after. Even in a battle that revolved around vehicles and tech, a way for Raphael to whackbag some villains his way was slotted in.
Krang being another promising attraction to this movie surprisingly turns up sooner than anyone may possibly expect. The Dimension-X Warlord is a lot bigger on screen than expected, with Brad Garrett providing a reasonably good non-Pat Fraley like character voice. Dangerous as he is, being a one man alien invasion (no Rock soldiers in sight!) Krang is not without at least one very amusing comedy moment where the mandroid body has difficulty stuffing him into the stomach cockpit. This is coincidentally reminiscent of the action figure based off this movie design. Perhaps Playmates actually engineered it that way!
Brian Tee (who I first saw on the big screen a decade ago as Fast & The Furious villain Drift King) is in my opinion a good choice for portraying Shredder. Some years have been visually put back on the character and overall an improvement. The prison idea has freed the character from hiding in dark rooms and brought him more out in the open. The public know about him, so hiding is pointless. Tee’s Shredder is confident, stern and surprisingly a lot more tolerant of his goofier associates compared to his animated 1980’s counterpart. There could have been at least one moment where Rocksteady and Bebop were berated, but it wasn’t going to happen. And, whilst I believe Tee was good enough to portray Shredder he could have had some better writing in the script. Much in the same way I think Colin Baker made a great Doctor Who, but suffered from bad stories. One scene involved a partnership with Krang forming very quickly after meeting for the first time. A partnership regrettably made later on. Saki really should have played hardball, especially where dividing a conquered Earth is concerned. I still on the whole prefer this rendition of Shredder over the gruffly-voiced, out-of-focus Uncle Fester clone the previous feature had to offer. Gone was the overwhelming multi-bladed mech armor from before and some more slimline combat gear in its place. Armor didn’t play took much of a part in this movie as Shredder actually didn’t need it. Then again, one scene in the later going shows that maybe he did. Sadly, Shredder didn’t do much duking-out at all.
The Turtles receive the lion’s share of screen time in this movie no matter what was going on. The designs whilst the same in different clothing (esp trousers!) are a good looking overhaul with some bits and pieces from the previous CG designs remaining. The Turtles have ample amount of interaction between each other as well as some great moments with their co-stars. Even Raphael and Casey (or proto-Casey as I think of him) scratched the surface on their ego-clash jabbing at one another. Some reviews complained the Turtles argued a lot, but to me that wasn’t a bad thing. The conflict provided an obstacle to overcome and have a Splinter advised Leonardo unite the team and save the day.
Leonardo no longer sounds like Johnny Knoxville, and this has worked out for the better! The previous actors for each Turtle have returned and given ample amounts of interesting dialogue.
Turtles aside, Bebop & Rocksteady as the other mutants were visually impressive! Being a wrestling fan, I was overjoyed at the casting of Shaemus as Rocksteady. An Irish version of the character actually worked as much as a Russian version did in the current animated series (some may disagree with that). Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) is also off completely his trolley and is probably the largest rendition of the character to date. That beer gut! And not just the beer gut either. For those who didn’t like Bebop being a skinny cyberpunk cat burglar in the Nick TV series will see a complete opposite in contrast “Ma Man!”.
The introduction of Bebop and Rocksteady also demonstrated a newer version of Mutagen ooze provided by Krang and a different take on how mutants are created. Consider this Project Renaissance from the first film fast-forwarded via a mutagen-darted tranquilizer gun held by Shredder (which also explains why the action figure has a firearm). Bebop and Rocksteady are promoted from errand boys to test subjects after being snipered by their boss. The mutagen when injected into a human is supposed to unlock dormant animal DNA from within… That’s right! Any human can be become a mutant or rather an anthropomorphic animal depending on their mystery animal ‘totem’. This does open up possibilities for more mutant characters down the line with a gamble of what animal motif they could be…
Bebop and Rocksteady get to duke it out with the Turtles, in a shot scene where the goons are followed to Brazil in search of lost alien tech for Shredder to bring the Technodrome to Earth. Whilst it could have been longer than the seemingly 5 minutes it was given, the Turtles and Errand boys were given a backdrop to themselves to fight with each other on. The parachuting scene which led to the Turtles stowing away on the Brazil-bound TCRI plane was mostly given away in the multiple TV spots that led up to the movie. Whilst the struggle was a 2 on 4 affair, Bebop and Rocksteady had an all-terrain tank on board provided by TCRI, and by the looks of things a tough vehicle that survived the inevitable plane crash a fight between all the mutants would cause. Perhaps off camera Bebop and Rocksteady brainstormed and borrowed a certain idea from the A-Team movie… The movie never actually showed the plane crash.
This scene made possible by TCRI makes one wonder if Eric Sachs (William Fichtner) from the first movie is still kicking around somewhere or holed up in Japan. His company TCRI is still a presence in this sequel and has provided the Foot Clan with the necessary hardware they need. Sachs never really died after being lamped over the head with a microscope by Vernon ‘The Falcon’ in the original movie, but disappeared. That particular fight scene almost repeats itself in Out of the Shadows with Vernon and April teaming up again, to take on the recast Karai (Brittany Ishibashi) in Sachs place. Whilst this gave Karai mk2 something to do, it wasn’t enough to utilize the character properly. Karai is the one character that is short-changed for screentime in this movie. The recycled fight sequence undermined Karai and what Turtles fans know she is capable of. In in the nicest way possible, the missed original actress Minae Noji dodged a proverbial bullet there.
So everything comes to a head and Baxter has all the alien tech assembled for summoning. The Technodrome debuts from a rift in the sky as a dismantled load of giant flying Lego bricks. Its almost like watching a fusion of Pixels (2015), Bayformers and Age of Ultron (2015). The Turtles via Vernon’s celebrity status arrange to meet with and befriend the local police chief Rebecca Vincent (Laura Linney). Another new human ally is always a good thing, and resourceful ally at that. Through the help of the Police, the Turtles surface outside in the daylight and are given crowd controlled access to the main building the Technodrome is forming around. It was kind of like the scene from Ghostbusters (1984) where they are cheered on before climbing up Spook Central but less fanfare.
The final battle is pretty much a replacement of that from the previous venture where the Turtles fight with a giant manbaby robot instead of a giant Decepticon Shredder. After teamwork prevails and saves the city again, the door is left open for everyone to return again. No characters died at all, leaving the opportunity for the villains and heroes to reunite in Turtles 3 “Insert subtitle here”.
The Turtles are given recognition towards the end by the city as heroes, but choose to continue their ‘in the shadows’ status. A networking relationship has formed with the police to call on the Turtles assistance if help is needed. Perhaps a Turtle Signal will debut in the 3rd movie!!!
The movie ends on a really high-note with an upbeat cover of the original Chuck Lorre produced Ninja Turtles theme by Irish band HomeTown accompanying cartoon shaded stills of character portraits and actor credits. No are credits or post credits scenes with this venture, so be usher-friendly and don’t stick around for any! 🙂
Whilst this sequel has visible holes and retcons, these don’t stop it being a visually fun Ninja Turtles adventure for the silver screen. This will not please everyone, but in a nutshell the whole offering is a vast improvement over what the audience had 2 years ago. I was personally left wanting more and wanting to see where things will go, now that some ice has been broken between the Turtles and the authorities. Krang is most likely going to have a second stab at conquering Earth and maybe bring some allies this time. Above all, I am also mostly eager to see if the Turtles finally finish their Hip-Hop Christmas album!
Overall, a very enjoyable watch. Let’s hope this can be topped!
There! You the reader have made it this far and have survived my marathonly unstructured ramble. Hope you found this useful and please leave a comment. Preferably a nice one.