Sunday, June 19, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is Surprisingly Fun [Contributor: Julia Siegel]

After a horrendous first film, I was very surprised that Paramount wanted to make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel. TMNT was so bad that I could barely sit through it, and needless to say, I didn’t really want to go see the sequel. However, I figured that TMNT: Out of the Shadows couldn’t be worse than the first because nothing could really be worse than that film. I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by TMNT 2, as it was more fun and enjoyable than its predecessor. It’s a decent movie that gives any TMNT fan what they had hoped this new franchise would be.


TMNT 2 differs greatly from TMNT for a few reasons. First, this film focuses more on the turtles than the humans. With this shockingly obvious twist, the film was actually bearable to watch and even made me laugh here and there. I’m not sure why the first film didn’t focus on the turtles when it most certainly should have. With the turtles in the driver’s seat of the sequel, we get to see what they are really capable of.

Second, the human characters (Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, and Tyler Perry) aren’t overpowering. They had enough presence to make an impact in the film, but didn’t take away from the turtles. The first film focused too heavily on Fox and Arnett, which ultimately became the film’s downfall. Giving them lesser roles was the best thing the writers could have done. The humans add some fun to the story, but they aren’t really needed or necessary in the grand scheme of things.

Thirdly, Michael Bay was definitely given a larger role in producing the sequel, which is made clear by the numerous explosions throughout the film. Unlike some people, I think Bay is a good producer and tries to make every movie that he works on fun. The first film didn’t feel like Bay had any impact on it at all. The contrasting action sequences between the two films screams Bay had a bigger part to play in creating the sequel.


Even though TMNT 2 is about the turtles, I want to take a moment to talk about Stephen Amell’s big-budget film debut. We all know and love Amell for his work as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow in The CW’s hit series Arrow. I’m sure a lot of people have been anxiously waiting for the day that Amell would make the jump from TV star to film star. It’s actually surprising that he hasn’t made it into the film world yet considering how insanely popular he is.

Amell has finally graced the silver screen in TMNT 2 as fan-favorite vigilante Casey Jones. I thought that Amell was the perfect choice for the role, and it suited him very well. He brings Jones to life with plenty of attitude and butt-kicking skills, and even though he didn’t have a huge role in the film, it was the perfect platform to launch him to the next level. Obviously, Amell is great in comic book roles, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he sticks to those types of characters. It would be great to see him reprise his role of Arrow in The Justice League or any DC movie, as he would be a good addition to that universe.

It will be interesting to see if Amell will stick with his TV gigs or try to make the switch to film, since he definitely has the potential and acting skills to make it big in the film industry. I would like to see him branch out and play a more serious character in a drama to see if he really can play more than a superhero.


Even though TMNT 2 is better than the first film, it’s still not a great movie. There was plenty that went wrong, starting with the title. The title implies that the turtles don’t have to hide in the shadows anymore and can be free to go about their business. Unfortunately, the turtles are still hidden for a majority of the film, and the world still doesn’t know of their existence even by the end. The turtles do go outside and help take down the villain, but I wouldn’t call that being out of the shadows. I hate when a title doesn’t reflect the actual events of the film.

Another issue is that the turtles are still creepy looking. They don’t quite look like turtles, which is a problem in my eyes. I think the franchise should have stayed animated instead of trying to make it live action. The villains and turtles all look and work better as animated characters because their existence in the real world isn’t actually plausible. Making a live action film implies that the story has some sort of ability to occur in reality. TMNT 2 is definitely not happening in reality anytime soon.


It’s quite rare that both critics and audiences agree on how good or bad a film is. TMNT 2 was scored slightly higher than TMNT by both critics and audiences. The numbers aren’t anywhere near good, but they are an improvement. As of Thursday, June 16th, Rotten Tomatoes gave TMNT 2 a 35% rating, which is a 13% increase from the original. Only 56% of the 45,192 users that rated the film liked it, which is a meager 5% bump up from the first film. There are similar user numbers on IMDb as well. The 10,442 user reviews combined to rate TMNT 2 with 6.4 out of 10 stars. TMNT received 5.9 out of 10 stars from 163,781 user reviews.

Unfortunately, the increased ratings didn’t lead to greater box office earnings. Box Office Mojo reported that TMNT 2 brought in $35.3 million domestically in its opening weekend while TMNT racked up a $65.5 million opening weekend in August 2014. It has taken TMNT 2 thirteen days to hit the same mark that the first film hit in a single weekend. TMNT wound up with a total gross of $493.3 million. With a slow first two weeks at the box office, it looks like it will be an uphill climb for TMNT 2 to make even half of what the original grossed.

Paramount spent $135 million to make TMNT 2 and while they are very likely to make their money back, the film shouldn’t be seen as a success. There are many reasons why TMNT 2 isn’t successful: total gross sales, unfavorable critic and audience ratings, bad storyline, and the list goes on. Paramount may have been better off releasing TMNT 2 later in the summer like the original. The beginning of June typically isn’t a huge time for people to go see movies, so they already had a strike against them with an early release date. All in all, if you are a fan of the TMNT franchise, then I’m sure you will enjoy the film, but don’t think it’s going to be spectacular because it simply isn’t.


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