Two more hours of turtle tedium come our way in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
The effects are better, the 3D is put to better use and the opening action beat — supervillain Shredder (Brian Tee) escapes from the cops — is well staged.
And motion capture animation — which is how Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek and Alan Ritchson become green-shelled Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael — has progressed far beyond Gollum in the Hobbit movies. It’s amazing what Chinese money and Hollywood know-how can manage.
But it’s still just a patience-testing bauble for anybody over the age of 12. The Turtles, in this latest incarnation, were and remain shiny but stupid entertainment for kids.
This time, there’s a corrupt scientist (Tyler Perry) helping martial arts monster Shredder. And they’re both aiding an alien invader, a “wad of chewing gum with a face” voiced by Brad Garrett. Something to do with teleportation abd world conquest.
The police chief (Laura Linney) doesn’t know about the turtles. A plucky corrections officer (Stephen Amell) with mad hockey stick skillz is about to meet them — and that hottie TV reporter who hangs with them, played by Megan Fox.
The Turtles sneak into a Knicks game, feud and have to figure out how to cooperate to foil this latest threat to New York.
“It’s the different points of view that makes the team strong,” Splinter, the wise “sensei” rat voiced by Tony Shalhoub counsels.
“What would Vin Diesel do?” a turtle wonders.
It’s still nigh on impossible for actors to actually register under that animation, and they certainly aren’t doing the digitized stunts that the siblings manage. It’s more animation than performance, or seems that way.
A lowbrow kid’s movie (with swearing and lots of violence) like this makes you appreciate the actor’s art and commitment. Fox, backed into a career corner, gives her character everything she’s got. Linney fights back the embarrassment. Will Arnett tries underplaying his comic relief cameraman, given the credit for saving the city in the last movie because the turtles have to stay in “the shadows.”
And Perry? Hamming through lines like “ELIMINATE those Turtles!” isn’t going to keep him out of a dress.
As comic book franchises go, this one skews younger. If you’re seeing it out of nostalgia for the books and the old TV series, maybe it’s time to take stock of your movie habits. Kids? They’ll appreciate the attempts at wisecracks, the limp 3D ninja action and the PG-13 profanity. They’re not supposed to know any better.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Cast: Megan Fox, Laura Linney, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Will Arnett
Credits: Directed by Dave Green, script by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec. A Paramount/Nickelodeon release.
Running time: 1:52