Cowabunga, the vigilante demi-gods on a half shell are back, and more inane and irritating than ever. Their antics make the 112 minutes it takes to watch this frenetic followup to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a torturous mindfuck for any sentient being over the age of infancy. Produced by Michael Bay — four words that should strike terror in the heart of every movie lover — the film is the latest chapter in a franchise everyone thought was buried until Bay resurrected it several years ago. Thanks for nothing, dude.
What’s the plot? I couldn’t find one in the script by returning screeenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec. Somerthing about a battle for world domination cooked up by nutso scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and Krang, a disembodied alien brain voiced by Brad Garrett. It’s really just an excuse for director David Green (Earth to Echo) to light a fire under the shells of our reptilian heroes and the motion-capture actors who play them. Fleeing the shadows of their home in the sewers, the turtles bust out, eager to let the public know they saved NYC in the last movie, a credit stolen by cameraman Vern (a wasted Will Arnett). He had his reasons. More than you can say for this movie, which exists only to score a few bucks off the kiddie market.
It’s action (and pizza) galore for Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher). The turtles are named after Renaissance master painters, but the movie is otherwise untouched by art. Like you’re surprised. Nothing shocked me more in this cheapo explosion of computer-generated effects than to spot an award-garlanded actress slumming in the crowd. No, I’m not talking about Megan Fox, who is back (often in schoolgirl fetish gear) collecting a paycheck as journalist April O’ Neill. I’m referring to Oscar-nominee Laura Linney, who shows up as NYC police commissioner Rebecca Vincent and isn’t even allowed to wear a mask to hide her shame. I guess chivalry is dead. So is this movie, a toxic byproduct of a film industry that keeps wrapping turds in ever-glossier packages and selling the stuff as fun for the whole family. My advice? Flush it.