When I was a kid, there were a few years when there was nothing cooler than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I watched the cartoon, collected the toys, wore the apparel…I basically had everything except the sheets. It wasn't until later that I read the original black and white comics from Eastman & Laird and realized how different the characters were. Still, as a kid, I remember looking forward to both the original film and the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. When the third one rolled out in 1993, the Turtle craze had mostly died down and while I remember seeing it when it came out on video, I certainly didn't approach it with the same enthusiasm as the first two.
However, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II did have a few things against it going in when it was released in 1991. Most notably, Paige Turco replaced Judith Hoag as April O' Neil and the film left out Casey Jones entirely (Elias Koteas), only to bring him back for the third installment. The darker tone of the first, which leaned more towards the comics than the cartoons, also seemed to be sidelined in favor of a more slapstick approach to the characters. And how did Vanilla Ice get into this?
After seemingly defeating their nemesis, the Turtles begin to mop up what's left of the Foot, while taking it easy. However, a news report by April on TGRI brings their past to light, as a canister containing 'ooze' from TGRI is what mutated them. This does not escape the notice of a very much alive Shredder, who wants the ooze to create his own mutants in order to get his revenge. Determined to uncover the secrets of their past, the turtles head to TGRI, only to confront – and lose the last canister of ooze to – the Foot. Now, with Shredder in possession of the ooze, the final battle will be mutant versus mutant.
While there is some inherent suspension of disbelief required when watching any of the TMNT movies, Secret of the Ooze really pushes it. If TGRI knew or even didn't know what the ooze was capable of, why did they have hundreds of canisters and why did they keep them for fifteen years, only to suddenly dispose of them? If the original ooze was a mistake, why and how did they replicate it? How did Shredder, after using the ooze to create Tokka and Rahzar, end up with a full canister? Aside from these questions, TMNT II also scraps several things that made the first work much better. There is no romance nor is there any infighting between the turtles, which gave the first some heart when Leo and Raph patched things up. Also gone is the "art of invisibility" – in one painful scene, the Turtles dance with Vanilla Ice on stage at a club. The final battle, between the Super Shredder and the Turtles is also quite lame, with no blows exchanged. Tokka and Rahzar also give the film a really cheesy feel, which certainly doesn't help it relate to a wider audience. However, the main audience was and will always be kids, who are certain to enjoy the film for what it is.
TMNT II is presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame on the same side of the disc. The transfer is quite good, with only some minor print flaws visible throughout. Several shots in the film appear a bit more faded than others in the same scene, however. Colors throughout are bright, with natural flesh tones, and decent blacks.
TMNT II is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Stereo Surround, both in English. The 5.1 mix makes good use of the entire front soundstage with effects, music, and dialogue, though there is little in the way of directionality. Rear channels are only employed for ambient effects and noise. Dialogue throughout is crisp and clean with no distortion. Optional English subtitles are included.
The trailer and a dull promotional game, 'Pick That Flick,' round out the disc.
I found that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze had lost some of its charm over the years, though was still fairly entertaining. New Line's DVD presents the film with a good audiovisual presentation, and with a low MSRP, fans should definitely consider adding this one to their collections, despite the lack of extras.