Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, 1991.
Directed by Michael Pressman.
Starring Kenn Scott, Lauri Faso, Michelan Sisti, Robbie Rist, Leif Tilden, Adam Carl, Mark Caso, Brian Tochi, Ernie Reyes Jr., Paige Turco, François Chau and David McCharen.
The teenage mutant ninja turtles must face their past and fight against their strongest foes yet.
Released less than a year after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), this sequel may boast a bigger budget but unfortunately it would seem that little of that money was spent on developing a decent script. Clearly aiming itself at a slightly younger audience, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is lacking in darkness and wit - two key ingredients that made the original so enjoyable. The story has been simplified so youngsters can easily follow, and much of the violence is now toned down to the point where the turtles don't even use their weapons. It's almost a total wipe-out, but luckily there's a strange charm that comes with watching these four childhood heroes.
In my review for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I wrestled with trying to set nostalgia aside, yet re-watching the film many years after having last seen it was like a meeting with an old friend. There was a comfort in the familiarity, and it didn't matter that as the film played out I was remembering exactly what would happen next. For the duration of the running time I had regressed to a child-like state and sat in awe in front of the images. I also owned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze on VHS, and so I was expecting a similar sense of rediscovery. Instead, beside a couple of vaguely memorable scenes, what I got was a largely forgettable plot peppered with silly one-liners.
The story picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Shredder (François Chau, voiced by David McCharen) returns keen to enact revenge, and the four turtles - Raphael (Kenn Scott, voiced by Lauri Faso), Michaelangelo (Michelan Sisti, voiced by Robbie Rist), Donatello (Leif Tilden, voiced by Adam Carl) and Leonardo (Mark Caso, voiced by Brian Tochi) - are currently residing in April O'Neil's (Paige Turco) apartment whilst looking for somewhere else to live. When pizza-delivery boy Keno (Ernie Reyes Jr.) comes under attack the turtles are forced to make their presence known, and they soon discover that the Foot Clan are once again recruiting.
The turtles must confront their past when the last remaining canister of ooze that caused them to mutate into wise-cracking mutant turtles is discovered. Shredder wishes to defeat the turtles by using the ooze to create mutants of his own, and so he transforms an alligator snapping turtle and a wolf into monstrous creations. The plot plays out in an expected and painfully formulaic fashion where there's never any real danger, and an eco-friendly message is lazily inserted in a vain attempt to teach children something. It's a real shame that there wasn't more thought put into the script, for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proved that there's decent story potential. Evidently the desire to turn a quick profit ruled over reason. The most heinous crime committed is in the way the turtles have been stripped of their individual personalities, instead they now just take turns quipping one-liners. There is at least some comic relief in the brilliantly cast scientist Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner), but his screen time is sadly limited.
With any nostalgia firmly pushed to one side, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is a fairly average film. Sure, it never bores during its eighty-eight minute runtime, but it never really excites either. The action scenes are set up as a series of farcical slapstick pay-offs, sorely lacking much in the way of actual action, and most attempts at humour fall woefully flat. Then there's the Vanilla Ice cameo, which is brilliantly cringe worthy and spawned the delightful song 'Ninja Rap', which contains the frankly lyrically amazing chorus of "Go ninja, go ninja go!" I'm not even being sarcastic, trust me, I wish I was because it's quite concerning when the most fantastic moment of a movie is a song by Vanilla Ice.
Perhaps I'm being a little unfair, because this really isn't a bad movie. I was just hoping for a better continuation of a story that was quite excellently executed in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Admittedly sequels are largely cursed, and it's entirely possible that high expectations gave way to disappointment. Yet the teenage mutant ninja turtles are completely ludicrous to begin with, and so most of the flaws are just about forgivable. It may not be turtle-rific, but it's not a turtle disaster.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film *** / Movie ***