Lots of people were disappointed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot a couple years ago, but while it certainly had room for improvement, I enjoyed it. After seeing OUT OF THE SHADOWS, I’m not surprised that most people are saying they enjoy this one more. The success Paramount and Nickelodeon are having with the sequel is likely due in large part to the side characters who were added.
While the 90s live-action TMNT films brought in Casey Jones in its first installment, he joins this series here in the second film, and he’s a welcomed addition to the group of heroes. Stephen Amell was well-cast here. Anyone who has seen CW’s ARROW knows he’s got the physical prowess, and it’s clear that the Canadian actor knows his way around hockey equipment. They didn’t oversell the potential romance between Casey Jones and April O’Neil. They could’ve actually taken it up a notch or two with the flirting after their initial meeting. Whether or not Casey got friend-zoned or not is left to be seen, his presence gives the group another fun, badass hero whose vulnerability as a human certainly helps raise the stakes. That’s an area where the 1990 film and the 2014 version both do something that we didn’t see here, is that in those films, the Turtles actually get shell-shocked. The Turtles leap out of planes, fly over waterfalls, jump out of speeding vehicles and it’s tough to get the sense that they might get hurt, which isn’t such a huge problem, but without Casey Jones, the bad guys would seem less dangerous.
And the bad guys squad definitely gains some major players for the franchise starting in this film.
Rocksteady and Bebop were a hugely welcome addition. Their origins left something to be desired, but once you get beyond that, long time TMNT fans should be pleased with the results. These dumb-as-rocks henchmen definitely prove to be as dangerous as an anthropomorphic warthog and rhino with criminal records should be. I wish they had been a little more successful in some of their fight scenes, perhaps even adding some foot soldiers in with them to get taken out by some reckless behavior on their parts, but the look and voice-over work were better than I had expected.
Something I wish I hadn’t heard about before going into the film because I would’ve appreciated the surprise was the presence of Krang. A huge part of the beloved television series, the inclusion of the disembodied-and-reembodied brain from Dimension X was awesome to see on the big screen. They made Krang as badass as he deserved, and having the Technodrome play a significant role was also some great fan service.
I loved what they did with Baxter Stockman by including him as a side character who was certainly on the side of the villains but wasn’t directly involved in the fight. Tyler Perry felt very natural in the role, though he maybe could’ve been a bit nerdier and perhaps a bit more sinister. Stockman deserves to be a part of this series just as much as Casey Jones and Krang do, and I really hope that he continues to get utilized for the third installment.
And there really should be a third installment.
What I really liked about the ending of the film, without giving many spoilers, is that it’s different than how the 90s films handled their endings. This felt more like what we got from the cartoons, where the villains aren’t dead at the end of the story, but their threat was neutralized. In the 1990 version, Shredder wasn’t just stopped, he got crushed. And when we got a Frankenstein version of him in the sequel to that one, he got buried under a destroyed pier and drowned. It’s like what happened with the 1989 Batman, where the sequels were limited because The Joker fell to his death before the credits rolled, destroying hopes of arguably the most iconic villain showing up in a sequel. I was really glad that OUT OF THE SHADOWS didn’t make the same mistake.
As an added bonus, the credits at the end of the film was more fan service, where they gave us a remake of the beloved theme song from the 90s cartoons.
If Megan Fox being in the first film bothered you, then you’re probably still going to have an issue with this film, but I think she did fine as April O’Neil. Sure, there are better options, but she shouldn’t be the difference between someone liking the movie and hating it. She’s less involved this time around, though not by much, and we get more of Will Arnett doing a great job as you’d expect from him. The plot was decent, we get more of the struggle to become a team with the various personalities, and the action was pretty good despite probably not living up to what the first film accomplished in that respect. All in all, with the key additions to the cast and the slight drop in quality fight scenes, the film ranks slightly higher than its predecessor.
My rating: 84 out of 100