Speaking of things that don’t hold up from childhood…
It’s odd that i only saw this movie once or twice when i was about 4 or so, i read the Archie comic adaptation more times then i saw the movie*. Chances are if i read it again i would probably like it more than this movie but lets get on with it shall we?
The Shredder is back, and with him comes the past and its questions about the origins of the turtles themselves.
Kevin Clash who provides the voice for Splinter (and voiced Elmo on Sesame Street for many years) continues to give stand out work. His raspy voice has a fatherly quality and wisdom to it that really sells the character.
The fights themselves are still nicely (although not exceptionally) choreographed, and are better shot and edited here.
Yup. That’s about it…
Watching this movie made me realise the another reason why the first movie’s visual style worked so well; as when you turn the lights up everything looks unconvincing and cheap. It’s not that the turtles and Splinter aren’t as convincing as before (they’re not, they look worse for the most part particularly Splinter’s puppet), or that the colours are saturated and bright like a Saturday morning cartoon, its the overly kiddy feeling the movie has that brings it all down for me.
Take the opening shots of how everyone in New York is eating pizza, and i mean everyone. In fact pizza is near ubiquitous in the film and becomes an irritation before long, its the same as when i child won’t shut up about something they think is cool. It’s also really bizarre that the Shredder is far less imposing and is now closer to a mustache twisting cartoon villain (which is admittedly exactly what he is) complete with buffoonish minions, and standing on high objects and saying: “YOU’LL NEVER BEAT ME TURTLES! MU HAHAH HAHAHAAAHAHAHA!!”
As i said earlier everything feels cheap here (which is odd considering how much money the last movie made) the sewers look like they are made out of card board and are wholly unconvincing (unlike the last film), Tokka and Rahzar look as bad or worse as any Kaiju in a Godzilla movie, the supposedly high tech laboratories look like a child’s rendition of a mad scientist’s lair, and throw in a horribly dated and cheesy Vanilla Ice cameo and this film is well on it’s way to being a bad one.
The last and most damning nail in the coffin is the dumbing down of the previous film’s themes and narrative subtext. What makes the first TMNT movie decent to this day is the father son themes, and over all serious tone. It’s a kids movie sure, but it didn’t talk down to me as a kid. It resonated with me because instead of a being content to be a light show and toy commercial, it instead had a genuine interest in being an actual story. Here in Secret of the Ooze there’s nothing of the sort, its just pizza references, bad slapstick, and karate chops.
John Du Prez’s score tries to bring back in the emotional heart that existed in the last film with the return of the two most important themes (Splinter’s theme and Foot Clan’s family theme), but the kiddy atmosphere undoes it all by undercutting the seriousness of the cues. Coupled with the complete absence of the thematic content that inspired those two themes in the first place and the music’s seriousness actually clashes with the movie instead of helping it along.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze replaces the seriousness and layered storytelling of the previous film with a patronising tone and dated (and i mean fucking dated) pop culture references. I now see why i didn’t really remember much from this movie, and while it’s mostly because i only watched it a couple of times i think there was a reason why i was content with watching the first one over and over.
I say leave this one in the past, you’ll be happier for it.
*it think i will try and pick up a copy of that comic. as i remember being quite happy with it as a kid and i think the movie’s kiddy atmosphere is better suited there.