‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Sequel Brings Franchise ‘Out Of The Shadows’ With Best Film Yet

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows could have gone so wrong, especially after the disappointing reboot. Everybody was blaming Michael Bay for what was wrong with the reboot, claiming that the turtles didn’t even look like they should and that the origins were completely screwed up in relation to the source material.

Technically, the source material was a much darker and more violent comic book by Eastman and Laird. That’s not the one even hardcore fans remember, though. The original TV cartoon based on it made the heroes in a half shell into a team of comical clones who happened to use weapons based on traditional ancient Japanese warfare.

We loved that about it. The original cartoon made the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles likeable and gave us a variety of colorful and memorable villains and allies. Not even the films made in the 90s really captured the feeling entirely, with characters we could tell were just men in costumes with animatronic lips. They didn’t feel real.

Almost ironically, CG characters have improved on them. While they still don’t look the way old-school fans expect them to, they have individual personalities that are instantly recognizable. Michelangelo constantly shows us how dumb and hungry he is with a streak of positivity, Raphael is back to fighting Leonardo for control over the team, and Leonardo struggles with the responsibility of being a leader. Even Donatello now has a more nerdy approach to his role, with a projected hologram displaying whatever he’s trying to figure out on the go.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bicker like a family, but it’s enjoyable, unlike what many fans said about the Ioan Gruffudd-led Fantastic Four.

Shredder still feels a little one-dimensional, but it’s still better than his classic cartoon equivalent, where he was basically a whiny punk. Everybody in the film has a sense of dignity about them, even Megan Fox’s April O’Neil. Stephen Amell gave us a surprising performance as Casey Jones, even acting the part of a rash and physical police officer who defies the law to enforce it (much like his role on Arrow). He isn’t the hockey mask-bearing psycho that the character used to be, but his presence is felt.

Of course, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn’t the same without the team’s mutated villains, which is where the 90s films fell short. Bebop and Rocksteady embraced their mutated forms, happily tearing up Manhattan under the orders of Shredder.

Surprisingly, the biggest threat came in the form of Krang, who was never this good before. His plan for world domination even included a twist toward the end, which raised some questions about the future of Shredder.

Tyler Perry made a fantastic Baxter Stockman, and he’s likely coming back in the next film as a giant fly, just like in the cartoons.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel came “out of the shadows” in brilliant form. It embraced its ridiculousness and gave us a film with heart. Even the introduction of so many new characters felt fluid, and nothing seemed rushed like many superhero ensemble films tend to be accused of these days (X-Men: Apocalypse).

The fact that Michael Bay was the producer might help the fans accept that he’s actually capable of making an enjoyable film. Just don’t let him direct the next one, or it’ll probably sink the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise faster than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.


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[Image via Paramount Pictures]