While I’m not too optimistic about Jonathan Liebesman’s 2014 TMNT reboot, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the worst of the turtles big screen adventures. Secret of the Ooze disappointed me as a formative youngster, and looking back its even worse than I recalled. In an effort to really hone in on what doesn’t work I’m going to focus on the characters to ensure this article does not resemble war and peace in length.
Keno is an ass
Secret of the ooze doesn’t waste anytime lowering the bar, as the film begins with the new character of Keno (Played by Ernie Reyes J.R. who was Donatello’s fight double in the original film). This character serves NO purpose and is clearly an introductory character to help the audience into this world of giant turtles. Because a sequel is where you need to help the audience into the film. In Hellboy they introduced Agent Meyers to fill this role, before realizing how unnecessary he was and cutting him from the Golden Army. Keno is also an ass. He is introduced hitting on a woman in a rude fashion, and when she shuts him down, he calls her fat. When he crashes April’s apartment looking for the turtles, rather than be grateful for being rescued (though after trashing four dudes so fast he may have been ok) he is pushy and an ass.
Shredder isn’t scary
The once intimating killer who corrupts children and tortures Splinter is now a wuss. He kidnaps Professor Jordan Perry to have him create mutants to battle the turtles (we’ll get to them next) and after discovering they act like babies orders them to be killed. Professor Jordan Perry refuses, and Shredder is cool with it. While brief the climatic showdown with Shredder in the first movie was intense and culminated with Leonardo about to be executed. This time Shredder drinks the ooze, and becomes Super Shredder. His frickin’ blades grow as does his shirt, no Hulk moment here. And after this build up he crushes himself.
Tokka and Rahzar are dumb
The new villains are intellectually babies and are defeated with fire extinguishers and donuts. As Stan the Man Lee would say, “Nuff said.”
April O’Neil exists
I wish this could be a Phillip K Dick style meditation, but it’s not. Aside from being recast, she’s now just there. When Keno crashes in on her and sees the nunchucks she picks them up, demonstrates she can’t use them while claiming, “likes to do a little chucking.” TMNT’s April would smack this lady around. After the events of the first film, is it unthinkable that April would want to train in martial arts. I sure as well would. Where before Judith Hoag’s April was a maternal figure that helped the Turtles, this time with Paige Turco is just there. While I miss Casey, I’d rather he be gone than simply there. (Yes this is a knock on the third film.
Yeah Ninja rap is born and killed. I didn’t like Vanilla Ice when the film was released and he is not an ‘artist’ that aged well. Even on a fun, dopey or even ironic level Ice’s Ninja rap sucks. Probably because he is in a in a film he doesn’t belong in and he performs a song that doesn’t belong in the movie and then makes it about himself. Seriously if in fact giant ninja turtles were fighting at a rap concert you were performing at, and you didn’t run away in fear and then free styled; you would make the song about yourself?
I dug (and made my Dad wait till it was over before we left the theatre) and still do the song Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme that closes out the credits of the first film. This one just makes me wretch, then now and forever.
Ultimately Secret of the Ooze fails because it fixes the problems that the first film didn’t have. In creating a safer flick, the producers shrunk the audience. The turtles in this film are banned from using their weapons and while the opening burglary at the mall sequence is kinda funny, the movie had a complete lack of tension or true sense of conflict. This film cost $25 million (compared to the original’s $13.5 million) and grossed $78 million domestically (compared to $135 million of the original), at the heights of TMNT’s popularity.
Fact checked at TurtlePedia; http://turtlepedia.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page