Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Director: Steve Barron
Writers: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Bobby Herbeck, Todd W. Langen
Cast: Josh Pais, Michelan Sisti, Leif Tilden, David Forman, Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, Michael Turney, James Saito, Toshiro Obata, Jay Patterson, Raymond Serra, Sam Rockwell, Kitty Fitzgibbon
Voice Cast: Robbie Rist, Corey Feldman, Brian Tochi, Josh Pais, Kevin Clash, David McCharen, Michael McConnohie
Synopsis: Through contact with a mysterious substance, called Ooze, 4 little turtles in the canalization of New York mutate to giant turtles. They can speak, walk upright and love pizza. The wise rat Splinter becomes their mentor and educates them to Ninja fighters. Their arch-enemy is the bad, bad guy Shredder, who struggles to gain power over the world. Of course the ninja turtles will do everything to stop him.
MPAA Rating: PG
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Intro
Man, I love being a turtle!!
Back in the late eighties to early nineties, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" were arguably one of the most popular fictional characters around. Not only did they become a pop culture phenomenon, but there used to be a point where anything with their names attached was an instant hit. Needless to say, the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" used to be pretty much every advertiser's wet dream, as you could market almost anything off their names; ranging from the usual toys, clothing, lunchboxes, video games and etc to the extremes like a Christmas special, ice shows, and concert tours.
The original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was based on the comic books by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. In the comics, it featured four turtles that were incidentally slimed by a highly unstable radioactive substance known as Ooze, which transformed them into humanoid turtle hybrids along with their Master Splinter, who was transformed into a humanoid giant rat. Since being transformed, Splinter soon raises the turtles as his own children, and teaches them the ways of the ninja. Needless to say, the comic book was such a huge success that it inevitably spawned it's own Saturday morning cartoon show, in the late eighties, along with various other merchandising opportunities. Unlike the dark tone of the comic books though, the cartoon was fairly light by comparison, as it blended a mixture of camp kid friendly entertainment with the lore of the comic books. As time went on, this only increased the turtles' popularity, so it was only natural that a movie was planned.
Enter the film, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." To be fair, most fans of the movies were mainly kids that grew up with the cartoons, so the movie had the daunting task of meshing the dark lore of the comics with the kid friendly cartoon tone, while trying to use the movies to introduce our heroes to a much broader audience. Not an easy task by any means. Anyway, how does the movie hold up? Quite well actually. In fact, it still stands the test of time, as it's arguably one of the best superhero adaptations ever conceived. Not only does the film give fans a plausible gritty feel that'll sure to make anyone suspend their disbelief in the name of cinematic fun, but it also meshes the perfect level of camp that the original 80's cartoon generated as well, without going needlessly over board with it.
The movie essentially starts off in similar fashion to the cartoon show, where April O'Neal (Judith Hoag) starts to suspect an ancient Ninja group known as the Foot Clan is behind a series of crimes hitting New York City recently. However, once it becomes apparent that she's getting in way too close to the Foot's operation, their fearless leader, the Shredder, orders his men to take her out permanently. Luckily though, she's saved by four mysterious strangers that turn out to be giant humanoid turtles, as they drag her back to their lair for safety. Shocked at first, as she's unsure what to make of all this, as I'm sure most people would considering the circumstances. However, Master Splinter calms April, as he explains to her their origins while they introduce themselves to her. Not only does he explain the very nature of their existence, but he also tells her that each of the turtles were named after his favorite Renaissance artists.
To make a long story short, April ends up bonding immediately with our four heroes in a half shell, as they joke around over a few slices of pizza back at her place. Unknowingly to the turtles though, a member of the Foot Clan managed to follow the turtles back to their lair when they originally saved her; thus when they return from hanging out with April at her place, they come to find out that their Master Splinter was taken hostage by the Foot. Now with nowhere else to turn, the Foot Clan mercilessly hunt down the turtles to the point of driving them out of the city for a while. However, it doesn't end there, as Shredder's past has an estranged connection with our four reptiles, but how is that possible? And why? What could be the connection between them? I can't really say without giving it away, as you'll just have to watch the movie to find out.
Luckily for the turtles, they have their friend, Casey Jones (Elias Koteas), with them to help them kick the Foot Clan's tail, while taking names doing it. For those wondering who Casey Jones is, he's basically an ex-Hockey player turned vigilante that relishes beating criminals to death with various sporting goods like baseball bats, hockey sticks, and golf clubs to name a few.
As I mentioned earlier, the story and tone of this movie really is well done. Sure, there's quite a few offbeat camp moments, but that's almost to be expected considering the film tries to mesh the dark gritty style of the comics with the light hearted fun of the original cartoon show. However, as campy as this film can get sometimes, it never distracts the audience when it enters it's more darker themes as well like the introduction of Shredder, as he's arguably one of the best on screen super villains ever produced. In the film, Shredder emits a strong sinister presence in essence of classic cinematic villains like Darth Vader, from "Star Wars", which only makes this movie even more of a treat to see.
As for the special effects, I have to say that even by today's standards that they would still hold up rather well. Not only does Jim Henson productions do a great job animating the turtle's facial features to seem plausible on screen, but it's almost amazing how well the costumes are designed to where the actors can display martial arts moves necessary for each choreographed fight scene. In fact, I would even be so bold to say that the fight choreography could easily rival most CGI heavy based action scenes to this day.
Overall, I think "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is arguably one of the best superhero adaptations ever made, and it definitely deserves props for it. Granted, Michael Bay's reboot may make more money than any of the previous adaptations, but it'll be interesting to see if his reboot will surpass the original in terms of quality. In the end, I'd give the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" a solid three out of four. I highly recommend it to anyone that not only loves the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", but any superhero fan out there, period.