Following the somewhat disappointing first movie, Alex McDonald questions whether the sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might redeem itself.

Falls somewhere between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the ant from A Bug's Life on the action hero scale.
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As a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I will be the first to admit that the 2014 cinematic reboot, produced by Michael Bay, was an atrocity: it suffered from having weak, uninteresting villains, clichéd plotlines and placed focus in the wrong areas (no one cares about Megan Fox as April O’Neil, show us the damn turtles!). With that in mind, the last thing I wanted was for this feeble franchise to continue, but in the interest of money, we are getting a sequel this coming June.

And I’m excited.

Allow me to make an amendment to that: I am cautiously excited. With the recent trailer drop for the upcoming Turtles adventure, my dismissal of the films existence has turned into mild anticipation as it looks like some major overhauls have been made.

'The jokes come thick and fast throughout, from the Turtles and everyone else.'

First of all, the Turtles themselves look different, which was a major issue I had with the first film. I found the personalities and actions of the Turtles to be quite fitting of the source material, but their looks were distracting and pretty grotesque. Previously, they looked like Shrek on steroids masquerading as Ninja Turtles, and in typical Michael Bay fashion, there were no bright colours to be seen. Now, however, there seems to be some vibrancy to their look – which is what you need for a big summer blockbluster that is essentially aimed at young teens. All of the pointless add-ons to the costumes are still around, such as a Super Nintendo controller on Donatello, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Continuing with the theme of being more vibrant, this film actually looks fun. The trailers of the previous film took a far darker tone, much like that of the Transformers franchise. This time around, we have a van firing man-hole covers out of the grill to the sound of ‘It’s Tricky’ by RUN DMC. The jokes come thick and fast throughout, from the Turtles and everyone else. Even Megan Fox gets a joke in this one, and it works! And the most reassuring thing about this trailer is that she only appears half way through it, making me believe that this is actually a Ninja Turtles film and not an April O’Neil film featuring them.

Yet it’s not just the changes they’ve made to what has come previously that excites me, but the promise of new things from the source material, never seen on the big screen before. The Turtles have always existed in a weird and wacky universe full of eccentric characters, and finally we get to see them. Tyler Perry is playing Baxter Stockman, a crazy scientist who does experiments in genetic mutation, and Perry plays him like a cartoon;a good thing, because the Ninja Turtles should never be taken seriously, should instead be a light-hearted action movie that has some emotional weight to it.

'I challenge anyone to say they’ve seen turtles surfing away on tyres and boxes from a rhino driving a tank.'

But perhaps best of all, is the introduction of Bebop, a mutant warthog, and Rocksteady, a mutant rhino. Not only does this give the Turtles an enemy that they couldn’t kill with a single punch, but it gives them a fun enemy that they can joke with too, and with that exciting and unique action sequences. I challenge anyone to say they’ve seen turtles surfing away on tyres and boxes from a rhino driving a tank. It sounds dumb, but every now and again, we need dumb. And we need a change from the overdone Shredder.

However, I am not without my apprehensions. This is just a trailer, after all, and is not indicative of the film as a whole – we could just be getting a montage of all the funniest jokes and coolest shots. Also, some of the CGI looks a little weak in places, which could take viewers out of the scenes. This trailer is also not without classic Michael Bay-isms, as there is an unnecessary close up shot of Megan Fox’s body as she ties off the bottom of a shirt, because heaven forbid we don’t get that in the trailer; it makes me nervous for the continuation of the tropes and clichés of Michael Bay’s movies. I’m also not sold on Stephen Amell (of Arrow fame) as Casey Jones. That show has largely tailed off in my estimations and the acting was never stellar to begin with, but maybe that’s my previous experience biasing my viewpoint, he could work well within the movie.

All in all, I am excited for this film despite my scepticism. If they utilise the Turtles more, who were the best parts of the previous film, we could have a much better film than its predecessor. Dark and gritty Ninja Turtles would never have worked on the big screen and therefore it should take a leaf out of Marvel’s book and just make it fun. And from what we’ve seen so far, it certainly looks like it’s going that way.

 

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