On paper, Out of the Shadows tried really hard to correct the mistakes of the previous movie. Shredder is the main villain without question; he teams up with Krang, he has Baxter Stockman working for him, and he mutates Bebop and Rocksteady with their correct animals. So how did they still screw it up?!
After being arrested at the end of the first movie, Krang uses a teleporter to bring Shredder to him. What follows is a few minutes of exposition crammed down our throats, with Shredder blindly agreeing to Krang’s plan. I don’t understand why Shredder just takes Krang’s offer on faith, but there’s no time for him to even question it.
Anyway, Out of the Shadows kinda follows a string of episodes from the second season of the original cartoon – three pieces of a device must be collected and assembled which will allow Krang to pull the Technodrome into our dimension. To help Shredder fight the Turtles, he gives him a vial of mutagen to create his own mutants. But instead of using actual animals, Bebop and Rocksteady became a warthog and rhino because of an ancestral genetic animal? What the heck does that even mean? How hard would it be to say Baxter was also working on mutants and had these animals’ DNA available?
We also get Casey Jones in Out of the Shadows, but they totally waste the character. He’s one of the police officers transporting Shredder when he got away and wants to clear his name. He wears the mask for one scene, beats up a few Foot Clan ninjas, then gets recruited to the Turtles’ team because of April. And April, ugh… I can’t even go into it here. It’s Megan Fox, what else do I need to say that I haven’t already?
So the Turtles have a few existential crises—first is that the purple ooze can somehow make the Turtles human, and second, the Turtles can’t fight as a team. I honestly hate the first one – after coming off the movies that repeated “I love being a turtle!” it sucks seeing half the Turtles wishing they could became ordinary humans. Secondly, the not fighting as a team thing only came up in the second half and was resolved just because it was time to be. Literally, they put their hands together, called out each other’s personality trait, and that was it. Honestly, if they were going this route, they could have taken a lesson from Bebop and Rocksteady who were great friends and worked perfectly together. The main problem with that though is the Turtles only fought them once in a horrible-looking CGI fest where they didn’t even have any fun banter.
In the end, Shredder betrays Baxter Stockman, then is immediately betrayed by Krang in the same fashion, and the Turtles fight Krang on the flying Technodrome that mirrors the finale of the last movie down to the same drab color palette of the final enemy. The Turtles win and even get some recognition from the police for saving the city by—what the hell is Laura Linney doing in this movie?!
Overall, Out of the Shadows tries to correct the flaws of the previous movie, but in doing so cram way too much stuff in so that almost everything suffers. If they split this into two different films, I could see it working out better, but as it is, it’s a complete mess with a few positives that fails in everything it sets out to do.
If you want to see more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle goodness, check out my blog, where I’m reviewing each cartoon series, from the original through Rise. If you want even more mutant mayhem, why not check out Old School Evil, my books that were inspired heavily by the original Turtles cartoon.