UNFAIR COMPARE, TMNT SEQUEL EDITION: SECRET OF THE OOZE vs. OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Man, guys, I’ve been putting this off for a week. Though to be fair, I’ve been working on other stuff (including blog-type stuff) so .. .that’s alright, isn’t it? Still, I finally decided to bite the proverbial bullet, not to mention the literal pizza, which brings us to another installment of UNFAIR COMPARE!
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: The Secret of the Ooze
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: Out of the Shadows.
I mean, they’re both sequels, the second in their respective franchises. And, y’know, if nothing else, this goes to show that in these UNFAIR COMPARE segments, the earlier movie isn’t necessarily the better one.
Because, honestly, Secret of the Ooze is a shitty movie.
With the ridiculous blockbuster success of the first TMNT movie, there was a huge rush to cash in on TMNT-mania and crank out a new movie as soon as possible. But, due to general pearl-clutching and hand-wringing from the kind of parents that are out to ruin everyone’s fun, the best stuff from the first movie (ninja weapons, occasional swearing, Casey Jones) was excised. I don’t remember there being an outbreak of nunchuck based violence when I was a kid, but I was pretty sheltered. In contrast, Out of the Shadows is kind of the opposite: it brings in a bunch of new elements (like the Turtle Van!) for a much lighter tone, which makes it a stronger movie. Maybe not a particularly good movie, but a better one. Plus, it’s got so much CGI that it’s pretty much a cartoon anyway, so it’s nice to see the movie go in that direction.
Time for a quick breakdown–
Secret of the Ooze has a different actress playing April, as well as … some random-ass kid named Keno. He’s pretty clumsily shoehorned into the movie to add an unnecessary kid-identification character. And, like pretty much every other kid-identification character, he’s an awful drag on the movie whenever he shows up.
On the rewatch, I just noticed David Warner plays the obligatory mad scientist dude, labcoat and all. I’m assuming he’s not Ra’s Al Ghul in disguise.
Casey Jones isn’t in Secret of the Ooze— and he’s not in Out of the Shadows, either. The latter has a character named Casey Jones, but instead of a hockey-stick wielding vigilante, he’s just a corrections officer who’s chasing after Bebop & Rocksteady. (A corrections officer who can afford to drive around in a gleaming $50,000 sports car, but I digress). There’s a brief ‘mask and hockey stick’ fight, but once you get past that, Casey’s just a ‘generic everyman’ character, because Hollywood can’t make a movie without one. See also: Transformers.
The fact that Casey Jones was played by Stephen Amell threw me off, too– I’ve gotten so used to watching him on Arrow that hearing him speak in something other than a gravely vigilante-voice was too weird.
At least Meghan Fox is decent, I guess? It’s not her fault they had to work in a contrived reason for her to sashay around in a midriff-bearing schoolgirl outfit.
With their character traits developed in the first movie, the turtles … don’t really have much of an arc in Secret of the Ooze. Raphael does the ‘rebellious loner’ thing for a little bit, but other than that, the turtles are pretty much live action cartoons. Then again, it’s silly to be asking for things like ‘character arcs’ from a movie like this, but I’m putting the ‘unfair’ bit in. unfair compare.
Meanwhile, the turtles in Out of the Shadows are … slightly less obnoxious. They still look like the Hulk’s poop-babies, but the visual distinction between them seems different from the last movie. Like, Raphael looks bigger and hulkier, while Donatello is more of a skinny nerd. Fair enough.
Out of the Shadows also throws in the obligatory ‘heroes doubt themselves and want to be normal’ subplot you see in every superhero movie sequel these days. It’s about as interesting as you can imagine. Thankfully, Out of the Shadows really picks up once it gets past this plotline and hits …
THE BAD GUYS
So in The Secret of the Ooze, Shredder inexlicably survives having his head crushed by a garbage truck, and … well, he’s a quintessential example of a villain that looks cool, but ultimately doesn’t do anything, down to the ridiculously anticlimactic ‘super shredder’ ending. Meh.
However, as part of his EEEEBIL PLAN, he steals some ooze of his own and makes his own mutants– Tokka and Rahzar, a pair of critters made up for the movies, since they didn’t want to use the cartoon-created Bebop & Rocksteady. IP law gets weird when you start going from one medium to another.
Meanwhile, Out of the Shadows has Shredder return, only this time he’s working with Baxter Stockman (goofily, nerdily played by Tyler Perry, who I can only assume is happy whenever he’s in a movie that lets him wear pants), and alien brain-creature KRANG. I mentioned Krang in my previous take on the TMNT flicks, so I can only assume Hollywood got the idea from me, and therefore they should totally send me royalty money.
But it gets better!
As Out of the Shadows features Bebop and Rocksteady– a pair of petty crooks turned goons. And they’re PERFECT. Where the Turtles are all gnarly looking and ‘reimagined,’ Bebop & Rocksteady look pretty much EXACTLY as they did in the cartoon.
What’s even better? Out of the Shadows never tries to make these two idiots into dark and scary villain types– they’re just dumb muscle/comic relief, and a joy to watch whenever they show up. I’d honestly watch a whole damn movie about these two guys being best bros and smashing stuff and doing crimes for ninety minutes.
Yes, we all remember the Ninja Rap. Unfortunately.
Out of the Shadows has the better soundtrack. At least, it does whenever Bebop & Rocksteady show up. Which fits, given their names. Seriously, blaring Edwin Starr’s “War” while two mutant hooligans drive a tank through the Brazillian rainforest is one of the best uses of music in any movies ever.
Both The Secret of the Ooze and Out of the Shadows are shameless cash-in kid movies. It’s funny, though, that while Secret of the Ooze suffers from becoming more kiddified, Out of the Shadows benefits from it. Then again, Out of the Shadows feels like it’s aiming more at fourth graders, vs. Secret of the Ooze‘s targeting towards first graders. Definite distinction there, y’know.