April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and the turtles once again face their nemesis, Shredder (Brian Tee), who has employed Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) to create mutant henchmen using a Retro-Mutagen.
Shredder’s threat is once again hard to buy when the comics' inimitable ninja has been resigned to little more than a metal mute.
There was little reason to celebrate a sequel to 2014’s diabolical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But surprisingly, Out Of The Shadows is considerably better than its predecessor. At least, that is, for a third of its running time.
Headed to a Knicks game with steaming Pizza Hut box in tow, the green teens are introduced with on-screen name cards in an opening sequence that cares more about its mutant quartet than the entirety of Jonathan Liebesman’s previous film – a wise choice that grants the turtles a shred of compassion come the predictably overstuffed finale with Dimension X’s big tentacled bad, Krang (voiced by Brad Garrett).
If you’re one of the lucky ones who didn’t see 2014’s offering, don’t sweat it: a pre-basketball match newsreel sums up Shredder’s attack to the point that you needn’t ever bother. New York’s citizens may be shaken by what went before, but Shredder’s threat is once again hard to buy when the comics' inimitable ninja has been resigned to little more than a metal mute. Kudos, then, to Gary Anthony Williams and WWE’s Sheamus for busting a gut in trying to inject some fun as Shredder’s unfortunate warthog and rhino mutations Bebop and Rocksteady, their bumbling dimwittedness reminiscent of the 1987 cartoon series.
Looking less Flubber-y this time around, the heroes in a half shell fare better than their human counterparts. April O’Neil may have considerably more to say, but a scene involving a school uniform and Michelangelo’s (MVP Noel Fisher) ongoing, slightly creepy infatuation with her keeps Fox firmly in teen dream territory. Stephen Amell gives good cop as the peppy, hockey stick-wielding Casey Jones, even if his motives for turning vigilante are blurry at best, with Laura Linney the latest in a long line of esteemed actors (Tucci! Grammer! McDormand!) added to the Michael Bay-verse with little impact.
The slick first third may seem like a different franchise to the turtles’ 2014 outing, but Out Of The Shadows soon unravels as the Retro-Mutagen cements its status as yet another uninspired MacGuffin in yet another bland final act containing yet more people looking up at the sky. Krang is gleefully grim (“it’s like a chewed up piece of gum with a face!”), but, considering he and his exosuit barely feature, doesn’t deserve the final boss level-esque climax he is awarded.
Considerably better than its predecessor, the central four may give it their all but the people behind this franchise sadly don’t seem all that interested in their crime-fighting, pizza-eating heroes.