Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows opens on a gorgeous establishing shot of the New York skyline. It is one of the few shots in the film not tightly framing partial faces engaging in reaction shots.
In the aftermath of Shredder (Brian Tee) terrorizing NYC, Vern “The Falcon” (Will Arnett) has taken all of the credit, and the Turtles have returned to the shadows. That is, until Shredder and two bumbling goons Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) are sprung free in transit between prisons, Bebop and Rocksteady are transformed into gross mutant animals, and Shredder teams up with intergalactic alien bubblegum brain Krang (Brad Garrett) in order to bring Krang to Earth to take over the human race.
This is of course after our female protagonist, among others, are objectified in slow motion, as is now customary in Michael Bay-centric films.
Speaking of Michael Bay, he acts as executive producer on this film, and it shows. Even shots of normal conversation are accompanied by some sort of in-frame action and rotating camera shots. Although it is tolerable, it is an ADD-minded cluster of shots with an occasionally appealing shot here and there.
As far as pacing goes, if far outworks its predecessor. The aesthetic is the same erratic, tightly framed, closeup heavy, constantly moving affair. But the narrative, as basic as it is, moves at a smooth pace.
Narratively speaking, the Turtles themselves are fine. They are voice acted well and have good chemistry together in a way that mimes previous incarnations of the characters. However, nearly every other character in the film is poorly executed or acted. Bebop and Rocksteady are abrasive and hard to stomach on sight, not to mention they carry far more screentime than their characters warrant. Conversly, super-baddies Krang and Shredder are vastly under-utilized. The prior is acted comically over-the-top, the latter is acted completely wooden.
The action sequences (read: what everyone who isn’t a TMNT fan came into this movie for) are fairly entertaining. The initial chase sequence involving the Turtles, the police, and motorcycle-riding baddies eases you right into the film. Unfortunately, later fight sequences do not deliver the same attraction.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows uses its hyper-intensified continuity editing to present a well-paced, albeit visually jarring, action experience. There is nothing here to be awed by, but it isn’t a glaringly bad film either, especially when comparing it to the last Turtles outing. Perhaps die-hard fans of the property will find more joy out of it than the average moviegoer. In the end, it is merely a forgettable action film.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)