In 1991, everyone's favourite ninja turtles came back for a live-action sequel with a rather long title. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze wasn't as violent or as dark as its predecessor, much lighter in tone, but it still did well at the box-office.
Critics weren't quite as enthusiastic about this one since it clearly wanted to stay closer to the cartoons rather than introduce a moody element the way the first movie did but audiences still enjoyed the turtles' ninja antics. The plot, this time, involves the "ooze", the toxic green goop which once turned the titular teens into mutants as the scientist who created it (played by David Warner) is kidnapped by The Shredder with the goal of creating two monsters powerful enough to get rid of the turtles for him. A pizza delivery boy who practices martial arts (Ernie Reyes Jr's Keno) helps the turtles on their quest to find out the truth about their origins and defeat the bad guys.
Once again, the puppetry and animatronics are pretty good in this film although the fact the voice cast has changed a little can be a bit distracting: all of a sudden Raphael now sounds like Joe Pesci? The fight scenes are much sillier than in the first film as the turtles seem to have a little too much fun beating up the Foot Clan, especially in the opening scene set in a toy shop. Paige Turco now replaces Judith Hoag as April O'Neil and there's no sign of Casey Jones so expect some big changes but fear not: Vanilla Ice makes a cameo appearance, inventing the ninja rap before your very eyes in what is arguably the most 90's scene ever recorded on film.
This sequel is still just as charming as the first film and fans of the cartoons should definitely enjoy it. The two new monsters, Tokka and Rahzar (both voiced by Frank Welker), are enjoyably goofy here and would later appear all over the Ninja Turtles lore (video games, comics etc.) despite the fact they were originally meant to be Bebop and Rocksteady. The scene where they mistake Shredder for their mother is still very funny. Unfortunately, the ending we're given is yet again anti-climactic as Splinter shows up to save the day (again) before the turtles face-off against a mutated Super-Shredder, played by wrestler Kevin Nash, who crashes a pier onto himself and disappears in seconds (again). There was definitely room for improvement with this second film but overall it worked surprisingly well.
Secret Of The Ooze may not appeal to adult viewers as much as the first film did but fans of the Ninja Turtles will no doubt have fun with it. It's silly and cheesy at times but it's also charming and funny, not to mention entertaining throughout. It won't make you any smarter but, at the very least, it'll get you to order a pizza so there's always that.
Go ninja go!