On the eve of its theatrical bow, early reviews for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows have begun pouring online, painting Paramount’s CG-laden actioner as a “bright and brainless” sequel.
Depending on your own expectations going into TMNT 2, that general critical consensus will either be a disappointing surprise or exactly what you’ve come to expect from the studio’s brash franchise.
Here’s a selection of those reviews (via CBM) which, if the 2014 original is anything to go by, won’t have much bearing on the movie’s performance at the box office this coming weekend.
Den of Geek: Within the first ten minutes of TMNT: Out of the Shadows, as you’re watching Megan Fox’s dead-eyed April O’Neil don a disguise that just happens to be a skintight Japanese schoolgirl outfit, it’s obvious that this is something much more cynical than a family movie. Even setting aside the camera’s leery male gaze, everything about the film feels half-hearted, from its paint-by-numbers plot to its disengaged cast to its occasional stabs at emotional stakes. A heightened sense of humour probably makes Out of the Shadows a slight improvement on its po-faced predecessor, but it’s a loud, bright, brainless mess whose greatest asset is its snappy 112-minute running time.
The Guardian: Stephen Amell is likeable enough as Casey Jones, but the character goes from cop to Turtle-trusting vigilante faster than it takes Oliver Queen to draw an arrow from his quiver. The potential romance between Jones and Megan Fox’s April O’Neil is also as laughable as it is unnecessary. Then there’s the villains themselves; this is easily the dumbest, unthreatening version of Shredder we’ve seen on screen – he doesn’t even get a single fight scene – and while Krang impresses on a visual level, the same can’t be said for his ultimate endgame which shares its DNA with all too many other blockbusters. There’s definitely fun to be had with Out of the Shadows, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel fails to maximise the potential of the franchise.
Empire: OOTS is assembled with consummate slickness, nominal director Dave Green – following up 2014’s semi-heartfelt Earth to Echo – approving many of the right effects shots. Yet only Bay could conceive of blowing this much time and cash on identifying the exact spot at which zesty, subversive trash (as the Turtles might once have been) sours into ugly, empty junk, assembled solely to school our young in brute market forces and indiscriminate consumption. Our former heroes in a halfshell have become hulking, cold-bloodied bullies, demanding our pocket money and offering nothing in return – save a joyless, two-hour noogie such as this.
HeyUGuys: This 12A-rated effort falls awkwardly between two stools: it’s too macho for kids, while it lacks the narrative sophistication, ambition and – the estimable Laura Linney aside – casting coups to satisfy teens raised on a diet of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Maze Runner and superior superhero films. And its attempts at knockabout capers wouldn’t be so cringing if it could scrape together a few laughs. Instead, lousy writing – from its predecessor’s screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec – scuppers it at every turn. The anthropomorphised amniotes are well-rendered and energetically voiced and there’s welcome pathos when they are presented with the quandary of whether or not to transition into human form. However, this offers only fleeting respite from the tedium of obese, bloodless action and the story – by turns predictable, incoherent and over-explained – plays as if it has been scavenged from a Marvel skip. With the prospect of another outing grimly mooted by an adversary’s promise to return, let’s pray a third instalment remains but an empty threat.
Also starring Megan Fox, Tyler Perry, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Stephen Amell and Laura Linney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows scurries into theaters on June 3.