RETRO REVIEW – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 2: SECRET OF THE OOZE

 

Starring: Paige TurcoDavid WarnerMichelan Sisti 
Written by: Kevin Eastman (based on characters created by), Peter Laird (based on characters created by), Todd W. Langen (screenplay)
Directed by: Michael Pressman
Original Year of Release: 1991
Run Time: 1hr, 29 minutes
Rated: PG

When the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) came out in the theaters it was at the height of the Turtle craze. The cartoon was playing non-stop every day after school and this live action rendition of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s comic was the logical next step. I’ll admit that I loved the first movie. I thought it was a great tale about four brothers trying to fulfill their destiny in a world that had no place for them. The Turtles were believable and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop had outdone themselves. This was the height of the comic book movie boom of the late eighties and early nineties. By the time Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) arrived the genre was starting to become bloated and self-parodying. I had grown out of the TMNT so seeing the film’s sequels had little or no interest for me.

With the arrival of the second Michael Bay Turtles movie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows OUR REVIEW HERE), I decided it was time to revisit my generations TMNT 2. Good or bad, how could I turn down the chance to see Vanilla Ice in 1080p perform with TrueHD backing up his lyrics?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze in hindsight doesn’t open or end very well. It seems as if the Turtle hype was reaching its zenith and a lot of it was done on the cheap. This is, or was, standard Hollywood practice even into the early nineties and the best way of turning over a fast million. The film opens with a freeze frame of the Turtles jumping into action and ends just the same. One has to wonder why the later Batman films of Joel Schumacher didn’t do the same. The film’s title gives the basis for the plot as the Turtles learn what caused them to mutate. Donatello is the only one truly bothered by this as he believed there was always some higher meaning for it. His wise master Splinter offers the only real emotional weight to the film and reassures him that his birth is the act of a higher purpose.

The film is a hodgepodge of awkwardly staged fight sequences between the Turtles and the remaining members of the Foot Clan. The Turtles’ new ally, Keno (Ernie Reyes Jr.), could have brought some more to the story. Instead, his role quickly reduced to a new student and undercover spy. There were a few instances early on where you have to wonder whose movie is this, Keno’s or the TMNT’s? Casey Jones is completely absent from the film and April O’Neil (Paige Turco) is reduced to a bit player. The true treat for any genre fan is watching David Warner make the most of his character, Professor Jordan Perry. Warner elevates this film to a place it could never be without him. However, even his character is plagued with having to dance to lyrics of Vanilla Ice. Kudos to Warner because not many members of the Royal Shakespeare Company have had to contend with that.

Yes, Vanilla Ice’s classic, “Ninja Rap” is on full display here for almost the last twenty minutes of the film. A great special feature on this disk could have anything from the original conception of the song and its choreography to interviews from Ice himself. In actuality, the Blu-ray I found had no special features. The scene and the song, on the other hand, are quintessential nineties crap. They feel missing with out it. Sadly, no one spent any additional money on this disk. I guess the studio, like Robert Van Winkle, probably wants to forget tithes whole sad affair ever happened.

The first three TMNT films are early nineties superhero flair that any child from four to ten will love. Fans of Jim Henson will be nostalgic for these real life creatures and marvel at his company’s wizardry. I’ve heard the third Turtles film is better than the second one, TMNT 3. Perhaps I’ll tackle that film when Michael Bay releases the inevitable third modern Turtles movie.

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