Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is what happens when fans get everything they wanted, yet still end up disappointed. I was only sort of on board with the 2014 Michael Bay reboot, but couldn’t deny my excitement. Even if I didn’t grow up with the animated series, I still knew the importance of well known cartoon villains on the big screen. The Turtles are still ugly CGI roid monsters, but it’s not as distracting as before. Despite Out of the Shadows clearly being made for fans, they once again spell out their names and character traits TMNT style. More characters means an endless amount of plot threads that only sort of come together. Leonardo is still a lousy leader making poor decisions, Raphael is still at odds with him, Donatello is still spouting techno babble, and Michelangelo is still eating a ton of pizza. Only now they deal with the titular problem of wanting to fight out of the shadows.
They go to a New York basketball game for some reason, where we get the ridiculous information that Will Arnett’s annoying comic relief Vern has taken credit for defeating Shredder. Brian Tee now plays an unrecognizable Shredder who’s constantly helmetless and ridiculously frozen before seeing any action. Karai is also recast, but at least the Foot Clan are ninja again. Shredder is given a purple mutagen by the actual antagonist Krang. He looks just like the cartoon with his pink tentacle brain appearance and somewhat accurate robot body, but Krang comes completely out of nowhere. His complicated plan is to build his Technodrome from Dimension X with Shredders help. So Tyler Perry as TCRI scientist Baxter Stockman (who also appears for the first time) gives the mutagen to dimwitted thugs Bebop & Rocksteady.
Although overly crude, it is great to finally see the CGI warthog and rhino fight the Turtles. Even if their reason for becoming animals is convoluted and their Turtle plane fight is one scene in the entire movie. The souped up Turtle van is cool, but also used once. Splinter is still around, if a little less important. Megan Fox returns to play April O’Neil, but it’s like she’s not even trying anymore. Naturally ending up in a sexy school girl outfit for a very forced reason. With all these well known Turtles characters, that just leaves Casey Jones. Arrow himself Stephen Amell sounds good on paper, but he’s easily the most botched character. Apart from his vigilante hockey mask and sports weapons, Casey is not a whiny clean cut police officer. He only wears the mask once and is the one who faces Bebop & Rocksteady in the end. Meanwhile, the Turtles tie up the pointless shadows subplot by teaming up with the police to stop Krang. It’s more fun than the previous movie, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows only earns my “Cowabunga!” with fanservice alone.
Preceded by: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)