Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael are back in the sequel to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Out of the Shadows furthers the adventures of the Turtle brothers as it takes place around a year after the events of the first film. This new movie is far more goofy and silly than the previous movie, making it also far more confident in itself as well. While I did enjoy the movie, it does suffer from some problems that prevent the movie from being great.
Back when the 2014 film was announced, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding it. The Turtles would be aliens, computer generated and April O’Neil would be played by Megan Fox. While the alien concept was quickly dismissed, the latter two elements remained. Megan Fox wasn’t nearly as bad in the role as everyone I think expected her to be, but the CG Turtles is what people still couldn’t forgive. I’ve talked with various people and listened to many of them discuss their hatred for Paramount and Nickelodeon doing away with practical costumes and instead replacing the Turtles with giant hulking CG characters. While the Turtles have been slimmed down and made smaller in this version, there is still a passionate fan base that won’t even attempt to watch these movies.
I grew up with Ninja Turtles and I’ve enjoyed many different versions of them. The original film back in 1990 was alright, but didn’t impress me. Its sequel was ok, but the third Turtles film was easily my favorite of the original series. If you blinked you may have missed the live action TV series as well. Various cartoon series and comics would come out, and I treat this new movie like seeing a new artist taking over the series, so the CG elements don’t bother me at all, they are merely another tool used to convey these characters.
The 2014 movie suffered greatly as the Turtles were barely in it, and Shredder was used in a very limited manner. The movie concentrated on the human characters far too much and it took far too long for the Turtles to be on screen. Making Splinter learn Ninjutsu from a book was also a poor choice, but how April knew of the Turtles prior to the mutation was really interesting. Out of the Shadows has far more scenes with the Turtles and limits the human characters quite a bit, but in my opinion, not enough. Shredder is used far better here but near the end of the film, his resolution in the movie is poorly executed.
While the Turtles are still CG creations, much of the first film’s criticisms were addressed. The Turtles are smaller, more colorful and far more giving of their personalities. Splinter, however, doesn’t look great and is barely in the movie. Bebop and Rocksteady, fan favorites from the cartoon series, finally make it into a Ninja Turtles movie and despite some odd animations and some facial features on Rocksteady, they both look exactly as they should. Krang, despite his voice, is wonderful and is here complete with his giant robot body. It’s safe to say that Krang is exactly as I imagined he would be in a live action movie.
The human element to the movie is mostly hit-and-miss. Megan Fox is capable here as April, as is Will Arnett as her ex-camera man Vernon ‘The Falcon’ Fenwick. His scene with the camera wire is fantastic and hilarious. Tyler Perry is here as Baxter Stockman, but I found him to be far more annoying than entertaining. Brian Tee as Shredder is fantastic, but I mentioned, his resolution in the end is just downright bad. Brittany Ishibashi as Karai was cast far too old and was fairly pointless in the movie. Now we come to Stephen Amell as Casey Jones. I liked his setup here as a prison transport guard, but I was very disappointed in his performance here. I’ve enjoyed his work on Arrow, but I felt he was totally miscast as Casey.
Visually, this movie is all over the place as some elements are just poorly done. The Turtles themselves look great and have some fantastic detail to them. Michelangelo has a pair of sunglasses hanging from his neck, and the clothing items they wear really showcase their love and obsession with human culture. I was sold on them wearing certain clothing items when I saw it in the 2014 film, but felt they just had too much going on with their designs and thankfully they simplified the outfits to take the ‘less is more’ approach to design. Bebop and Rocksteady are very uneven as while Bebop looks great, Rocksteady has a poorly designed head, most notably his lips.
There is quite a bit of the movie and some of its design elements that I just didn’t care for. Processes like identifying things are too quick, like Donatello scanning something and then have a complete write-up of what exactly it is. The first meeting of Shredder and Krang is over and done with far too quickly and made no sense at all in some ways. Too much of the movie is written in a way that everything is just a bit too convenient and it comes off just a bit too cheesy because of it. The resolution between the turtles and Krang is well done, but felt that the Shredder was essentially wasted in the final act, yet again.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a popcorn movie through and through. It is entertaining and visually, can be a very fun movie. I really enjoy any scene with the Turtles and feel they got their personalities just perfect. Splinter and Shredder are vastly wasted in the movie, and Krang, while looking awesome, is barely in the film. Bebop and Rocksteady are well used, and make a great debut here. The human characters are ok, but not terribly impressive. I liked the story here and felt it was tremendously better than the first film in nearly every way. Is this film perfect? or even remotely great? No. But if you just want a fun, silly movie that has good action, some hilarious moments, then you might just enjoy Out of the Shadows, just make sure to go in with low expectations.