TEN SOMEWHAT ADEQUATE SEQUELS : PART SIX
Why it's better
Part one was riding on the momentum of the comic book/cartoon/merchandise. And when that kinda anticipation builds, it really leads up to one thing: the initial reveal.
And! Furthermore! The initial reveal (in both movies) comes during the opening title card. Both movies use the exploitation gimmick of a bold, colorful title (in these cases, the immediately recognizable Turtles logo) over a freeze frame. In the first, it lands on top of Donatello's shadow cast upon dark sewer pipes - saturated in warm familiarity, sure, but not a striking image.
Part two already had so much going for it, it could do no wrong (at least in the way of that 'initial reveal') because this film was riding on the momentum of the comic book/cartoon/merchadise/successful first film. So, we weren't waiting to see what the turtles looked like or sounded like or how they carried themselves. We were just waiting to see them again! & what resulted is one of the greatest (catch me on another day, & I'll say the greatest) title cards of all time.
Shredder gets more screen time. & in that time, he proves to be more colorful; not in a foundering, Freddy Krueger kinda way, but he definitely lightens up - and the reason for this is that, unlike the first movie, Ooze is much more of a Turtles vs. Shredder story - which is very much what we (I) want! In other words, the first really set it up, & part two knocks it down -- or, it's meant to anyway...
Why it's worse
Ohhhhh dear, oh dear.
Well, for starters, I place part one at the same level as Burton's Batman; in quality, tone, & texture. Same Level. To put it differently, I hold it in extremely high regard & it's exactly how it should be.
So, the easiest & most obvious backslide is replacing Casey Jones with a teenage pizza delivery boy who does karate. This is bad for several reasons:
Like Slimer, Frank the Pug, Short Round, Jar Jar Binks, and Scrappy Doo - somehow, someone, somewhere, thought the children's movie wasn't nearly childish enough. That, somehow, no way could a sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles appeal to kids. At least that's what I'm getting from it.
Because, yes, Casey Jones was a very mature element & high point of part one, and what made it better (& worse that he was absent in two) is that Elias Koteas's performance (like all of his performances, as few as there are) is underrated to the point of tears. And while he said/she said banter rooted in 'sexual tension' always feels forced & causes a lotta eye-rolling, the scenes between Casey & April are actually really really good, and can hold their own against most of the action sequences (which, ironically, feel forced). Yeah, it was paint-by-numbers dialogue, but it was an attempt at maturity, and reciprocated between two great actors playing great characters, respectively...
Which brings up another point - in part one, Judith Hoag plays April as sweet & spunky; almost kinda hippie-ish. Worldly. She wears shorts & sits with her knees to her chest. She has literal antiques in the attic & a cliched 'family farm.' Ooze replaced her with Paige Turco, as a cold city slicker. She wears suits. Her apartment is sterile & she's generally disgusted with the messiness of the teens. Apart from the obvious division of acting ability (and, sorry, looks) there was a serious character relapse in the writing here; from character to caricature.
The subtitle Secret of the Ooze promises some mystique or unveiling of some kind. But, in fact, there was no Secret - we kinda already knew all about it & weren't given any new information. Like the exhilarating title card, it's one of several promises that simply don't follow through...
So, we got some ooze floatin' around; maybe there's a chance of a Rocksteady & Be-Bop?!
Nope. Close, but... nope. And why not? Seriously - why not?! Instead we get Tokka and Rahzar, who, let's be honest, are filling in. We can at most project our fantasy that when they fight them, they're fighting Rocksteady & Be-Bop.
And they do! They fight them! They fight Shredder, his mutants, and the Foot Clan in a 'climactic sequence' in this Turtles vs. Shredder movie. How great is that?! What element could possibly be added to make such a sequence less great?
You know, nostalgia is fun, & irony will get a chuckle outta me, & we can always point & laugh at dated popular culture & make fun of the way things were. But you know what? Sometimes, I don't wanna. I can't call something "awesome" when it's clearly just stupid. I'm sure I've stressed it before, but I don't believe in guilty pleasures, because I have no guilt for what I take pleasure in. Thereby, I carry no guilt for the climax of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the Ooze, because, I don't take pleasure in it.
"And I thought all the really good dungeons were in Europe."