Monday, 12 August 2013

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)





















I haven't seen this film in eons and good golly its dated heavily, there is some serious nostalgia here folks. Straight away in the opening credits I knew I was gonna like this, the small sequence montage in New York is simple but brings back many memories of the era...boom boxes!

From there we see a very young Ernie Reyes, Jr. sporting a stylish mullet and delivering pizza to an address. When he gets there he discovers its being robbed by a large group of masked men and decides to take a few of them on. First impressions...holy Air Nikes Batman! this kid got game!! he kicks ass and then some! But more thugs arrive, its at that point the turtles stroll in behind Reyes (just out of focus), leap over his head, the image freezes and the classic Turtles logo/film title appears emblazoned across the screen in bright bold colours. It looks fantastic and is a glorious little moment to get you hyped.



What I like about this silly film is the fact it follows on from the original perfectly. It starts from where the last film left off, the Foot Clan are reforming, Shredder has reemerged from his apparent death, the turtles are hiding out at April's and everybody is talking about the events of the last film. So it feels very comfortable for the viewer, as if it were the next day in the adventure.

Most of the cast have returned which is also a big plus, only April has been recast and Casey Jones doesn't turn up at all which is a shame (no mention of him either which is the only continuity issue). The turtles themselves are pretty much the same, only Corey Feldman didn't return to voice Donatello but the other voice actors remain. Visually the costumes are again the same but with small touch ups that enhance their appearance. The animatronic heads are much sharper this time around, the lips sync nicely with the dialog and the actors inside seem to have much more range in movement (amazed they can do backflips so easily!).

The bad guys are awesome in this film, you gotta love Shredder, the guy just looks so damn cool in that outfit. I like that they haven't changed it either, if it ain't broke don't fix it, and it looks awesome. We don't really see Shredhead do much this time but his presence is always felt, the dude only needs to look cool, that's all that's required. The Super Shredder sequence? videogame much?? its so totally in tune with the videogame aspect its untrue, utterly preposterous sure but visually so damn cool. I love how they hyped up his armour for that, even though it doesn't make any sense, why would his armour mutate? surely it would simply get destroyed as he grew bigger like the Hulk. Meh it looks super awesome so who cares.

The only let down for me (and everybody else at the time as far as I'm aware) was the lack of Bebop and Rocksteady. When Shredder gets hold of the ooze and turns two unknown creatures into monsters everybody was ready for Bebop and Rocksteady, who else could it be?? I remember my heart sank when they turned out to be these fresh newly created creatures. Despite the disappointment you can't deny they look terrific, a bit Godzilla-ish in concept for one perhaps, and the other just seems like a big werewolf (possible idea rip from videogame Rampage which was popular in the late 80's).

The animatronic puppet work and bodysuits in this film are truly fabulous it must be said. Sure they all look rubbery and clumsy but its the craftsmanship involved that impresses, the detail, the facial movements, the time and effort put it. This is why films like this far outweigh many modern kids flicks because they are real, plus its all Jim Henson's Creature Shop work so that explains the high levels of quality.

The first film was very enjoyable and to be honest I expected this to be a poor follow up. I'm still amazed today that this film is actually fudging tops! It looks like a videogame in every scene but to a degree that's kinda what you expect really so no problem. Its a much lighter affair than the first film yet manages to show much better fight sequences (with less weaponry) probably down to the fact the costumes are better this time around.

So yes its aimed more at kids this time with more slapstick and tomfoolery but its better in visuals, effects and characters if you ask me. A few downers aside like the hideous Vanilla Ice sequence and lack of Bebop and Rocksteady, this film delivers on pretty much every level offering some great comic book/videogame goodness that actually works! I just can't help but like it.

8/10