Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
|Year Of Production||1991|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (52:55)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Michael Pressman|
Twentieth Century Fox
John Du Prez
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
If there is one thing I should remember from my childhood, but don't, it's the craze that exploded for all things relating to the comic book called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Actually, the craze more related to the television show - a rather sanitised, very brain-dead-child-oriented version of the adventures that were detailed in the comic books. Whilst the hype and craze revolving around the television series brought all sorts of useless merchandising onto the market, the first film adaptation of the comic books stuck more to the comic books themselves.
Major studios were falling all over themselves to get the rights to this franchise, but the comic book's creators gave a little South-East Asian studio known as Golden Harvest the nod because of the atmosphere they could give the film. Just watch old episodes of the television series and compare them to the film, and you'll see what I mean. Unfortunately, the lads at Golden Harvest managed to blow all of their newfound cash on two sequels, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze was the first of them.
The story begins with Leonardo (Mark Caso), Donatello (Leif Tilden), Michelangelo (Michelan Sisti), and Raphael (Kenn Troum) going about their normal business while the Foot clan are regathering their strength. Oruku Sake (François Chau), a.k.a. The Shredder, who was seemingly flattened in a dumpster during the previous episode, manages to haul his carcass out of the garbage and comes back to lead his old clan. Meanwhile, April O'Neil (Paige Turco) is covering a clean-up effort by a company known as TGRI, prompting the Turtles' sensei, a mutant rat who calls himself Splinter (Kevin Clash), to reveal some rather interesting secrets about their origins. Shredder, under the guidance of a scientist named Jordan Perry (David Warner), is busy using the same chemicals to create super-mutants of his own (and no, they bear no resemblance to the ones in the television series).
That's absolutely all of the "plot" there is to this film, so don't say I didn't warn you about how utterly silly this piece is. Given that the Turtles craze died a very abrupt death around the time that this film was released, it astounds me that any film studio would deem it worthy of the necessary effort to have it released on DVD-Video when there are so many other, much more successful, independent comic book characters out there. By the way, keep your eyes peeled for a rather embarrassing cameo from Vanilla Ice during the nightclub scene at 66:25.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. There is one specific complaint I have about this transfer that I will get out of the way now in order to save us all some time - it is way too dark. Indeed, even looking at it on my software DVD-ROM player, it looks almost as if the film had been shot in a mineshaft with minimal lighting.
The transfer is very sharp, with plenty of detail on display during the few brightly lit scenes of the film, so much of it that the old VHS cassettes can be thrown out. Unfortunately, this is generally a very dark film, with most of the action taking place in low-lit locations, and it appears that this transfer has been taken from a source where the brightness level has been set too low. As a result, the shadow detail is rather poor, and there are scenes in which it is very difficult to make out what is going on. Mercifully, there is no low-level noise in the darker parts of this transfer.
The colours in this transfer are fairly bright and luminous when the overall brightness level of the transfer allows us to see it. Each turtle is only identifiable by the colour of the bandana they wear, so the colours here would be well-represented if it weren't for the poor brightness levels. There were no composite artefacts in evidence.
MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of occasional instances of aliasing on such things as steps (eg 2:48), but the diffuse light levels and slight softness of the picture meant that this artefact didn't show up often. Film artefacts were a small nuisance in this transfer, however, with a number of sizeable black and white marks appearing in the picture at regular intervals.
There are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles present on this disc. They do a reasonable job of translating the spoken dialogue, without being too great.
This disc makes use of the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 10 and 11, at 52:55. This is just after David Warner says "fantastic", and while it is noticeable, it is probably the best place in the film for a slight pause.
There are five soundtracks on this DVD, all of which are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. The film was originally presented in Dolby Stereo, so this is an accurate representation of what was presented theatrically.
The first, and default, soundtrack is the original English dialogue, followed by dubs in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. I stuck with the original English dialogue.
The dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, but when the villains or less important characters speak, it becomes somewhat indistinct, which makes me glad that subtitles are available. François Chau's voice has a noticeable effect used on it that makes him somewhat hard to follow at times, but his dialogue was the only serious problem. There were no serious problems with audio sync, save for a slight problem with the lip movements of the puppets, which is only to be expected given the conditions the film was made under.
The music in this film consists of a score by John Du Prez and a number by Vanilla Ice that will have the viewer crying in fits of unintentional laughter. The score music was barely noticeable a lot of the time, with the occasional accompaniment to action sequences only serving to highlight the coy and restrained nature of the film.
The surround channels were barely used in this soundtrack. I often put my ear to the rear speakers in order to make sure that they were working - there were times when I heard silence, and times when I heard a little bit of the music or indistinct sound effects, but that was it. They were more active during the Vanilla Ice number, but this only served to highlight how underutilised they were during the other ninety percent of the running time.
The subwoofer was not specifically encoded into this soundtrack. It occasionally received redirected signal from my receiver for such bass-heavy effects as when the mutants are hitting things on the ground, but that was really it.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static, 16x9 Enhanced, and easy to navigate.
This one minute and forty second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;
Aside from the chance to add pieces of redundant picture information to the top and bottom of the frame (and believe me, you do notice that absolutely nothing is happening in those parts of the picture on the VHS version), there is not much difference between the two versions of this DVD. One customer review on Amazon states that the picture quality of the Region 1 DVD is not much better than VHS, so it appears that the dark, washed-out transfer is something we are not alone in having. The local version is cheaper, and I would hazard a guess that the RSDL formatting allows smoother compression.
Overall, I found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze to be one of the (unintentionally) funniest films I've ever seen, although I do feel it is a pity that Paige Turco hasn't had a chance to appear in something more substantial. She was pleasant to look at. However, there is very little on this DVD that would make me recommend parting with your hard-earned cash.
The video transfer is acceptable, but the brightness and contrast settings got a little messed up.
The audio transfer is okay, but the surrounds barely make a peep.
There is only a theatrical trailer in the extras department.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|