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

<strong class="MovieTitle">Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze</strong> (1991)

(In French, On Cable TV, February 2019) Nobody expected a classic from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, but the result is such that it will confound even those who thought they knew what to expect. Maximizing the jokey aspects of the first film and toning down much of whatever possible seriousness one could imagine from its silly premise, this entry in the series is dull until it gets silly enough to get a reaction. Whether this reaction is amusement or mockery is up to the viewer. Plotwise, the titular oozy premise of the film works as both backstory and pretext to introduce new villains. If it does feel partly more interesting than its prequel, it’s that we’re finally done with the origins story and on to something else. (Even if that “something else” is not that new either from the TV series or the later movie reboot.) Alas, there’s a long way from premise to execution: once you accept the idea of skilled martial artists fighting in bulky turtle suits, the film’s numerous fight scenes will be meaningless for anyone over twelve. The core of the series does remain the turtles, however, and the efforts required to suspend disbelief in the pre-digital era. There’s a heroic quality to portraying kung fu fighting turtles in live action, and the special effects for the entire film are both impressive and silly throughout. This sequel’s overall jokey tone reinforces the unreality of the film. Even if you somehow manage to suspend your disbelief and get over the film’s insistent absurdity, you will inevitably come to the moment where the turtles ham it up on a nightclub scene with none other than Vanilla Ice (“T-U-R-T-L-E Power!”) Maybe your brain will survive the experience. If it does, maybe it will be because of the inherent time-capsule aspect of a film self-consciously designed to appeal to early-1990s teenagers.

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