Friday, August 17, 2012

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

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" - 1991
Dir. by Michael Pressman - 1 hr. 28 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Every time you want to complain about an adaptation of your favorite comic book into film, remember that there was a point in time where "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" was about par for what you could reasonably expect out of that translation process.  And then know, unless you're a huge "Jonah Hex" fan, I haven't seen anything in the last ten years that even approached this kind of awfulness, and you're being a big fat baby about it, and everyone is rolling their eyes behind your back.

The first couples of minutes of this film are devoted to a sort of montage of the people of New York City eating pizza.  Literally everyone is cramming slices in their pie-holes.  Delivering pies for pie-holes is Keno's (Ernie Reyes, Jr.) job, and one of his deliveries takes him to a toy store, where a bunch of perverts have pantyhose on their heads for no apparent (non-sexual) reason.  I say that because even though there are dozens of these perverts they get their asses handed to them by Keno, with some assistance from the Turtles, who show up pretty quickly.  Also, I have no idea why these perverts are there in the first place, since providing dozens of men to steal two pizzas seems like overkill, and they also don't seem very interested in stealing any of the merchandise, and they have no demonstrable martial arts skills.  They're just perving out in a toy store after-hours, socially luxuriating in what one hopes is the scent of unused women's undergarments (although I don't have any means to confirm whether they were previously used or not).

On the home front, the Turtles (Raphael, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo, if you didn't already know) and their sensei, Splinter (a giant, man-sized rat) are crashing at news reporter April O'Neil's (Paige Turco) apartment.  They believe that they've managed to kill Splinter's nemesis, Shredder (Francois Chau), who is a flabby dude in a shogun helmet that appears to have been decorated with Post-It Notes that have been spray-painted in a metallic tone.

Shredder (r), with Prof. Jordon Perry (David Warner)

But since they didn't kill him, and Shredder's got a bad attitude about it, Shredder tracks down some of the "ooze" that created the Turtles and Splinter, kidnaps the scientist responsible, and creates a new pair of Jim Henson monsters to exact revenge with.  And then they fight, first in a junkyard, then in an construction site, which is conveniently located on the other side of a wall from a Vanilla Ice club gig.  ARE YOU HALLUCINATING YET?!?

There's really no way around the fact that this is a terrible film.  This is the sort of film that a kid demands to watch when they want to torture their parents because children are cruel, remorseless monsters.  Every dynamic in the film is either inexplicable, or the film refuses to explain it.  I don't know why April O'Neil likes having a bunch of Turtles that act like fifteen-year-olds hanging around her apartment, but I suspect the answer is unsavory.  I don't know why Shredder and Splinter can't just arm-wrestle or something to quash their beef, instead creating their own armies to face off.  But I suspect someone's nursing some unrequited feelings.  I don't know how you can create a movie that actually gets better when Vanilla Ice shows up on-screen and starts rapping.

Instead of explaining any of those things, the turtles talk like mentally-damaged surfers and Jersey d-bags to each other (and I know it's picking on a technological limitation, but the dialogue rarely matches up with the animatronic mouths' movements), scarf pizza, and just generally be annoying.  It's easy to see why Shredder wants to end the Turtles (aside from them trying to kill him before, presumably in the first film).  Thankfully, the film is relatively short, and it's not hard to get through it once, since I was constantly wondering when the awfulness was going to bottom out.  On the upside, at least a couple of cartoonists got paid for this (actually, far more than a couple, if you consider that Kevin Eastman has been publishing "Heavy Metal" magazine for years, and his co-creator Peter Laird is responsible for the Xeric Grant), and it didn't kill the franchise.  I'm willing to trade a really bad movie (or two, or three) to fund the good that the TMNT creators have done for other cartoonists over the years.

1 / 5 - TV

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