As poorly written, banal, and unexciting as you could imagine, it’s telling that by far the best “sequence” of Out of the Shadows is its animated end credits, the bright and flashy letters accompanied by the classic theme song. What precedes these thrilling end titles is a weirdly plotted, bloated mess of a movie. The plot revolves around the evil Krang hijacking Shredder’s prison breakout and teleporting him to some alter-dimension (his plan culminates in a Man of Steel-esque finale, although Out of the Shadows lacks Snyder’s visual bravura).
The movie starts with action and never stops, and although some would cite this as a positive, it results in a picture that feels like little more than a green-tinted blur; forget any semblance of characterization. In fact, it’s telling how little these filmmakers care about their four heroes given that the same internal struggle from the first film (a struggle that movie resolved despite its painful mediocrity) is replicated here, albeit given a third of the screen time. Once again, hot-headed and impulsive Raphael gets into a dispute with cool, logical (and, in this movie, downright ugly) Leonardo, and this results in a rift forming in the team (“We may be brothers, but we sure aren’t a team,” Leo says somewhere late in the second act, a line that I’m 80% sure was in the first movie verbatim). On the action front things aren’t any livelier (although the “plane catch” set piece pictured above is pretty fun). Would it kill the filmmakers to devise ways for these ninja turtles to use their ninja weapons? The brothers spend the entire movie with super cool weapons strapped to their back or tucked in their waistband while they go around kicking and punching in a tired fashion.
It’s clear the powers that be wanted a “fun” sequel to its relatively grim predecessor, but Out of the Shadows’ attempts at levity fall painfully flat. The filmmakers seem to have no idea what to do with Will Arnett (and he seems to have no idea what to do either), Megan Fox proves for a second time that she is horribly miscast as April O’Neill, Johnny Knoxville’s welcome voice is long gone, and Stephen Amell (of Arrow fame) is trying so hard to be aloof-n-goofy Casey Jones that you can almost see his veins popping out of his forehead (and on some occasions, you can). There isn’t an ounce of wit here. I wish this movie had stayed in the shadows.