I figured I would work under a variant of that old saying "last hired, first fired" and open proceedings with the most recent addition to my (some may say) too large film collection. Beloved by "ironic" film fans all over the web - most of whom are probably too young to remember the film on the big screen, 1991's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret Of The Ooze is probably best (or, only) remembered for an awkwardly shoehorned in cameo from hot at the time white rapper Vanilla Ice that even teenage me didn't appreciate. Let's see how the rest of the film holds up, shall we...
Today's review style shall be LiveBlog 5 Minute Blocks:
00:00-04:59 - So far, we have established that in NYC EVERYONE loves pizza, delivery boys know "the martial arts", bad guys do indeed wear stockings over their heads, our human hero’s name is Kino and the word "eclectic" should not be used as a hip saying when you are kicking bad guys in the face.
05:00-09:59 - What was established in this block is that turtles are not afraid to use anything at hand to kick your ass, as long as it comes with a zany line to say. In addition, it's been revealed that turtles love pizza and that we are in New York. And that Ms O'Neill is REALLY hard up for money to allow the Turtles to live with her.
10:00-14:59 - PREVIOUSLY, IN THE LAST MOVIE! And with the reintroduction of Splinter, we are all reminded what an awesomely talented and inspiring person Jim Henson was. One thing I never got with the "reestablish the motivations" scenes in comic book film sequels was: surely the only people seeing the films would be fans already and will know the score. And we now know why Shredder got his ass kicked so readily - his ninja death squad consists of white dudes and little kids.
15:00-19:59 - Revenge motive established. Time taken? 26 seconds. Now for the padding. By which, I mean the plot. Science makes things big....I think that'll come back to haunt us all. And Dr Rick Moranis is NOT a fan of that idea.
20:00-24:59 - The turtles are cleaning up the apartment, which is just going to end in comedy. Or a montage (please be montage, please be montage). Dammit - no montage, just dramatic thinking. And the reason why the Flashy Red Light budget on the shoot was $12,000US. Seeing the turtles talking just reminded me of how awesome Henson was.
25:00-29:59 - Almost half an hour in is when we get our first serious turtle fight. Suck it Foot Clan - I don't know why I ever did my grade 10 French talk on you jokers. But, since it is the first major battle, the turtles have their asses handed to them in a fluke. I don't remember there being this much plot the first time I saw the film, but then, that was near 20 years ago. And we have our first "wackity shmakity doo" moment (hereby known as WSDs): Splinter: "I think you better sit down." Kino: *FAINT*
30:00-34:59 - Why does Raphael sound like Ray Romano? At least Shredder has kidnapped SARK, so he can run ComputerTown. Shredder's evil plan? Make shit bigger. Do that on some veggies, and he could have been hailed a hero. Meanwhile, our heroes are in the realest sewers ever, that don't look at all like the set of Cube. And they were apparently built above the actual sewers - or the train station from Bioshock 2.
35:00-39:59 – It’s like the makers of the film intentionally broke things up into five minute blocks. That makes it easier for me. Meanwhile, Shredder has made a giant wolf and even more giant (comparative to its original size) snapping turtle, who come out of their cells wearing kneepads....WHERE DID THEY GET KNEEPADS FOR ANIMALS?!?!!? And our second WSD moment where the evil beasties end up calling Shredder “mama”.
40:00-44:59 – More NYC establishing shots, just in case you forgot. Henchmen in movies are stupid, second only to wannabe henchmen – who couldn’t even notice a giant turtle crouched behind a rusty car. And, apparently, the only way to raise rank from wannabe henchman to fullblown henchman is to win Kumite. Which Kino does handily, ingratiating him with the Foot Clan, for about 5 minutes, before he and Raphael get to kicking ass again.
45:00-49:59 – Oh no, Raph is captured, leaving Kino to run through all five boroughs (we are in NYC, remember) to get the rest of the gang. Took him all day to get to the turtles, took the turtles .05 of a second to get back to Shredder’s lair. And, lo – they fell into a crafty trap. Which brings us to the halfway point of our movie, and giant battle #2, yay!!
50:00-54:59 – 50 minutes in, and our first Turtles v NegaTurtles battle. Which goes predictably against our heroes. Thankfully, the guys win the best way they know how. Running the hell away. Which leads us to backstory a-go-go, presented by award winning actor David Warner.
55:00-59:59 – Shredder, being the asshole that he is, sends his giant boys to kick the crap out of Red Hook. Taz ain’t gonna like that. But, the plan worked and got April O’Neill back into the mix. Or threatened into delivering a message. Your choice.
60:00-64:59 – Training montage. By which I mean, scientifically trying to devise a way to bitchslap the NegaTurtles. And no montage. But our first obvious tie-in to Fox. And, proving that all that pizza set up was worth it, the turtles outsmart the NegaTurtles with donuts...by which I mean, they don’t.
65:00-69:59 – And, once again receive a massive ass kicking. WSD moment #3: Leo “You take the ugly one”, Raph “No, YOU take the ugly one”, Donnie “I’ll take the ugly one”...can you guess the punchline? Say it with me, Mikey “Which one’s the ugly one?”
VANILLA ICE ALL UP IN THIS BITCH!! And now, with the power of early 90s rap, the turtles start kicking ass and cracking wiser than 15 Bruce Willises. GO NINJA GO NINJA GO! No matter how awkwardly shoehorned in you thought Mr Ice was, it is so much worse actually seeing it.
70:00-74:59 – GO NINJA GO NINJA GO NINJA GO! And the NegaTurtles get, as it were, served – allowing the turtles to kick the piss out of so many more Foot ninjas...and Mr Ice to lay the whole song down again. DANCEBREAK! Until Shredder comes in, spoiling the party and then getting the piss whipped out of him by the power of keytar jams. Until.....
75:00-79:59 – Shredder + Ooze = Kevin Nash. But, Shredder being the mental superman that he is, destroys a building so much that it falls on him. Silly bee. And lo, another bodacious adventure ends. STILL FRAME CLOSING!
Well, for a film that I haven’t seen in near 20 years (I honestly can’t remember seeing it since its first big screen run), I gotta say that it held up pretty well. Nothing outstandingly good or bad, it was just fun and watchable. It’s a ninja turtles film, and doesn’t try to be anything else. What I did really like, though, was the fact that the script didn’t try too hard to be “of the moment”, and cameo aside, it still plays today as it would have back then.