The sequel to the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a huge job to do. The original film was a train wreck. Produced by Michael Bay it didn’t give us anywhere near enough of the stars of the film, instead focusing on the boring human characters, Megan Fox’s April O’Neil. So how did this sequel, Out Of The Shadows, fare?
Well compared to the first movie this is a huge step forward. The first thing that has to be said is that they did address some of the big problems. We get far more of the turtles, and these are such iconic pop culture characters. Leo, Raph, Donny, and Mikey are hugely popular to whole generations of people. With more screen time for the turtles comes less screen time for April, and that’s a good thing. In the first film she just wasn’t interesting, and was given a stupid back-story with the turtles. Here that’s barely touched on. Even more importantly it means less screen time for Megan Fox, and frankly she’s not good in the role. The other big change was with Shredder. In the original he had no real human character, being reduced to a suit of armour. In Out of the Shadows he’s far better. He’s played by Brian Tee who makes him the Shredder we all know. The film doesn’t quite stick the landing with Shredder, but I’ll get back to that later.
First we have to talk about the plot. When the Shredder escapes custody along with criminals Bebop and Rocksteady he sets about trying to create a portal to summon Krang to Earth. It is an incredibly contrived story, and they get by on some huge conveniences and some lazy story writing, but it is for the most part entertaining. The script really captures the essence of the four turtles, and their presence really makes the film hugely watchable. So whilst they may not have produced the best story in the world, they did manage to write the characters in a way that felt very true to what we know of them.
Out of the Shadows also introduces several big fan favourite characters. Firstly we get Casey Jones, a vigilante who joins the turtles in their quest to stop Shredder. Stephen Amell, who I’m a big fan of for his work on Arrow, plays him and he does a good job. However the character does feel rather one dimensional, and that is more of a fault with the writing. But he’s a positive addition to the franchise. Joining the Shredder is criminals Bebop and Rocksteady who get transformed into a Warthog and Rhino to help fight the turtles. The look awesome in the film, and get some really cool scenes. Finally we get the alien Krang, and this is a character that doesn’t really work for me. I felt like he could have been used better in a third film, because when he arrives, they just write Shredder, who was so good, out of the film when he could have provided more of a challenge for the turtles.
This is an action film, so the action set pieces are important. And there are quite a few good ones, but mainly in the first two thirds of the film. Casey Jones gets a couple of good action scenes, and there’s a big one with the turtles taking on Bebop and Rocksteady on a plane. However as we get to the end of the film it just turns into a bit of a CGI mess. They sadly repeat the same kind of thing as the last film with the turtles facing a robotic person high up in the sky. But prior to that, I was onboard.
And that weak ending wasn’t enough to ruin my entertainment of the film as a whole. The turtles were great, and it’s always good to see character you love on the big screen. You really felt their distinct personalities. So whilst the plot was stupid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a fun, entertaining popcorn flick.