“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” brings us up to speed with the four brothers following the events of the first movie. Their existence is still a secret to most of the world. Ace television reporter, April O’Neil (Megan Fox), is still an investigative journalist while her sometimes cameraman, Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), has become an international name since being credited with saving the day in the previous film. Splinter (Peter D. Badalamenti II/Tony Shalhoub) has taken to social media for new meditative practices and Shredder (Brian Tee) is now in police custody.
With the addition of the brainless thugs, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly), and thugless brain, Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), the evil and already numerous Foot Clan has been reinforced. In a wacky twist unforeseen by anyone new to the turtleverse, Shredder even makes a deal with an extraterrestrial by the name of Krang to ensure domination over the planet. Yeah. It’s a thing. If a movie involving talking turtles who practice martial arts doesn’t shake you, but the sudden appearance of an alien does… well, I don’t know what to tell ya.
New good guys are introduced as well. Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) is a corrections officer with dreams of making detective who’s in charge of the Shredder’s prisoner transport between facilities and police Chief Vincent (Laura Linney), who is a high ranking official who spends most of the movie being too by-the-books to listen to the other good guys.
“TMNT: OotS” is somewhat of a toss up for me. The sequel is a considerable improvement over the 2014 franchise reboot, but there are a number of things that hurt it as well. Fox’s April O’Neil still doesn’t quite fit right, but her portrayal is better received here. Perhaps I’ve just come to accept her in the role. Probably not. Stephen Amell’s Casey Jones is a real hit or miss. For all of his charm and wit, the delivery of what should be memorable moments for the character seem to fall short at times. Shredder feels underutilized once Krang is introduced, but we don’t get a lot time with the alien either.
Speaking of underutilized… Karai.
Plot points of interest get mentioned once and are quickly forgotten while the pace of the movie seems better this time with the caveat being that things just sort of happen to advance the plot. Lost the bad guys? Here’s a GPS tracker.
It’s easy to nitpick the movie for all of its flaws, but that’s not to say that it isn’t entertaining. It actually does have good moments. Vern “The Falcon” Fenwick is definitely one of those good moments and is as over the top as it sounds. We as the audience know Arnett’s character is not really a hero. Arnett knows he’s not really a hero and HE knows that WE know he’s not really a hero. So his “wink wink” portrayal has Vern really cashing in on his newfound stardom is one of the highlights of the film. I would consider Perry’s Dr. Stockman to be in this highlight category as well. He comes across as every bit the underappreciated genius that you think he should be, complete with an awkward signature laugh.
As good as the human/mutant interactions are, the movie really shines when it’s just the mutants on-screen. Individual personalities shine and their banter seems to take on an edge of wit that the human element just doesn’t have.
If there is one thing that I found severely lacking, it’s in the film’s resolution. It just kind of ends. Shredder and Krang get set aside for future installments of the franchise no doubt and nothing really happens to Bebop and Rocksteady. Even the whereabouts of Stockman & Karai are left to the imagination of the viewer. The turtles themselves finally get recognized for what they’ve been doing all this time without anyone knowing, but that’s about it. Credits. I’m not sure what would have made the film feel complete, but I know I left the theater feeling like there should’ve been more. Still, it’s an entertaining movie geared towards kids as well as those nostalgic for the 90s animated series.