From the Internet Movie Database synopsis for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: “As Shredder joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady to take over the world, the Turtles must confront an even greater nemesis: The notorious Krang.”
Usually, when one reads such a film synopsis, they immediately begin to search the cinemaplex for films like “Me Before You,” “Popstar,” “X-Men: Apocalypse” or even “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (well, maybe not THAT far).
To say this second Michael Bay production (he of the ear-splitting explosion and the unnecessarily short dress) is just what today’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans want and deserve is about all a critic worth his or her salt can muster. After the 2014 reboot, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — which replaced the cheap costumery and silly charm of the early 1990s versions with horrid CGI that while making the reptilian quartet look more realistic, also made them appear 100 times as creepy — was widely panned by critics (at least those over the age of 11), director Dave Green (“Earth to Echo”) now incorporates with the same terribleness the above-mentioned plotline for the sequel.
And while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is not as shockingly awful as the 2014 version, it’s nevertheless difficult to watch unless a) You are a huge fan of the franchise, b) You are a small child and/or c) You’ve been riding on a motorcycle with Gary Busey.
I’m not saying that Turtle fans are unsophisticated, mind you, however, many just do not want to be challenged with things like a coherent story, top-flight special effects, halfway decent acting and somewhat competent direction. The writers even have such contempt for their audience that they don’t even pronounce the turtles’ full names (Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo), instead, opting to call them “Raph,” “Donnie,” “Leo” and “Mikey” (groan).
Here, in addition to Shredder (Brian Tee, “Jurassic World”) teaming up with the over-the-top nerd Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry, WHAT?! Tyler Perry in a movie without the name Tyler Perry in the title??), we meet the series’ only female, April O’Neil (the high-skirted, low-talented Megan Fox, “Passion Play,” who was actually replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the “Transformers” franchise) and Vernon “Falcon” Fenwick (Will Arnett, “When in Rome,” and former SNL cast member), along with new guy and third wheel, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell, “Arrow” TV series).
In trying to locate Shredder, these three incur the wrath of Chief Vincent (Laura Linney, “Mr. Holmes”) and the entire NYPD, but the bad guy is having his own problems. It seems Shredder is now being manipulated by Krang (a name screenwriters think aliens would really have, with Brad Garrett’s ridiculously cartoonish voiceover), a slobbering octopus-like creature stuffed inside a robot, who uses the idiot to open a wormhole that transports pieces of a death star object through.
The turtles — played by Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek and Alan Ritchson — incidentally, travel to Brazil to try and stop two more bad guys, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams, “The Soul Man” TV series) and Rocksteady (WWE wrestler Sheamus O’Shaunessy), who have been turned into a rhinoceros and a warthog, respectively. And then there’s a subplot of a special concoction of a serum that could turn the turtles into human beings. Oh, who cares? By now, anyone who is still paying attention to these premises is obviously too far gone to save anyway.
From a thespian point of view, Megan Fox brings nothing but eye candy to the table, as usual; Amell is just another empty pretty boy and Arnett, well, Arnett as comic relief tries to make the best of what very little he is given. We are also supposed to care that the turtle brothers are bickering amongst themselves (so what? isn’t that the same with every other super hero movie out there today?). And, let’s not forget those heartwarming scenes where the TMNT’s mentor rat, Splinter (voice of Tony Shalhoub, “Pain & Gain,” and a multi-Emmy winner for “Monk”), tells them, basically, to stick together.
Despite this family message, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows earns its PG-13 rating as there are several scenes of violence, sexual innuendo, poor jokes and some profane language which crops up and takes away any charm the semi-successful series might have to offer. Which is, I will remind you, strikingly little.