There's something satisfying about hearing Tyler Perry, as mad scientist Baxter Stockman, say the words "Eliminate those turtles," but it's not quite novel enough to bring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows up to street level and out of the sewers.
The story has giant squid-like brain Krang (Brad Garrett) seizing Shredder (Brian Tee) in a robot fist and demanding that the NYC ninja/terrorist bring him through a wormhole to wreak havoc on humans. The movie caters to the little ones, but there's also adult fare here in the form of throwback ‘90s culture, with "Rump Shaker" now a dull children's party anthem.
And then there's Megan Fox, whose April O'Neil shows signs, in her first scenes, of developing into an actual character (she kind of comes off like Working Girl–era Melanie Griffith, which, yes, is weird). But then April immediately uses her sexuality to hack a scientist's computer and changes into a naughty schoolgirl costume. Is it part of the four-quadrant family-film strategy that fathers with young children feel invited to whistle at the screen?
One of the most original elements of the new string of TMNT movies is that the motion-capture technology has given actors who aren't A-list a shot at leading a studio tentpole. The Turtles -- played by Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Pete Ploszek (Leonardo) and Alan Ritchson (Raphael) -- are not household names. They are, however, great voices. It's a shame that the other actors aren't just dynamic voices back in a cartoon world, because the human elements become a letdown and the special effects feel like they've already been done before.