Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze

1991, Movie, PG, 88 mins

Review

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Clever if rather mechanical sequel to the 1990 action-comedy based on the independent comic book series, TMNT II is a reasonably entertaining blend of Three Stooges and Bugs Bunny, using gracefully choreographed martial-arts slapstick without any infantile sound effects.

The four wisecracking Ninja Turtles--Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo--and their sensei, the wise rat Master Splinter, are temporarily living with their friend, news reporter April O'Neil (Paige Turco). They're unaware that the villainous Shredder has survived their last encounter, and has resumed leadership of the evil organization named the Foot.

April reports on a conglomerate uncharacteristically involved in an environmental cleanup. The reason, as company scientist Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner) knows and doesn't say, is that buried canisters of radioactive "ooze" have mutated local flora. The Shredder learns of this useful ooze--as does Splinter, who realizes it's the origin of his and the Turtles' mutations. A Turtle-Foot battle ensues at corporate headquarters, until the Shredder makes off with Prof. Perry and the last active canister.

Pizza-deliverer Keno (Ernie Reyes Jr.) finds April and the Turtles to tell them that the Foot is recruiting an army of teenage martial-artists. He wants to infiltrate and report back, but the Turtles naysay that dangerous idea. Meantime, the Shredder has forced Perry to mutate a wolf and a snapping turtle. To the Shredder's chagrin, however, the monstrous mutants are powerful, human-sized infants.

Keno, encouraged by Raphael, infiltrates the Foot--inadvertently leading to Raphael's capture. The other three attempt a rescue, but Shredder captures them as well. With Splinter's intervention, they and Perry all escape into the sewer--and fortuitously find a long-hidden subway station the Turtles decide to call home. There Perry devises an antimutagen for the mutant infant-creatures to ingest--which the Turtles, back at Foot headquarters, initially try to administer with tempting spiked donuts.

A subsequent battle carries into a disco next door, where the crowd thinks it's all just costumed entertainment. The Shredder appears with the last canister, grabs a hostage, and orders the Turtles to surrender. But a cavalry-like Keno kicks that canister away. The Shredder still has a vial of it, though, and the battle continues outside where he appears as the mutated Supershredder--who appears to die beneath the heavy debris of a collapsed pier. The Turtles later assure Splinter they practiced "ninja invisibility" to stay out of human sight. Splinter shows them their picture splashed on the cover of The Daily News, and pointedly tells them to practice harder.

The Turtles' Valley-speak has a certain silly charm, and their irreverence is cute. Yet while the Turtles themselves are supposed to be distinct, they are, except for Brooklyn-accented Raphael, interchangeable.

The concept "interchangeable" is evidently at the root of some cast changes from the first movie. Judith Hoag, the previous April O'Neil, was reportedly let go after requesting a raise while the producers felt human actors in TMNT films aren't the point. That said, Turco acquits herself nicely in the role.

Raymond Serra as the police chief and Toshishiro Obata as Tatsu reprise their parts, as do three of the four actors in the Turtle costumes and two of their four vocal performers. Reyes, Jr. performed all his own martial-art stunts. Among the songs on the rock-and-rap soundtrack is "Ninja Rap," written by Vanilla Ice, Earthquake, and Todd W. Langen, and performed in the film by the first two. The film is dedicated to Jim Henson, whose Creature Shop devised the animatronics. Another sequel followed in 1993.

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