Movie Review: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" (1993)

1 star for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
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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.

Shredder Shredded

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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Comments 8 comments

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

I agree with you completely, as this does seem to be the weakest out of all the live action films. Personally, I was a bit surprised they didn't go with Baxter Stockman as the main villain in third movie, as he was shown running off with the Ooze by the end of the second movie, but they never show what happens to him exactly. Personally, I think what the writers should've done was write it to where it shows Baxter trying to get the Ooze back to his lab, but he accidentally trips or something and turns into a mutant fly like in the cartoon. from there, they can say he goes criminally insane, and blames the Turtles for the whole situation; thus he creates an army of mousers to help him destroy the turtles. Granted, I know that borders more into the science fictional side of things, but it would've been a lot more interesting than what we got with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III." I know some people have argued with me saying that it was obvious the director and writers were trying to make the movie like an episode in the cartoon, but as I told them, sometimes you can't expect what works in a cartoon to work in a movie, as those are completely different mediums.


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 5 years ago from NY Author

Stevennix2001,

Really? I don't seem to recall this in the second movie. Are you sure Baxter Stockman was in any way involved in the second film? I just double checked the cast list and didn't see his name anywhere. Unless you're referring to Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner)?


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Oh really? is that his character's name? Sorry, for some reason, I thought David's character was Baxter Stockman, but it looks like I'm wrong on that one. Sorry, it's been years since I've seen the Ninja Turtles films. Hmm..maybe instead what they could've done was once Professor Perry got the Ooze back to the lab, the company that he worked for could hire another scientist to take over the project with Baxter Stockman, who finds out about what happened in the last movie, so he decides to do a few illegal experiments with the ooze that causes him to mutate into a fly.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State

Haven't seen any of the "TMNT" films in years but I vaguely remember liking this one better than "II: Secret of the Ooze" merely for the fact that there was no Vanilla Ice in this one.


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 5 years ago from NY Author

Stevennix2001,

Yeah. Personally, I think that *should* have been Baxter Stockman and those two mutant freaks should have been Beebop and Rocksteady. They really screwed up on that end.

FatFreddysCat,

Ehh, I didn't think it was that bad. Initially, if I were to read it on paper beforehand, I would be like WTF? But after watching it, it kinda grew on me. But that's just me. Now, if they had Vanilla Ice playing an actual role in the film, like as the professor or the pizza delivery guy friend, I think this film would have been far worse. Because you know, nowadays, Hollywood would do something to that effect, like have Chris Brown play as the ninja turtles' right hand buddy or some crap.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Speaking of the TMNT movies, did you hear that Michael Bay is in charge of rebooting it with Platinum Dunes? Although they haven't announced who will direct the reboot yet, Michael Bay is going to be active Producer on it. I guess if the Transformer films are any indication of what to expect (or any Bay film period), then we can expect a lot of stereotypes, low brow humor, special effects heavy emphasis, a hot girl in skimpy clothes doing cover girl poses throughout the film, and things that go boom! lol


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 5 years ago from NY Author

Stevennix,

Yeah. Unfortunately, I doubt Bay's vision will capture the same magic that the original 1990 film did. Everything in that film was almost perfect. As I said in the above review, the first film balanced family themes with dark themes all with an important message, it did this magnificently.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

hey congratulations for getting your review link attached to imdb's external reviews for this movie. I was just checking out some of the other reviews on there by film critics, and your hub was one of the ones listed there for this movie. congratulations, as I can't say I'm not a bit jealous. lol. Anyway, keep up the good work though.

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