Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS. With Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard. Also starring: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brad Garrett, Brian Tee, and Tyler Perry, Gary Anthony Williams, and Stephen Farrelly. Directed by David Green. Rated PG (Fantasy violence).112 min.

This American animated, action-adventure, science-fiction comedy is a sequel to "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (2014). It tells the tale of four warrior Turtles, based on characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, who are in mortal conflict with their enemy, The Shredder, who escapes jail to do battle with them again. Several actors in the movie reprise their original roles.

The film juxtaposes human footage with animated footage to tell its story. A massive team of visual effects and special effects artists have been used in the production of the film, which features impressive animation.

The team of Turtle warriors in the film, which featured in the 2014 film, continue their adventures. They are Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced also by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard). The sequel is well linked plot-wise to the original film, and the opening scenes of the film establish the historical connections.

The movie is filled with nasty villains, some fantasy and some real. Super-villain Shredder (Brian Tee) joins forces with mad scientist, Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and his ally henchmen. Shredder uses Dr. Stockman to create mutants in animal versions of Behop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly). There is also a plan around to take over the world, and the villain in this respect is the evil, especially nasty-looking Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett), who proves the Turtles' biggest threat.

The movie's title draws its meaning from the group of mutated turtle warriors coming "out of the shadows" to protect their environment when New York City is threatened by an extraterrestrial invasion from above led by the alien, Krang. The Turtles are joined in their fight against Krang and The Shredder by human friends, April O'Neil (Megan Fox), Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). High sounding values are interspersed throughout the film with the action violence.

The fusion of fantasy animation and live performance is achieved through the use of motion-capture photography which has been used in many modern animated films - the most famous of which is " Avatar" (2009), and the most recent of which (on Australian release) is "Jungle Book" (2016). Good production work has been used throughout the film to join them both.

It helps in this movie to have seen the original 2014 film, which is particularly well suited to spawning sequels, and there are, in fact, more sequels to come. When so many good animated films show positive animal characters caught in vulnerable situations that easily arouse children's empathy - like "Finding Dory" (2016) - it seems a shame that loveable animals like turtles have been given warrior mentalities for the purposes of entertainment. But if one accepts the pattern already established, and the fact that the original film had wide popular acclaim, this movie is a lively successor to the original. It borrows heavily and derivatively in its scenarios from contemporary science-fiction calamity movies which are highly prone to feature alien destruction.

The fantasy shown is realistic-looking, and one has little doubt there is more of the same to come in the sequels that lie ahead. However, the PG classification underplays the extent of violence in the movie, which is a warning sign to parents thinking otherwise. On the positive side the quality of animation in this movie is very good. On the negative side, this film is one silly action-violent mess.

Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

Paramount Pictures

Released June 9, 2016

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