Continuing the Franchise
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a film that meets all the standard requirements of a summer blockbuster. Sequel? Check. Based on a preexisting property? Check. Jokes for the kids? Action for general audiences? Nostalgia for the fans? Checks all across the board. While watching the movie I could see how everything was working together, it just wasn’t working for me. Based on your feelings for 2014’s Turtles reboot, Out of the Shadows will work for most as either a step up in quality or at least maintaining the status quo.
Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo are all back, continuing their saga from the first film. Splinter, April O’Neil (Megan Fox), Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and Shredder (recast this time around by Brian Tee) are also back, though it much smaller roles than the first film. New to the story, and the thrust of the plot, are Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett), as well as fan favorites Beebop and Rocksteady.
The Turtles are the Stars
Much like the first film, Out of the Shadows is good whenever the four brothers are the center of attention. You can definitely tell that the filmmakers took to heart the fan response from the first film. Each turtle has their own defined personality, both in dialogue and fighting style, and they are an absolute joy to see interact together. In relation to the turtles being the star, the action in this film is a fun time. I can totally see a new generation of fans picking their favorite turtle, owning their colors, and defending them among their friends. The movie works almost as a reboot of the 80’s cartoon.
Unfortunately, while having similarities to a cartoon can play to your advantage (goofy tone, fun action), there is the extra weight that comes with trying to give too much fan service. I feel as though Beebop and Rocksteady work in this story, they are henchman who crack jokes. They are fun. On the other hand, Krang and Casey Jones really don’t have anything going on here. Unless you have some prior relationship to this property, the inclusion of Casey Jones makes zero sense. He’s a guy, with a hockey stick/mask, that’s about it. Likewise, Krang is featured in one or two small scenes before busting into the big third act action scene. There isn’t enough time spent with the villain to really feel his threat, he’s just a big goofy-brain-villainy thing.
Goofy may just be the best word to describe Out of the Shadows. It is having fun, which is incredibly important in a film like this, but it can’t stay committed to its lighter tone, with the inclusion of Megan Fox really bringing this one down. One thing to be said about Out of the Shadows (that couldn’t be said about the first film) is that it is committed to its goofiness. I mean, Beebop, Rocksteady, four Ninja Turtles, a mad scientist portrayed by Tyler Perry, this movie has to be goofy. While it is fun to see these characters brought to life, it means that at least half of the film are just CGI creations interacting with each other, at this point it just becomes an animated film.
The film is not inherently bad, its not offensive in anyways (unlike its Transformers counterparts), but there is really nothing remarkable to be praised about the film either. The four turtles work, and the action is fun. Unfortunately, the story is extremely bland, and the good action gets brought down by mediocre CGI. Fans of the Turtles will definitely find joy in seeing beloved characters brought the big screen. For everybody else, your mileage with Out of the Shadows depends on your enjoyment of Turtle-based jokes.