After a great opening that reintroduces our titular quartet of heroes in winning fashion, Out of the Shadows sets about laying out its (very) generic plot; scientist Baxter Stockman (a fun Tyler Perry) breaks Shredder out of prison and the villain finds himself teaming up with Krang, who wants to invade Earth (because reasons). Meanwhile, the emergence of a Retro-Mutagen means the Turtles have a shot at becoming human.
That last part is an interesting sub-plot that could potentially lead to some great character moments, but the film proves it isn’t all that interested in it. With a running time of 112 minutes, Out of the Shadows is a very brisk watch. In some ways that works to its advantage; you’re never too far away from a chuckle-worthy joke (of which Will Arnett’s returning Vern Fernwick gets a solid amount) or a well-put together action scene, the standout of which comes in the first act’s entertaining chase sequence.
However, this also means that the film never slows down enough to allow story arcs to properly develop. There are multiple points in Out of the Shadows where it feels like characters have skipped a couple of important character beats for no other reason than the story demanded it. In particular, the ramifications of what the film would have you believe are major disagreements between Leonardo and his brothers are never felt, and the ultimate resolution of the Turtles possibly becoming human storyline is deeply unsatisfying.
Thankfully, director Dave Green has the camaraderie of the mutant heroes (and also new additions Bepop and Rocksteady) to fall back on, and that’s where Out of the Shadows is at its most fun. The personalities of these characters really shines through the impressive CGI, and it’s the main reason why the film just about hangs together.
Others don’t fare as well; Stephen Amell is likeable enough as Casey Jones, but the character goes from cop to Turtle-trusting vigilante faster than it takes Oliver Queen to draw an arrow from his quiver. The potential romance between Jones and Megan Fox’s April O’Neil is also as laughable as it is unnecessary. Then there’s the villains themselves; this is easily the dumbest, unthreatening version of Shredder we’ve seen on screen – he doesn’t even get a single fight scene – and while Krang impresses on a visual level, the same can’t be said for his ultimate endgame which shares its DNA with all too many other blockbusters.
There’s definitely fun to be had with Out of the Shadows, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel fails to maximise the potential of the franchise.