In anticipation for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie set to release August 7, 2014, I’ll be revisiting my childhood and reviewing the four previous Ninja Turtles movies. I’m incredibly skeptical about this new film, and will probably write some previewing commentary based on what I know of the new film.
Following the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, the turtles and Splinter are living in April O’Neil’s apartment, much to her dislike. Meanwhile, Shredder has survived and begins plotting his revenge. April does an investigative report on TGRI, the company responsible for the ooze that mutated the Turtles and Splinter 15 years ago. Shredder gets his hands on the last canister of ooze and uses it to create two new mutants, Tokka and Rahzar.
Growing up, this was the turtles movie I watched the most. Probably because the first film had some profanities, hence my parents preferring that I watch this one. The Secret of the Ooze takes some of the elements that made the first film great and either turned it to formula filmmaking or expanded and extended it.
I enjoyed how they explored more of the turtles origins. Though it’s explored much more extensively in the first film, the subject matter in this one kept it fresh and engaging without being too repetitive.
Some of the elements of this film were basically copy-and-paste from the first film: Raphael getting captured, Leo and Raphael’s back and forth, Mikey’s constant one-liners and bad puns. There’s
Though I think this film is pretty close to the first film quality-wise, there are a few differences that give the first film the edge in my book.
Casey Jones is replaced by Keno, a less impressive, younger human counterpart for the turtles. Don’t get me wrong, Ernie Reyes Jr. did a serviceable job as Keno. His fight sequences were impressive, however, it’s hard to replace a character who played as essential of a role as Casey Jones did in the first film. At times Reyes’ acting was more irritating than entertaining. The martial arts elements were definitely more his strength. The back and forth between Casey and April would have been nice to keep.
Paige Turco replaced Judith Hoag as April.O’Neil. Watching these films back-to-back was nice because I could see the two distinctive styles each actress brought to the role. April had a more central role in the first film, offering observations on the turtles state while they were on the farm. Here she’s another friend and messenger to the turtles from Shredder. Turco does well with the smaller role her character has in this film. The more helpful assistance for the turtles comes from Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner), a scientist for TGRI who is very familiar with the ooze.
Tokka and Rahzar helped in keeping the battles between the turtles and Shredder fresh. The filmmakers avoided the same old “we fight you, you fight us” back and forth by introducing these characters. It also kept the story fresh by incorporating the ooze and helping the enemy evolve. I’m a bit surprised that they chose Tokka and Rahzar over say, BeBop and Rocksteady. Either way, it worked.
Shredder’s motivation in this film isn’t to build an empire, rather, plain and simple revenge. He had less face time in this film, probably because Tokka and Rahzar were the primary villains the turtles had to face. Still, it’s good that they evolved his character instead of recycling the same old storylines.
Following the successful live-action film from the previous year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze does a good job of keeping the story fresh and entertaining. They do a good job of developing more of the turtles origins and evolving their confrontations with the enemy. Though some of the casting and character changes hurt the film, it’s still very entertaining and enjoyable for me to watch nearly 25 years later.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
With regards to the new film:
Another thing I am concerned about with the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie is Shredder. His original story has been left behind, or perhaps adapted to today’s world. Either way, I’m skeptical about how his character is going to do. I like William Fichtner as an actor, but I’m not sure he’s cut out for this kind of role. He’s made a living being a strong secondary character, and I just don’t know if he’s got what it takes for a role like this.