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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Year: 2016
Studio: Paramount
Director: Dave Green
Producer: Michael Bay
Writer: Josh Appelbaum/André Nemec/Peter Laird/Kevin Eastman
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Laura Linney, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Stephen Farrelly, Gary Anthony Williams, Tony Shalhoub

It's hard to imagine what happened between the first, very successful Ninja Turtles reboot that came from Michael Bay's stable and this. Even though it only cost $10m more it tanked epically at the box office.

It's strange because it delivers everything a sequel should – it's a new story in the same universe, it introduces iterations of characters the fans supposedly love, it shows the characters in the thick of what they're known for instead of all the claggy setup of an origin story, and it has enough visual whizz-bangery to keep a clutch of VFX vendors in work for years. It's as if the only people who loved the original movie were 12 when it came out and because they were 14 when this sequel appeared they'd moved on.

This time, the guys are full-fledged New York crime fighters, all of them friends and informants to reporter April (Megan Fox), but some of them are sick of (as the title suggests) hiding in both the actual and the metaphorical shadows with their beloved New York having no idea it's only safe thanks to them.

But a strange substance might give them the chance to change forever when Shredder is sprung from custody during a prison transfer. He's in cahoots with scientist Baxter (Tyler Perry), who's developed teleportation technology to bust Shredder out.

But halfway to the transport point, Shredder is taken to another dimension where he meets another TMNT universe villain, Krang. Half squid/half brain and ensconced in a giant robotic suit, Krang sends Shredder back to retrieve three fragments of some doohickey/MacGuffin that will let him travel to and rule over Earth.

In return, he gives Shredder the mutagen that can transform humans to animals and back again. Raphael thinks it could be the secret to turning he and his brothers from freaks to something people can love but Leo forbids it, generating the requisite tension within the group and gives the movie the 'stronger together' theme.

But Shredder has already used it on the two dolts he shared his prison transfer wagon with, BeBop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), turning them into the rhino and warthog creatures TMNT nerds love from the show.

Joined by Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), the vigilante who worked for corrections and who was driving in the convoy from which Shredder was snatched, the battle is on to find or stop the fragments that will open Krang's portal to our world. And in true Michael Bay style (who returns as exec producer), Krang's arrival is a huge spherical machine called the Technodrome which comes through the portal one skyscraper-sized piece at a time and assembles itself in the sky like a mini Death Star over New York.

It's got thrills, spills, special effects, visual effects, light, colour, humour and movement. Critics hated it, but it's perfectly tooled for the target audience. They must all just have gone to the beach that weekend instead.

And in a continuing story about how actors – even great ones – need to pay their bills, Laura Linney shows up as a tough and competent police commissioner, playing it completely straight talking about four CGI turtles.

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