It seems like most people seem to have taken a pretty negative stance on this iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember watching the trailer for the sequel in a crowded theater and hearing several audience members groan in annoyance. Part of this probably has something to do with Michael Bay’s involvement as a producer. While you can definitely feel his touch on the finished product, I actually enjoyed 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles more than I thought I would. So I was cautiously looking forward to its sequel and I’m pleased to say that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is even better than its predecessor. This is certainly not high art, but it’s a summer blockbuster that understands its audience and never oversteps its bounds. Add in some decent humor and a few cool action set pieces and you’ve got a pretty fun time at the movies.

After saving the world from total destruction one year ago, our favorite turtles have remained out of the public’s eye. Aside from a select few, no one knows of their existence. Having made a deal with the turtles, Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) has taken credit for saving the city. But when a police transport of the villain Shredder (Brian Tee) goes wrong, the turtles must spring back into action and prevent him from following the orders of the evil mastermind Krang (Brad Garrett). The turtles have the help of April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), but Shredder has an army of his own, including the Foot Clan and a pair of dimwitted criminals, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus).

Directed by Dave Green, the film relies heavily on CGI and while this can often be seen as a negative in modern filmmaking, it actually works surprisingly well here. This is a franchise that doesn’t need to strive for realism and it’s a good thing that Green treats the material like a live-action cartoon. Because so much of the film is CGI, it usually doesn’t feel out of place either; the turtles and their villains might not look real, but fit perfectly alongside one another. And these visual effects allow the filmmakers to attempt some over-the-top action sequences that couldn’t be done in a more grounded action movie. Shredder’s escape from police custody is a lot of fun to watch, as is an awesome sequence that showcases the turtles jumping out of a plane and onto another. It’s only in the third act and the climactic battle against Krang where the action begins to grow stale.

It seems that lately, some blockbusters have tried to take themselves too seriously. There aren’t many live-action, big-budget action movies aimed solely at kids, so this one definitely stands out from the pack. I must be clear: this is far from a good film. It’s immature, forgettable and sloppy, but it does have a nice sense of humor and an overall feeling of fun that carries throughout most of the film’s runtime. Sometimes it’s refreshing to watch a movie that knows exactly what it is and achieves what it sets out to do. Grab some popcorn, candy and a large beverage of your choice. This is some enjoyable dumb summer entertainment.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows receives 2.5/4

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