Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
Director: Michael Pressman
Writers: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Todd W. Langen
Cast: Paige Turco, David Warner, Michelan Sisti, Leif Tilden, Kenn Scott, Mark Caso, Emie Reyes Jr., Kevin Clash, Francois Chau, Toshiro Obata, Raymond Serra, Mark Ginther, Kurt Bryant, Dewey Webber, Vanilla Ice
Voice Cast: Robbie Rist, Brian Tochi, Laurie Faso, Adam Carl, David McCharen, Frank Welker, Michael McConnohie
Synopsis: The Turtles and the Shredder battle once again, this time for the last cannister of the ooze that created the Turtles, which Shredder wants to create an army of new mutants.
MPAA Rating: PG
Ninja Rap Scene
Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!
Okay, you have a hit franchise that's proven to be marketable in almost anything it's involved in, and you just made a hit movie based on said franchise that was a blockbuster in theaters. Now, where do we go from here? Well, the obvious route is a sequel to capitalize on the first film's success, and here we have it with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze." Although from watching the first movie, one would think that all the loose ends were tied together, so making a sequel wouldn't seem necessary.
After all, Casey Jones ended up with April. The turtles defeated the Foot Clan, and Splinter finally settled his old score with Shredder, so what else is there? However, to many fans surprise, they managed to not only advance the story, but they also managed to delve deeper into our protagonists' origins even deeper than the first film did; which made it very interesting to watch.
Unfortunately, that's not to say that this film isn't without it's drawbacks. For starters, the first movie was heavily criticized, by parents that claimed "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was too violent, and contained too many curse words. Therefore, when "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" was released, it not only cut back on the sailor talk completely, but the violence was toned down as well. Meaning, that instead of the turtles using their trademark ninja weaponry, they relied on normal household items for comical action effect like yo-yo's, sausage and a foam covered stick. Needless to say, this also made the movie a bit more campier than the first movie, and it reverted the franchise back a bit more towards the tone of the kid friendly eighties cartoon series, but it was still surprisingly enjoyable nonetheless.
The story essentially takes place in New York City again, as the turtles are temporarily living with April O'Neal (Paige Turco) until they can find a new place to live; seeing how remnants of the Foot clan figured out the location of their lair in the last movie. Anyway, as luck would have it, Shredder miraculously returns to exact his revenge against the turtles. However, what could Shredder be planning this time? Could he be thinking of rebuilding the Foot Clan to hunt them down again like in the first film? Or maybe he has something else in mind?
Although the first film touched on the origin story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles briefly, as it was not only revealed that they were transformed by an unstable radioactive substance known as Ooze to become humanoid mutants, but it seems in this movie they go to great lengths to explain where this mysterious chemical came from as well. Enter Professor Perry (David Warner). As it's revealed in the film, the Ooze that dripped into the sewers fifteen years ago was due to mishandling of dangerous chemicals by a prestigious chemical company. Several years later, Perry has the daunting task of not only leading a research crew to locate remnants of the Ooze to destroy any and all samples, but to cover it up completely. However, Shredder and his Foot Clan have other plans for it. In Shredder's eyes, his Foot Clan failed the first time fighting the turtles, so he figures this time he'll stand a better chance pitting them against other mutant freaks that he creates. The end result of this is Tokka and Razar. Of course, many fans were upset that the mutants didn't turn out to be Bebop and Rocksteady from the Saturday morning cartoons, but I actually didn't mind to be quite honest.
Sure, it would've been nice, but I never really liked Bebop and Rocksteady that much. Granted, they were rather impressive in their cartoon debut, but in every sequential encounter afterwards, they become reduced to clowns. Hell, the only team of bad guys that get beat up more often than they do would be the Washington Generals vs. the Harlem Globetrotters. Therefore, I know I'm probably in the minority among fans when I say this, but I actually liked the choice of introducing two new mutants vs. Bebop and Rocksteady, as weird as that may sound.
Anyway, to get back to the review, the movie was obviously toned down quite a bit to resemble the original eighties cartoon show a bit more, as there's a lot of over the top moments in this film that never would've worked with the first one's dark overtones to resemble the comic book series. One of those scenes would be the Vanilla Ice cameo for instance. The reason I say that is because the final showdown between Tokka and Razar vs. the turtles takes place at Shredder's hideout, which incidentally happens to be next door to where a Vanilla Ice concert just happens to be taking place. Although one could question why the heck would Shredder be dumb enough to build his hideout near a rock concert where Ice is playing, or we could stop to think how stupid it is to think that Ice was able to CONVENIENTLY pull a rap song out of his bum, to create arguably one of the cheesiest yet surprisingly best moments in the entire trilogy. But as I mentioned earlier, the movie seems to be taking a step back more towards it's cartoon friendly camp feel which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the movie is still engaging enough to where it advances the story of the first film quite well.
Heck, even Shredder is still just as impressive as always, as he still ranks as one of the best on screen super villains to ever be in a super hero movie.
As for the special effects, they're pretty much everything that you'd expect from a movie like this. The suits are still well designed to where the actors can freely move around to perform their martial arts choreography, but at the same time, the faces of the turtles seem a bit less realistic if you stop to look at them close. Granted, most viewers won't notice this little detail, but if you stop to look at their faces closely to compare them to the first movie, then you can definitely tell there's a decline in quality there. But then again, it's only a minor detail at best, and it certainly doesn't ruin the movie by any means, as it's still fairly decent for what it is.
With the increase camp and less dark over tones, the only other gripe that I would have about this movie is that the climatic fight scene between Shredder and the turtles doesn't seem fully fleshed out, and kind of lame if you stop to think about it. In the last movie, Shredder not only survived a fall off a damn twenty story building to land in a garbage truck, but he was also crushed by the trash compactor too; courtesy of Casey Jones. Yet, by some fluke of a damn miracle, he somehow managed to live. If that doesn't tell audiences just how much of a bad a** that Shredder is in these movies, then I don't know what does. After all, any guy that could survive all that is certainly not someone that I would ever want to mess with. Sadly, as much of a bad a** that they make Shredder out to be in these movies, it's always a shame that the final fight scenes with him end far less than stellar manner.
Granted, it's not a bad film to say the least, and it definitely advances the story in such a way to make it interesting. However, I would still have to say the first film is still arguably the best, as it manages to combine the best of both worlds between the comic books and cartoon series. Whereas this film, it seems like it was based more on the cartoon than the comic books themselves. Granted, it's not a bad thing by any means, but it just makes it pale in comparison to the first movie a bit. But in the end, I would still highly recommend this movie to any "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" fan out there, as it's still a very engaging yet very entertaining fun movie to watch. Overall, I would have to give this movie a two and a half out of four.