Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the Ooze Movie Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Secret of the Ooze Movie ReviewTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II:

THE SECRET OF THE OOZE

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

Release Date: March 22, 1991 

Directed By: Michael Pressman

Released By: New Line Cinema

Run Time: 88 Minutes

Budget: $25 Million

Box Office:

            $78,656,813 (United States)

 

PLOT

New York City is craving pizza, and the only one who can satisfy it is delivery boy Keno.  He will start with an order for Ms. April O’Neil.  He mounts his bike and soon arrives at April’s apartment, where he notices a suspicious van across the street.  Curiosity gets the best of him, and Keno investigates, only to come face-to-face with a gang of thugs robbing a small department store.  Keno does his best to stop them, showing exceptional martial arts ability, but there are just too many for one boy alone.  Luckily he has some new friends ready to help – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

The turtles waste little time joining the fight, and use their skills as ninja to make the most of their surroundings in battle.  Toys, games, and even sausages all become weapons in the hands of these warriors, and the thugs don’t stand a chance.  Raphael orders Keno to call the cops, and when he goes the turtles disappear, pizza and all, into the night.

 Keno TMNT Ninja Turtles The Secret of the Ooze

April O’Neil returns home, where she is living with her mutant friends since the lair was destroyed. Celebrating their victory, the boys arrive at the apartment with their spoils, and everyone digs in for a slice.  The close quarters prove to be harmful for Leonardo and Raphael who start fighting yet again.  Splinter appears to calm them down, reprimanding his sons for their immaturity and reminding them that just because the Shredder is gone does not mean that the surface world is any less dangerous. 

 

Meanwhile, in a New York City dump, a hand slowly rises from a pile of garbage and the Shredder lives again.  The remnant of the Foot Clan now resides in a nearby junkyard, and their numbers are pitiful.  Tatsu, Shredder’s right hand, steps up to take command of the soldiers, but his reign does not last long, as Shredder himself arrives to reclaim his rightful place and begin plotting revenge.

 

The next day, April is on location at T.G.R.I., interviewing Professor Jordan Perry about the company’s efforts to clean up 15-year-old toxic waste.  The Professor assures her that things are progressing satisfactorily, and leaves to oversee the process.  His departure is not a moment too soon, either, as two other scientists find giant dandelions, a byproduct of the waste leaking into the environment.  Unfortunately, April’s new technician is a Foot ninja sent to follow her, and he takes a dandelion back to Shredder.  The Shredder is pleased with the find, and hopes to use the toxic chemical for his own nefarious purposes.

 

Trying to be good roommates, the turtles decide to clean April’s apartment, but Splinter interrupts their efforts.  The newscast earlier stirred something in him and he relays another piece of their origin to the boys.  He saved the canister the ooze had been in, and reveals its creator to be T.G.R.I.  Knowing answers are waiting at the factory, the turtles head out.

 

Professor Perry is hard at work disposing of the remaining ooze, and has just one canister left before the problem is officially solved.  However, the Foot have other plans and take both the slime and the professor away.  The turtles arrive and find everything working, but no one home.  A quick check of the computer reveals one canister still active, and Tatsu quickly reveals where it is.  The turtles and Foot battle for the ooze, but to no avail for the heroes.  The Foot escape, sending the turtles home to formulate a new plan.

 

The plan begins with moving back into the sewers, and the boys start packing immediately.  However, they’re interrupted when Keno arrives with more pizza for April.  One look around her apartment tells him something’s amiss, and stomping on Raphael’s foot shows him just what that is.  Splinter relays the origin of the mutants, and Keno offers to help his new friends in their mission.  Rumor has it that the Foot are recruiting, and Keno has what it takes to infiltrate the organization.  Splinter denies the boy’s request, despite the voice support from Raphael, and the idea is dropped.  But Shredder is wasting no time putting the ooze to use, and has penned in two animals of his own to cover in the sludge.

 Tokka Rahzar TMNT Ninja Turtles The Secret of the Ooze

On a rainy evening, the turtles disappear back into the sewers to find a new home.  It doesn’t take long before Raphael grows weary from the lack of action and abandons his brothers to locate the Foot.  Annoyed, Donnie, Leo, and Mikey continue searching, and three steps later Michelangelo falls into a deeper storm drain.  Jumping in after him, Donatello locates a circuit breaker, and flips on some long-dormant electricity.  The boys find themselves standing in an abandoned subway station, complete with a subway car and working payphone.  Here they are truly at home.

 

TMNT Ninja Turtles The Secret of the Ooze RaphaelShredder’s creatures are ready, and he now has a wolf and snapping turtle mutant at his disposal.  However, the process didn’t go as planned, and both are mentally immature infants.  Shredder orders their destruction, but Professor Perry steps in to save them.  Meanwhile, Raphael is working with Keno to find the Foot.  Keno gets through the testing phase with Raph’s help, and is taken to the junkyard headquarters.  It doesn’t take long for the Foot to realize something’s wrong, and they surround the intruders.  Raphael fights them off as best he can while Keno escapes, and soon comes face-to-face with a specter of the past – Shredder.

 

Keno manages to contact the others, and they make their way to the junkyard to save Raphael.  Everything is a bit too quiet, though, and soon the other turtles are caught in a trap.  Dangling from a net, Shredder is ready to skewer the boys, but their own backup arrives and Splinter sets them free.  The turtles make quick work of the Foot soldiers, but the new muscle is brought out to help, and the boys face off against Tokka and Rahzar.  These mutants are exceptionally strong, and beat up the turtles handily.  Donatello finds Professor Perry while Michelangelo finds a hidden manhole cover, and the heroes run home.

 

Once safe, Professor Perry explains more about how the ooze came to be, and how its presence in the sewer was nothing more than an accident.  Donatello is unable to accept that their whole lives were a mistake, so Splinter reminds him that the past does not define their present and future.

 

Shredder is unhappy with losing his prey, and sends Tokka and Rahzar out onto the streets of NYC.  They cause plenty of property damage, and the next morning April’s technician gives her a message for the turtles.  If they do not show themselves soon, then the next target will be Central Park.  With no choice but to enter the fray, Professor Perry formulates an anti-mutagen that will reverse the process for Tokka and Rahzar.  He mixes together the ingredients necessary, but Michelangelo accidentally drops in a piece of pizza, changing its consistency and requiring that the mutants ingest it.  Luckily, Mikey has a plan to make up for his mistake.

 

The turtles arrive at the designated meeting place, and are surrounded by Foot.  Tokka and Rahzar are released, but Leonardo stops the battle to partake in the traditional pre-fight donut.  The mutants eat several of the treats (which all contain anti-mutagen ice cubes) but inevitably find the hidden surprise and start attacking.  They toss the turtles around like they’re nothing, eventually sending Raphael crashing through a nearby wall into a nightclub.

 

The fight continues amidst the scared patrons, and Professor Perry realizes that they need some concentrated CO2 to speed the chemical reaction.  Using a couple fire extinguishers, the turtles take down Tokka and Rahzarand blast the gas down their throats, putting them to sleep.  The Foot are ready to pick up where the mutants left off, however, and the turtles put on a show for the people, including a few dance moves as they work their ninja magic.

 Ninja Rap Dance TMNT Ninja Turtles The Secret of the Ooze

Desperate to win no matter what, Shredder pulls out the last canister of ooze, and threatens to create an army.  Fearing to make any move, the turtles are helped by Keno, who kicks the canister from Shredder’s hand, sending it flying to Professor Perry.  In the confusion, Donnie and Mikey sneak away and Shredder takes a woman hostage, threatening her with one last vial of the mutagen.  Impatience gets the better of him again and Keno bumps into Shredder, allowing the woman to run away.  Donatello and Michelangelo unleash the fury of a nearby speaker on the villain, using sound waves to blast Shredder out of the building and onto the nearby pier.

 

The turtles head out after him, and Shredder is nowhere to be found.  Ready to celebrate, they high five with a “cowabunga”, but then Shredder shows himself.  Tearing through the pier, he drags the turtles down below.  Having drunk the last vial of ooze himself, the boys are now faced with a Super Shredder driven solely by rage.  Super Shredder tears the pier down on top of them all, ready to sacrifice his life to kill the boys.  As the dust settles, four shells pop out of the water, with all the turtles safe and sound.  Super Shredder is dead, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are victorious.

 

Returning to the lair, Splinter admonishes the boys for not keeping to the shadows and being seen by all of NYC.  But T.G.R.I. is gone, the ooze is out of the grasp of evil, and the city is safe again.

 

 

PRODUCTION NOTES

 

The sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released less than a year after the wildly successful first film, but with major changes.  First, there was a considerably bigger budget to work with (almost double that of the original film).  Second, new voice actors for Donatello and Raphael were hired, and Paige Turco replaced Judith Hoag as April O’Neil.  Casey Jones did not appear in the second film, and Ernie Reyes, Jr. (Keno) was given an entire role for himself after serving only as Donatello’s fight double during the first film.

 

The majority of filming again took place at North Carolina Film Studios using the NYC replica sets.  The new subway lair was built to resemble the decommissioned City Hall Station in New York.  The biggest difference, however, is that the real version is not totally abandoned, and trains still pass through daily to turn around.  More filming was done in the actual city, too, with the entrance to April’s apartment building being the entrance to the New York office of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.  The movie itself was dedicated to Henson, who died shortly before it released.

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

While this movie as a whole was not very well received (many critics called the dialogue juvenile and the inconsistent use of ninja weapons defeated their purpose in the first place), there is a lot of good to be said about the film.  First, the story itself is great.  While a bit shallow at times, its strength lies in the way it was an actual sequel to the first film.  Because it’s so hard to get films made and sequels depend directly on the success of the original, most movies are self-contained stories that don’t leave a lot of room for continuation once the credits role.  The brilliance of the first TMNT movie was that there were open-ended plot elements that didn’t matter to the overall story but could be (and were) jumping off points for the second film.  For instance, it’s unlikely many viewers were saying to themselves “I really wish I knew where that ooze came from” at the end of the first movie, and yet it was enough of an issue that it was developed further in the second.  This is how sequels should be written, and they very rarely are.  So this movie was a resounding success in that aspect.

 

As mentioned, critics were unhappy with the juvenile portrayal of the turtles in their actions and dialogue.  But how else are teenagers supposed to act?  The fact that they are just 15-17 is often overlooked and not explored in most incarnations.  While it may or may not have been the intent of the writers to make the dialogue and mannerisms suited for teens, it did help give the characters that feel.  Between the petty arguments, playing football with their pizza, and the toys spread out around April’s apartment, there were plenty of times when the boys felt like they were actually the age they are said to be.

 

It was also excellent to see more of the individual characteristics for each turtle being put forth.  Certain things – like Donatello’s prowess with technology and Raphael being at odds with Splinter’s teachings – were never really spelled out or barely touched on in the first film.  But they were all worked into the story in some way during the second.  Donatello is the go-to guy for computer issues at T.G.R.I.  Leonardo and Raphael are more often at odds over how to handle the Foot and the ooze.  Raph even argues and disobeys Splinter to do what he feels needs to be done.  Ultimately there are so many more aspects of each turtle brought in that it helps to fill them out, and gives something to fans of all characters.

 

Like all films, there are several points in this movie that really push the boundaries of logic.  Some are less important than others, like how Tokka and Rahzar ended up with kneepads on after mutating when no one had been in or out of their cages.  But some are clearly lapses simply for moving the plot.  For instance, why did Shredder allow Tokka and Rahzar to eat the donuts?  Shouldn’t common sense have dictated that they go nowhere near anything the turtles would offer?  Also, why are the Foot recruits fighting with footpads and hand pads?  The organization is built on ninja warriors who would kill for their master without question, but they’re worried about bruising each other in a sparring match?  (Of course, that one was for safety purposes in a PG-rated movie, but the logicstill fails.)

 

Tokka and Rahzar were a nice addition to the movie.  Originally the studio wanted Bebop and Rocksteady from the 1987 cartoon to be the mutant henchmen.  However Eastman and Laird nixed the idea, and so Tokka and Rahzar appeared instead.  The use of these two again shows how truly good this movie was as a sequel.  Having evil mutants that Shredder can manipulate is a concept that could stem directly from the plot of the first film.  In terms of appearance, there are a lot of question marks about why they look so different from the turtles and Splinter.  While they were more vicious animals to begin with, they mutated into incredibly violent looking versions, even though there’s no indication that they were exposed to any more or less ooze than the turtles (the canister at the end looked full).  So what was it about the process that turned Tokka and Rahzar into dangerous beasts as opposed to just normal mutants?  (The only possible explanation is that when Professor Perry altered the substance to make them less intelligent he also changed it to cause the violent look as well.)

 

Despite its shortcomings and general critiques, this sequel was still a great film.  It was fun, it provided a direct connection to the first, and it gave the fans exactly what they wanted – more turtle action.  Every film is going to suffer to help tell its particular story, but this one really didn’t drop the ball too much.  It certainly provided excellent closure to the tale as it began and yet left the door wide open for the adventures to continue.  Overall it was a great take on the franchise.

 

 

FUN FACTSMaster Splinter Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the ooze

 

The voice actors for Leonardo and Michelangelo were the same as the first film.

 

Despite being involved in many fights, Leonardo’s swords are often not in their sheaths at times when he would need them most.

 

Frank Welker voiced both Tokka and Rahzar.  Welker is a well known voice actor, having done prominent characters such as Megatron (Transformers), Fred Jones and Scooby-Doo (Scooby-Doo), and Abu (Aladdin), among many others.

 

The only humans to play the same on-screen role in both films were Raymond Serra (Chief Sterns) and Toshishiro Obata (Tatsu).

 

The film was the 12th highest grossing worldwide in 1991.

 

This was the only movie Casey Jones did not appear in, though no reason for his absence is ever given.