The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was at the time the highest grossing independent movie of all time. No wonder a sequel was green-lit and released only a year later. Most sequels take up at least two to three years to to be released, but leave it up to a movie starring one of the slowest species on earth to produce a sequel at top speed. In “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” our four amphibious friends and their rodent mentor battle the Shredder again as he seemingly survived falling ten stories down into a garbage track. It must be those padded shoulders. Now, knowing that his Foot Clan is no match for the Turtles, he tries to get his hands on a canister of the same ooze that once mutated the Turtles. His plan is to mutate a snapping turtle and a wolf to create two adversaries that can handle the Turtles. In the mean time, the Turtles are living in April’s apartment while looking for a new place since their old lair was discovered by the Foot Clan in the previous movie.
The first movie surprised basically everybody. Not only was it relatively dark for what is generally considered as kids movie, it was also way better than anyone ever expected it to be. Who also were surprised by this movie were the parents of the kids who saw the first movie. They found it way too dark and violent. They were even supported by Judith Hoag, the actress who played April O’Neill in the first movie, but declined to reprise her role because she also deemed the movie to be too violent. While it was a dark movie compared to the average kids movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was still very much a PG movie that touched upon some serious themes like death. There wasn’t bloodshed of any kind in the movie, but just Ninjas using their weapons in a fight was already considered to be too violent. Fearing diminishing box-office returns the producers listened to the concerned parents and gave us a true kids movie.
While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is a fun movie, it’s also very much a kids movie now. The first movie balanced the goofy antics of the Turtles and the more serious approach to the rest creating a movie that actually holds up pretty well today. Time has been less favorable to the sequel, which actually has a Vanilla Ice cameo in the final act as the Turtles end up in a night club located next to a junkyard. While there are still plenty of fights featuring wise cracks by the turtles, they hardly use their weapons. The only visual aspect that separates these Turtles from each other aside from their masks. Instead we see them using all sorts of appliances, food and toys in their fights against Shredder’s numerous henchmen like belts, yo-yo’s, sausages and blankets. The finale is especially a cheat as it features the four Turtles taking on a mutated Shredder, simply named “”Super Shredder”. 0 points for originality there.
And guess what the Turtles’ tactic on taking on the Super Shredder is…
They actually never even try to hit him, they just stand there talking to him while he is coming them. It’s due to his own stupidity that he quite literally brings the house down on himself.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II was made directly after the first movie became a hit and is a direct continuation of the story. For some reason half the cast has been changed. It’s obvious why Hoag didn’t reprise her role, but a major character like Casey Jones is nowhere to be found (not even mentioned) and Shredder has also been recast. Even the voice actors have been changed with only Michaelangelo and Splinter being voiced by the original actors. Of the human cast only Toshishiro Obata returns to reprise the role of Tatsu. It is a rather thankless one as his job is mostly to watch how his Foot soldiers are defeated by the Turtles over and over again.
Even though it is a more kid-friendly Turtle movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is still quite fun to watch even if it’s way more cheesy than the first one. It also has the distinction of being the best movie Vanilla Ice ever did. So there’s that.