Movie Review: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" (1993)
The last time we saw the Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo, they defeated Shredder a second time and gave Vanilla Ice a good performance all in one night. Somewhere between 1991 and 1993, the filmmakers decided it was time to take this popular film franchise down the toilet and into the sewers (no pun intended).
In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III", the turtles find themselves hurtled back in time to feudal Japan where they get themselves involved in a war between peaceful villagers and rival authorities. The time travel device? An ancient sceptor which, when it is held by two individuals from two different time periods, the two people end up exchanging places in time.
First April O'Neil goes, a Japanese warrior taking her place in the present. Then the four turtles go, and four more Japanese guys take their place. Casey Jones then comes over to help Splinter babysit these guys for the duration of the film (no joke).
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" is the most light-hearted of the films and that is one area it had gone way too far in. The first "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was a dark film with a lot of family themes in it like troubled youths, father and son, coming of age, right vs. wrong, and so on. It was nitty-gritty with a touch of sentimentality. Overall, it worked beautifully. It knew when to be funny and when to be serious and reflect without going too overboard.
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" saw somewhat of a decline in the dark elements as well as the violence level (i.e. the turtles hardly use their weapons in the film compared to the original), but it still managed to keep your interest piqued and had a lot of memorable moments and set pieces in it.
But when it comes down "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III', it might as well have been a made-for-TV sequel and it wouldn't have made a difference.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Musical
We open "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" with none other than a stupid dance sequence as the opening titles roll. See, there was a little dance scene towards the end of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" but it wasn't forced onto the audience and it sort of blended in seamlessly with the rest of the film.
In 'The Secret of the Ooze', the final battle carries over into a nightclub that happens to be next door and Vanilla Ice is performing there. The whole ninja rap song sort of complimented the fight scene in a way, it was a nice touch. In this third film, we just see the turtles dancing to some rock n' roll song inside their lair -- The execution is childish, stupid, and pointless.
The first two 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' opened with lots of cool scenery involving the Big Apple and didn't reveal the turtles right off the bat, it kept them hidden until the first fight of the film which unfolded within the first ten minutes or so. Why couldn't "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" follow suit?
Casey Jones -- Babysitter by Day, Hockey Fighter by Night
The good news about "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" is that good old Casey Jones is back. The bad news is that he is completely underused this time around. Apparently, it seems the only reason that they brought him back for the third film is to babysit a bunch of lost Japanese warriors in the present while our beloved ninja turtles are sent off on their time travel adventure.
"I knew it, I'm missing all the fun stuff", Casey Jones says upon arriving to babysit just before the ninja turtles leave into the time portal.
Yep, you nailed it, Casey, you nailed it right on the head. Blame the writers if you will. The last time we saw Casey Jones was in the very first "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie. He gave Raphael a good beating and soon lent a helping hand in nursing him back to health, he saved the ninja turtles when Shredder's foot clan ambushed them at the apartment building, then he single-handedly rescued Splinter and defeated Shredder's right hand man.
And now they brought him back, just to babysit.
Random Things That Make No Sense
- When the sceptor is used and the two subjects exchange places in time, they exchange each other's clothes as well. In April O'Neil's case, she happens to be wearing a pair of jeans and a leather jacket in the present. After the switch, April is donning ancient Japanese robe-wear in the past while the Japanese guy is wearing her present day clothes. One has to wonder if those panties might have been too tight on the poor guy, not once does he attempt to adjust a wedgie or anything. Just something to think about.
One of the most major reasons why this is the worst ninja turtles film is due to the lack of a good villain. In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III", the filmmakers decided not to use any of the well-known and established villains from the cartoon series. Instead, they settle for a Japanese leader and an American gunslinging fool who looks like he just walked off the set of "The Last Samurai".
It was already bad enough we had gotten Tokka and Rahzar instead of Beebop and Rocksteady in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze", but the results this time around are far worse. Shredder was already used twice, thank God they didn't use him again after the second film, have you seen what they've done to Lex Luthor in the 'Superman' films?
I guess a more logical choice for a villain, perhaps Krang, was not on the table for this movie? He could have fit in perfectly with the whole science fiction story-line here.
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