tek's rating: ½

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PG)
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So, this movie came out in 1990. I absolutely cannot remember whether I saw it in the theater, or not until sometime later on TV or VHS or something. I should mention that it was based on comic books which were popular in the 80s, but which I never read. I was however familiar with the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was, if possible, even weirder than the movie. And which I think I liked more than the movie. Anyway... I watched the movie probably for the second time ever when I got it on DVD in 2013, and I didn't really remember any details about it.

Here's the plot: New York City is in the grip of a major crime wave, and the police seem unable to do anything about it. There's a reporter named April O'Neil (Judith Hoag) who's investigating the crime, and believes it's being committed by a group of ninjas called the Foot Clan. Meanwhile, there are these four humanoid turtles- Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello- who have been trained in ninjitsu for the last fifteen years by a humanoid rat named Splinter. (There's a backstory about how Splinter learned ninjitsu, himself, as well as how he and the turtles all grew to human size and developed intelligence, but I won't spoil any of that.) Um... so, one night the Foot attack April, and the turtles rescue her, but she doesn't see the turtles. The turtles, however, take a keen interest in her. Later, the Foot attack her again, and this time Raphael rescues her by himself, and brings her back to their lair in the sewer. Naturally, she freaks out at first, meeting anthropomorphic turtles and rat, but she gets over it pretty quickly, and they all become friends.

And... I don't really want to say too much else. I should at least mention a few more characters, though. There's the Shredder, who is the head of the Foot Clan. And his second in command, Tatsu. And a ton of kids who hang out with them (though not all of them are actually part of the clan, that's an "honor" they have to earn). One of the kids is Danny Pennington, who happens to be the son of April's boss. Danny's fairly important as a catalyst for various turning points in the plot. Also there's a hockey mask-wearing vigilante named Casey Jones, who gets into a fight with Raph, the first time we see him. But eventually he becomes an ally of the turtles, as well as constantly annoying April in a way that's obviously going to lead to romance, whether it makes any sense or not. Anyway, the turtles have several battles against the Foot, and of course they ultimately have to fight Shredder himself.

Um, so... the fight scenes are okay I guess, though certainly not as elegant as I've come to expect from martial arts movies; I'd almost call the fights cartoonish. But not quite. Mostly the movie is a comedy, with the turtles talking in almost constant one-liners and 80s "cool dude" cliched slang. Some of the stuff they (and other characters) say is actually kind of funny, but mostly it seems kinda lame, especially in retrospect. But somehow... it's a fun sort of lameness. The whole movie's just kind of redonk, the kind of thing you can enjoy because it's dumb... but on the other hand, it's not nearly as dumb as it could have been. And the more serious aspects of the plot are sort of okay. It's kind of hard to take it seriously, but... it's not bad. Oh, also I should mention Splinter and the turtles were made by the Jim Henson Creature Shop, so... they don't look as ridiculous as they could have, either. Anyway, it's basically a fun movie, and I guess that's all I have to say. Oh yeah, also I always really liked the song "Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme, which plays over the end credits.


weird index
comic book movies

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles * Secret of the Ooze * Turtles in Time * TMNT