Megan Fox - April O’Neil
Stephen Amell - Casey Jones
Pete Ploszek - Leonardo
Alan Ritchson - Raphael
Noel Fisher - Michelangelo
Jeremy Howard - Donatello
Will Arnett - Vern Fenwick
Brian Tee - Oroku Saki/ The Shredder
Tyler Perry - Dr. Baxter Stockman
Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly - Rocksteady
Gary Anthony Williams - Bebop
Tony Shalhoub - Splinter (voice)
Brad Garrett - Krang (voice)
Laura Linney - Police Chief Rebecca Vincent
Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Comedy/Comic Books
Running Time - 112 Minutes
A year has passed since the Ninja Turtles saved New York City from the evil Shredder (Brian Tee) and the Foot Clan. Although the Turtles would love to live amongst the public, they know humans will fear them - allowing April O’Neil’s (Megan Fox) cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) take the credit and making him a citywide hero. As they continue to wait in the shadows in case more people need saving, April lets them in on the fact that the Foot Clan is planning on breaking out Shredder from prison with the help of scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry). Even though the Turtles try to stop the escape, they’re shocked to see that Shredder has managed to teleport himself out of danger. This teleportation leads Shredder to Dimension X, where he meets Krang (Brad Garrett) - a slimy alien who wants to rebuild the Technodrome and conquer Earth with the help of Shredder. Shredder has also come across a canister of ooze - the same ooze that turned the Turtles into the humanoids that they’re now become - using it to turn Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) into a giant warthog and Rocksteady (Sheamus) into a giant rhinoceros. Joined by suspended corrections officer, now vigilante, Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), the Turtles and April plan on stopping Shredder and Krang from achieving their devious goals.
- TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS was a film that left me feeling nostalgic since it resembled the late-1980s original cartoon with its childlike charm, silly action, and an abundance of characters who have finally made their cinematic debuts after five cinematic adaptations. A much better film than the 2014 reboot, OUT OF THE SHADOWS is a sequel that gets the origin story out of the way and is allowed to be over the top and build its own legacy away from previous adaptations. I’m not saying the script is fantastic or anything, but the characters felt and acted like the characters who I remembered. And the actual premise reminded me of a few cartoon episodes where the Turtles, April, and even Casey Jones would try to stop Shredder and Krang from taking over the world. The screenplay was written for children in mind, but it didn’t feel like it was insulting older fans who would be familiar with these characters either. It was colorful and energetic - which I liked more than I really wanted to.
- Speaking of the characters, how cool is it to finally see some of these characters in a live-action feature for once? No offense to THE SECRET OF THE OOZE’s Tokka and Rahzar, but finally getting Bebop and Rocksteady as Shredder’s dumb lackeys put a smile on my face. And they acted pretty closely to their cartoon counterparts. Same with Krang, who I wish was in the film more, but I enjoyed what was done with him. Even Shredder, who felt out of place in the previous film, was much better characterized and actually given purpose and motivation this time out. Baxter Stockman was alright, although I have a feeling he’ll get more of a substantial role in the next film. Casey Jones was a nice addition to the story, being given cool moments in the film - especially towards the end. And the Turtles were pitch perfect, with each one getting their own character moments and acting very faithful to how audiences expect them to be.
- The direction by Dave Green was a step up from what Jonathan Liebesman did in the 2014 reboot. While still stylish and definitely a Michael Bay produced product [EXPLOSIONS!! ACTION!!], the sequel felt a bit more grounded and focused than the previous installments. Scenes flowed a lot better. The tone was more consistent. And for the most part, the visuals were slightly improved. Unlike Liebesman, it felt like Green knew exactly how he wanted to visually tell this story, as you can tell he was a fan of the original cartoon. The direction won’t win awards, but I thought Green showed some confidence behind the lens.
- I liked the action sequences here. The Turtle Van/prison escape sequence had some cool moments, especially seeing the Turtle Van in action for once. The river sequence in Brazil matched the snow sequence in the previous film, with some nice visuals. The Krang sequence was also cool, as watching the Technodrome almost form into completion was pretty nifty. I think the film could have used more action really, but what we do get is memorable.
- The acting is slightly improved from the previous film. All the voice actors for the Turtles are great, as they capture the personalities of each one. Megan Fox is Megan Fox. She didn’t bother me, so I guess she was okay. Will Arnett is fine as Vern. Stephen Amell was charismatic as Casey Jones, playing the role more lighthearted than Elias Koteas did in the older films. It was great seeing him not play Oliver Queen. Gary Anthony Williams and WWE wrestler Sheamus do very well as Bebop and Rocksteady. They may have played the characters a bit too dumb, but I found them both likable in their roles. Tyler Perry is extremely hammy as Baxter Stockman, and I found his performance to be a mixed bag at times. Brian Tee doesn’t really get to do much as Shredder, but he’s more suitable here than he was in the last film. And Brad Garrett was cool as Krang. Neat cast that makes the most of what they’re given.
- Even though OUT OF THE SHADOWS is a better film than the 2014 film, it still has issues. The special effects still look odd to me. Honestly, nothing beats the practical effects of the 1990s films for me. The characters look how they’re supposed to, but I guess they feel a bit too cartoony for me. That’s the modern age of big budget films for you, I guess.
- OUT OF THE SHADOWS also introduces too many new characters, really limiting the necessary screen time for the newer folk. Baxter doesn’t get more to do than just act like a prototype mad scientist. Bebop and Rocksteady get more to do, but miss a chunk of screen time in order to highlight other characters. Even the meeting of Shredder and Krang seems a feel too easy and too quick, as their union only seems to be at play since fans would expect the alliance. And Krang disappears for much of the film, only really having a major presence during the final act. Plus other characters, like Police Chief Rebecca Vincent only come across as idiotic, denying the presence of mutated creatures even though she sees them with her own two eyes. I’m glad to see that Platinum Dunes wants to do some great fan service to make up for their previous reboot. But cramming so much into one film only proves that less is sometimes more.
- OUT OF THE SHADOWS is also a film that’s more style than substance. Yes, many audiences aren’t expecting something deep in a film involving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But the 1990 adaptation proved that you can do a Turtles film with heart and soul, while catering to all audiences in an intelligent manner. I wasn’t expecting much out of this film and I had fun with the fluff and goofiness of it all. And while it was a bit more mature than the previous film, with themes of “wanting to fit in”, I don’t think younger audiences would be turned off by more substance. Especially judging by the success of the 1990 film that lasts even until today.
THE FINAL HOWL
I know some people are hating on it, but I had fun with TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS. It’s a definite improvement over the 2014 reboot, resembling the original cartoon to create a nostalgic effect for older audiences, while re-introducing younger fans with characters many of us grew up loving. Dave Green’s direction is confident. The acting is mostly solid. The action works. And while the special effects are still behind the practical effects used for the series in the 1990’s, I’m sure children will love the colorful characters. OUT OF THE SHADOWS doesn’t cater to my audience, but I still found things I got a kick of. Sue me, but I dug this for the most part. Probably my guilty pleasure of 2016 so far.