When I was a little kid, I completely adored the Ninja Turtles. I read the comics, I watched the cartoons, and I fell in the love with the live action films. So now, I’m very hesitant about remakes that might do a horrible job. The first reboot, to which this movie is a sequel, was mixed for me. It felt like it aimed to be too grounded and made Megan Fox/Will Arnett much bigger characters than they should’ve been, while sidelining the Turtles.
It looks like they heard our plea though, as this movie seems to dive fully into the nostalgia and aims to bring quite a few more fan favorites to the big screen. But will it succeed? Just because it’s a good translation of the source material, does that mean it will make a good movie?
We’ve got four mutated turtles who know martial arts. They live in the sewers with their “dad,” a mutated rat. They hide in the shadows and protect New York from huge threats but only a few humans know they exist, including reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her former cameraman Vern (Will Arnett). In the first movie, they defeated an evil samurai named Shredder (Brian Tee). This time around, we’re introduced to a scientist named Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), two thugs that try to ride Shredder’s coattails (WWE star Sheamus and Gary Anthony Williams), and a vigilante named Casey Jones (Arrow‘s Stephen Amell). We’re also introduced to an extradimensional threat in the form of Krang (Brad Garrett), a talking brain who seeks to take over the Earth.
If your big complaint with the first movie was “It wasn’t like the comics/cartoon/etc” than you will be pleasantly surprised. This movie even goes so far as the include the animated theme song in the credits and a Vanilla Ice homage (twice actually). New villains Bebop and Rocksteady look exactly they were drawn back in the day and the Turtles themselves have much more screentime and personality.
Visually, there are some stunning moments. The amount of work that went into the Turtles is staggering, as the texture work, water effects, and fight choreography is pretty impressive. The other computer-generated characters don’t get as much love but the Turtles are absolutely stunning.
Out of all the new characters, the highlight for me was Stephen Amell’s Casey Jones, though it’s quite a bit different than his take on the Green Arrow, so it was jarring at first. This Casey Jones though had motivation and some great moments. He was a welcome addition. Will Arnett also stole the show, though he was definitely a supporting character still. This movie at least gave him things to do, as opposed to just following Megan Fox around.
What didn’t work?
While this perfectly brought to life our childhood memories, I have to wonder if that was the best decision. Bebop and Rocksteady looked just their comic book counterparts but once they started with the fart jokes (and at one point, even compare penis sizes) I was wondering if they should’ve strayed a little further from the wacky source material.
The movie also does a disservice by having so many characters and resolving almost zero of their stories. Shredder gets overshadowed by the alien conquerer Krang (who is both annoying to watch and horribly animated), while Tyler Perry’s Baxter Stockman gets a cliche “I’ll be back!” moment. It suffers from “there will be sequels” syndrome, where nothing is really resolved, in case they want to do eight more films (see: Transformers).
And while the Turtles look great, plenty of characters don’t. Most notably Krang, followed closely by Bebop and Rocksteady, who look much more cartoony and out of place than the Turtles do.
I’m conflicted. If they directly translated the comic to the big screen, it would look like this. Tons of characters, stupid jokes, cliffhanger endings… But it doesn’t work as a movie. It feels like way too much stuff crammed in and very little of it pays off. The Turtles are great, as is the new addition of Stephen Amell’s Casey Jones. They should’ve cut either Krang or Bebop and Rocksteady and trimmed the fat a bit, as right now it’s a very crowded movie. If you want a good movie, this isn’t it. If you want a surprisingly true adaptation of the comics/cartoons, this is it. But I don’t know if that’s a good thing.