Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael are back to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil (Megan Fox), Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). After supervillain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (WWE Superstar Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly), to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater evil with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.
One's opinion of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' is going to depend largely on what one thought of the 2014 film. If you found something to enjoy in that movie, chances are you'll find something to enjoy in this sequel. If, however, you hated it with a passion, I don't think you're going to care much for this one either. In short, get ready for more of the same.
When we last left our heroes in a half shell, the evil Shredder (Brian Tee) had been arrested and now, as this movie opens, he's plotting an escape from prison via the help of scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry, acting as nerdy as he can). In an early, exciting action sequence, Shredder manages to escape – only to meet up with the even more villainous alien Krang (voice of Brad Garrett, doing his best 'evil Yoda' impression) and learn he needs Shredder to find two more pieces of a machine that will be used to open a portal to another dimension and allow him to invade the Earth. But Krang isn't the only new bad guy to pop up. Thanks to an alien compound given to him by Krang, Shredder is able to get Dr. Stockman to develop an ooze (hey, that's what they call it in the movie!) that transforms a pair of prison escapees (who were with Shredder during his escape) named Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly aka WWE wrestler Sheamus) into a walking/talking warthog and rhinoceros, respectively.
Now if the above sounds exciting to you, it's probably because you're aware that all these new villains were part of various prior adaptations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in both comic book and animated form. If, like me, you're brand-new to all these bad guys, you may have a much different reaction. I thought they were all too over-the-top and corny and actually thought the movie might have been better with only Shredder and his foot clan involved. But, as seems to be the 'rule of sequels' these days in Hollywood, it's never enough to have just one villain...so we get a bunch of them here.
While I didn't care much for the Turtles opposition this time out, I'll confess that a lot of the stuff happening on our heroes' end of things is fairly interesting. The development of Dr. Stockman's ooze – which turns humans into an animal form – also turns out to be able to have the opposite effect on the Turtles...meaning they have the opportunity to use it to turn themselves into humans. Seeing the four Turtles debate the idea and watching how it starts to break up their brotherhood with each other is a part of this film I wish had been delved into a bit more.
Another plus is the addition of TV's Arrow to the cast – Stephen Amell, who plays fan-favorite Casey Jones. Amell actually gets a little more to do here than either of the two returning co-stars – Megan Fox as April O'Neil and Will Arnett as Vern Fenwick – and while this is primarily an 'origin story' for the Jones character, we do get to see him fighting with a hockey stick in a couple of scenes, as well as him donning the hockey mask he's known for.
The biggest downside to this movie is primarily the same problem the first film had: an overuse/overdependence on CGI. Yes, obviously the Turtles need to be rendered with special effects (although their performances are still largely provided via motion capture from actors Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, and Alan Ritchson), but two of the three biggest action sequences in the movie – an elaborate plane crash sequence and the movie-ending battle with Krang – are so CGI-heavy, those two chunks of the movie are pretty close to being 100 percent computer animated. The result is a big part of the story that doesn't feel grounded in reality at all...as strange as saying that about a film that features walking/talking Turtles sounds.
Even though the movie has been slapped with a PG-13 rating (primarily for cartoonish violence...there's no blood in this film at all), this sequel is squarely aimed for older preteens and younger teenagers, and those in the age range from about 9 to 15 with a love for the Turtles are probably going to enjoy this film quite a bit. Is there anything in it for the rest of us? Well the filmmakers can't help but find an excuse to get star Megan Fox into a schoolgirl outfit in her first scene in the movie...so I suppose that's worth an extra half-star, right?
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' breaks out of its shell in this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack (potential viewers/owners will want to note that a 3D combo pack, a Ultra HD combo pack (minus the 3D version or DVD), and a gift pack (including the first movie on Blu-ray) are also available). The 50GB Blu-ray and dual-layer DVD are housed inside an eco-friendly keepcase along with an insert containing a code for both an UltraViolet and iTunes digital copy of the movie. A slipcover with artwork matching that of the keepcase's slick slides overtop. The Blu-ray is not front-loaded with any trailers; however, the DVD contains front-loaded trailers for 'Monster Trucks', Star Trek Beyond, and the previous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The main menu is a montage of animation-in-motion stills that are reminiscent of the end credits of this sequel. Menu selections run horizontally across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray in this release is region-free.
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa XT Plus and is presented here in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. While the movie itself may not be all it could have been, there's little doubt that this transfer by Paramount is one of reference quality. It's nice to see a movie that is so inundated with a wide color palette have such a stunning image. Details are fantastic throughout, black levels are inky deep, and skin tones (both humans and Turtles alike) are well-defined and consistent.
Any issues with aliasing, banding, or the like are pretty much non-existent here. There's some very minor noise here and there, but it's barely noticable and not enough to change my opinon of the video quality. There's also some frequent lens flaring, but – of course – that has to do with the original cinematography and not this transfer. Also, the quality of the details in this transfer makes the CGI a lot more obvious than might be intended, but again, that's only a reflection of how crystal clear the Blu-ray image is. Fans are going to be really, really pleased with what they see.
An English Dolby Atmos track (which plays as a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track for those without Atmos) is the primary audio here, and it's everything one could hope for. I often complain that many of these high-end audio tracks never quite provide the immersive experience that they should. That's never a problem with this movie, in which one is surrounded by a wall of audio throughout the movie. Even in the quiet moments, ambient noises can be picked up all around...and the movie's action sequences are simply fantastic to listen to.
My favorite action sequence from an audio standpoint is probably the first one in the movie, in which the Turtles attempt to stop Shredder's jailbreak as he's being transferred to prison. Motorcycles zoom by you from one speaker to the next, the Turtles' garbage truck fires manhole covers at you, a helicopter hovers from above, and there's all kinds of additional fun, including low-end LFE use during explosions. A plane crash sequence later in the movie, as well as the film's climatic battle above the city are almost just as much fun.
Thankfully, the mix is never overbearing either. Dialogue is always crisp and never seems improperly mixed or too low when compared to all the other action in the movie. I didn't detect any glitches or issues with the track, which gets a reference-quality score from me.
In addition to the Atmos English track, the Blu-ray also includes 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, as well as an English Audio Description track. Subtitles are available in English SDH, English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Geared primarily for the kiddies, 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' is pretty much on par in terms of quality with the prior film. Which means it's not that great, but it's not all that bad either. The CGI-heavy action sequences were a little too long and tedious for me, but I did enjoy a lot of the interaction between the Turtles during their 'down time', and the top-notch A/V quality of the Blu-ray adds to this title's appeal. You'll probably want to check it out before making a purchasing decision, but I think it's worth a look.