Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Parent Review

Teen and adult fans of these "heroes in a half-shell" may be thrilled to join their old friends for yet another rumble, however, young new-comers may want to stay out of the sewers for a while.

Overall B-

This sequel to the 2014 reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has the heroes in a hard shell returning to save society from yet another threat --this one involves other mutants.

Violence C-
Sexual Content B-
Profanity B-
Substance Use C+

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

Movie Review

The creators of the rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series (which started with the 2014 origin movie) are walking a fine line. They are working with a pop culture entity (anamorphic turtles that live in the sewers below New York City) initially engineered to entertain the Saturday morning cartoon crowd. Today the owners of this franchise still want those same fans, even though they are now two or three decades older, to stay engaged with these characters while at the same time making a blatant attempt to bring new 8-year-olds into the club. The outcome is a bizarre mix of serious action movie violence, Megan Fox (who plays a friend to the turtles) strutting her assets to gain favors from men, and jokes about flatulence and penis size.

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Our green champions, known as Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael (Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek and Alan Ritchson), open this adventure feeling frustrated. While they were instrumental in saving the city from an angry mob in the previous film, they still must live underground so as not to upset the general public. Their captivity, along with not being recognized for their valor, is becoming an increasingly divisive issue for them, especially when they see their human friend Vern (Will Arnett) being lavished with the praise they deserve.

Not to worry. Another opportunity for heroics is coming down the pipe. Turtle aficionados will be familiar with many of the antagonists presented in this tale. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) is a mad scientist who creates a serum that brings out the natural animal within the human psyche. Shredder (Brian Tee) returns to challenge the turtles as the evil overlord who tells Baxter what to do next. Finally, Krang (voice of Brad Garrett) is the baddest, evilest villain of the trio. With the help of his underlings, he will open a black hole allowing him to warp space and time… or at the very least causing chaos and catastrophe around the world. Borrowing a line from the movie, Krang’s visual appearance is best described as akin to a chewed piece of bubble gum. His disembodied head extends from the abdominal cavity of a giant, alien robot. Yup… that’s the part the eight-year-olds will think is cool—if they aren’t too grossed out.

Teaming up with journalist April O’Neil (Fox), these reptiles look like protagonist suitable for middle-school kids, however this movie holds serious content concerns for viewers that young. An opening chase scene with Shredder attempting to break free during a prison transfer depicts many law enforcement personnel vehicles being blown up. We also see a driver thrown out of his truck and landing on the roadway at high speed. Many other action scenes depict people engaging in physical confrontations with implied deaths, although injuries are rarely shown (one character is seen with a blackened eye). The intensity doesn’t always reach the point of that portrayed in other comic-book genre films, yet it still seems strangely out of place in a script spouting 3rd grade bully lines like, “playtime is over.”

Then there’s Megan Fox playing the once-innocent April who was one of the first “humans” to discover the turtles. In the opening act of this film, the news reporter demonstrates how a woman might use her sexuality for manipulative purposes when she steals a short skirt from a retailer and ties her shirttails into a navel-baring school-girl-gone-wrong outfit. The provocative look is intended to allow her to get close to a man for the purposes of extracting information.

Add a half-dozen profanities—thankfully mostly mild terms—and the mandatory fight against evil against the backdrop of New York City’s skyscrapers and you have a mediocre experience at best. For teen and adult fans of these “heroes in a half-shell”, you may be thrilled to join your old friends for yet another rumble. However, parents of young new-comers may want to hold off and stay out of the sewers for the time being.

Directed by Dave Green. Starring Stephen Amell, Megan Fox, Alessandra Ambrosio. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release June 3, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Parents Guide

How does this movie integrate a childish scenario with an adult action story? Do you feel this is an awkward mix? Do you think older audiences who enjoyed the Ninja Turtles as children would be unwilling to see a movie without additional violence and sexual content?

What role does April play in the Teenage Ninja Turtles’ life? Is she a friend? A mother? A romantic interest?

The turtles are supposed to be teenagers. What do these mutants represent within the time of life of a teenager? How does their environment (the sewers), their diet (pizza) and their inability to integrate with the outside world reflect issues some teens may face?

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