The 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie reboot was a sizable commercial success despite, in general, not being well-received by critics – an outcome that’s admittedly not uncommon to TMNT producer Michael Bay on his own directorial efforts, in particular those of the Transformers variety. Whereas TMNT (2014) went through multiple reshoots and script rewrites in response to fan criticisms before reaching theaters, it’s been smoother sailing for the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows in pre-production; as, thus far, Turtles fans have responded better to the next installment in this franchise.
One of the key changes that the minds behind Out of the Shadows – including, director Dave Green (Earth to Echo), TMNT producer Brad Fuller, and screenwriters Josh Applebaum and André Nemec – made from the previous TMNT installment was to include more screen time for the Turtles themselves. The screen chemistry between Turtles motion-capture actors Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), and Alan Ritchson (Raphael) was among the better-received elements of the 2014 TMNT reboot – and there will indeed be more of that on display in the sequel, according to Fuller.
As Fuller told us when we interviewed him about the TMNT sequel:
The first movie was one-third turtles, two-thirds human. This one is two-thirds turtles, one-third human it feels like. This is a Turtle-centric story with human elements, as opposed to the first one was the opposite.
Fuller went on to reaffirm that Out of the Shadows will also be ‘bigger’ than the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, in terms of the action and spectacle on display:
But again, I want to be very clear. We have huge action sequences because my partner is Michael Bay. I can’t make an action sequence like the snow chase in the first one and come up with something less in the second movie. Michael is not going to say, “Hey, that’s going to workfor me, guys.” He said, “You guys better come up with something bigger and better than that, and it has to deliver.” You keep going back to him and Michael will say, “Well, this can work, but I think you need to add this and that.”
Paramount Pictures’ marketing campaign for Out of the Shadows to date has supported the claim that the TMNT sequel is more Turtle-centric, in addition to featuring bigger set pieces – with action sequences that revolve around airplanes, tanks, highway chases, and the alien villain Krang’s (Brad Garrett) Technodrome attacking New York City, among other things. Combine that with a greater emphasis on fan-favorite characters from TMNT cartoon TV series, video games and comic books past – including, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), making their live-action debut – and a reduced presence for human players such as April O’Neil (Megan Fox) in the Out of the Shadows trailers, and early signs suggest the TMNT sequel should feel more like the Turtles’ (and friends) movie, first and foremost.
Fuller likewise said that Out of the Shadows embraces what worked best in the 2014 TMNT movie, resulting in a sequel that could appeal to both the reboot’s fans and detractors:
So if people liked the first movie, they will love this movie because the action is bigger and better. If they liked the tone of the scenes like the elevator scene and the Turtles cutting up in the first movie, this gives that much more. In this movie the turtles are in the first second of the movie all the way to the end. The last movie they came in, I think it was minute 14. The last movie was more of April’s story and the turtles were a part of it. This is a full turtle movie.
Out of the Shadows, like the 2014 TMNT movie, will be Rated PG-13, but the sequel does appear to embrace a more consistently playful tone than its predecessor. That also means that Out of the Shadows should include its fair share of juvenile humor; after all, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise’s primary demographic remains that of the martial arts action-loving under-18 crowd in general. Nevertheless, those filmgoers who are game for a “big”, splashy, and on the whole properly goofy Turtles adventure may find what they’re looking for with Out of the Shadows, by the look (and sound) of the TMNT sequel at this point.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows opens in U.S. theaters on June 3rd, 2016.