Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is a 1991 American live-action film. The film acts as a sequel to the 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and was directed by Michael Pressman, who has since shown his directing chops on television shows like Weeds and Grey’s Anatomy.
The film received negative reviews from critics which should likely be taken with a grain of salt. They also bashed the first film, but that one is highly regarded as a well-done adaptation for the characters.
However, it should also be noted that fans of the previous film also have been negative for this installment, citing certain themes and tone as working against it. The first film received over two-hundred million dollars in the box-office while this film was unable to make even half of that. A trend that ultimately continued with the third film.
The reason that I decided to review this film is because I needed a little bit of perspective. As some of you may know, I recently went to theaters and watched the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s movie and I didn’t exactly enjoy it. In-fact, I hated it. I thought it was one big mess of terrible movie, and there was joking amongst my friends that it might actually be the worst film in the franchise so far. Looking back, I knew for certain that I liked the first film more than I liked it. Like, that isn’t even an issue and I knew that I liked the animated film more. The ones that I could remember, however, were the second and third film. Both of which are known for being very bad films. So I thought that I would go back and watch them and see what I think.
The film kind-of, sort-of resumes where the last film left off and has Shredder return to take command of the Foot Clan. Notably, it sheds a little light on the origins of Splinter and the Turtles, as well as introduces two new villains named Tokka and Rahzar. They bring the ridiculousness to a higher degree, instead of outlandish for the joke of it all, it becomes plainly stupid. Of course, the first criticism someone has to acknowledge is the more light-heart subject matter in this film in-comparison to the original.
I would’ve definitely preferred for them to have kept the themes and feelings of the first, but I wasn’t completely against it. I always thought a lot of the charm about the turtles is because they are so absolutely ridiculous but they actually do have well-developed villains and some moments that are just well-done. At the same time, I can see why they would have wanted to be more comedic. I only wish that they could have done it in such a way that didn’t completely disregard certain aspects.
The film begins with a “Dedicated to Jim Henson” tidbit, and this is the final film from the franchise to have Jim Henson’s workshop providing the animatronics. Even still, I can’t full-heartedly say that they look well-done at all whatsoever when it comes to dialogue. I will say that I prefer them over the ones in the remade film. They look campy, unrealistic, and ridiculous, but the fact is that Ninja Turtles are meant to look campy, unrealistic, and ridiculous, and for the most part, I think they capture that. They definitely could have made the mouth’s synch up better than what they did.
Another little something that bothered me is the film deciding for all of the combat to be hand-to-hand without the use of weaponry. This was done in an effort to lessen the extent of violence shown in the film. Which I think is absolutely ridiculous because it throws off one of the best things about them, and it also causes for the action-scenes to suffer.
The characters are the biggest downfall of it all. Splinter is a joke, and the four turtles don’t have the intricacies and differences that they should have. They all seem wacky and over-the-top. Ralph demonstrates a little diversity in some instances, but not enough, and none of it is necessarily entertaining. Everything feels completely campy and thrown together in this film, as if they realized they found a new cash-cow and wanted to strike while it was hot. And in the end, like it deserved, the movies became less and less financially successful.
If you read a review about TMNT 2, somebody will make a joke about Vanilla Ice. It’s mandatory that you make a joke about Vanilla Ice. It’s one of the campiest moments throughout the film. We joke about it now, but the thing is, it’s funny because of how inconceivably stupid it is. Which is what this movie is, … inconceivably stupid. We laugh now, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth praising.
In conclusion, the film completely disregards everything we thought we knew about the turtles. The Turtles are absolutely void of individuality and are therefore ruined, Shredder’s a joke, and every scene is riddled with some sort of terribly campy moment that means about a ‘so bad it’s good’ feeling. Even still though, you know what? I like this one more than the remake. In the end, the film put emphasis on the turtles and that’s where it needed to be. They are both terrible, but I was more entertained with this one.
Thanks for reading…