The embargo on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” reviews has broken, and with it any hope that this latest installment will live up to the high bar set by the 1991’s “The Secret of the Ooze.” The pizza-loving vigilantes have never exactly been critical darlings, but several reviewers note that this latest go-round is at least marginally better than the reboot from two years ago. Progress!
Tim Grierson is lukewarm in Screen International, allowing that the sequel is “packed with better action sequences and a smidgeon more emotional resonance” than the 2014 reboot, which it’s “more engaging than,” but the series itself “remains a rather clattering and crude affair.”
“‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ is a Saturday morning cartoon on Michael Bay steroids,” says the AP‘s Lindsey Bahr. “For the under 12 set, that’s fine. For the rest of us? It’s something to actively avoid.” After singling out praise for star Megan Fox, she points to the film’s strangest casting: “And then there’s Laura Linney — three-time Oscar nominee and general class act Laura Linney — playing the skeptical police chief for some ungodly reason.”
Frank Scheck allows that “Out of the Shadows” has its charms, writing in the Hollywood Reporter that it “fares best when it slows down a bit and allows the Turtles’ personalities, which are quite engaging, to shine through via their amusing comic banter. There’s genuine fun to be found in such scenes as when Michelangelo gleefully marches in a Halloween parade without anyone glancing twice, although the joke is undermined by a gratuitous reference to producer Michael Bay’s other franchise, ‘Transformers.'”
Writing for Variety, Geoff Berkshire isn’t as forgiving. He calls the film “every bit as noisy, brain-numbing and lowbrow as its predecessor” before saying that “the human characters retain all the gravitas of generic placeholders who accidentally made it into the shooting script.”
Rare praise for the film comes from Hitfix‘s Drew McWeeny, who argues that “the focus on the Turtles and the film’s overall amiable sense of goofball humor carries the day” in Dave Green’s installment, even if it “suffers from being the same shape as so many modern blockbusters.” He concludes with a note about the series’ appeal as a whole: “Will this win over people who find the whole thing ridiculous? Nope. This is a film for fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it feels like an affectionate, energetic effort, clearly coming from a place of real appreciation for why these characters have endured.” Cowabunga, dude.