Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Plot: New York City is under a terrible crime wave perpetrated by the mysterious Foot Clan, a ninja gang led by Shredder (James Saito). When four teenage mutated turtles, trained in martial arts, threaten the Foot Clan, they kidnap their mentor Splinter (Kevin Clash). The Turtles must train harder than ever as they try and discover where their master is being held with the help of vigilante Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) and TV News Reporter April O’Neal (Judith Hoag).
The brilliance of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that it had all the makings of a complete and utter failure. Think about it; a live action movie about four big turtles that do martial arts and have a big rat as their mentor. Instead of failing, it became an instant classic. The costumes designed by the Jim Henson people are simply amazing. Not only do they not look stupid and goofy, but you don’t even think about it. It’s an incredible achievement on how these costumes express emotion and how the people inside them can demonstrate such unbelievable martial arts. Now getting to the actual movie…it’s damn good. It’s serious. It’s got real character development. And it still appeals to kids. All four turtles have distinct personalities where they could have easily been made interchangeable by a poor script. And the emotion they get out of Splinter is really the costume in my opinion that steals the show. There is one scene where Raphael and Splinter have a deep heart to heart moment, and it’s truly effective. And let’s not forget…it’s a giant turtle and rat talking in a sewer and it works! There are the stuffy critics that will refuse to get over the turtle factor, but screw them. Honestly, there may not be a movie that warms my heart more than this one. Cowabunga dammit, I love this film and always will.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (OMG)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout)
Best Performance: Judith Hoag as April O’Neal
-She really is the heart of this movie. You truly see the film through her eyes. She’s so likable, and such a damn good reporter. But why does she have to take Raphael’s sai at the beginning. Come on April! All the voice acting is fantastic, but April really is the human character the film needs.
Worst Performance: Toshishiro Obata as Tatsu
-This guy pretty much does nothing but grunt the whole time, but he’s got one scene where he has extended dialogue with Shredder. It’s terrible delivery, really awful. Just stick to the grunting Toshishiro, alright.
Best Line: “Death comes for us all Oroko Saki. But something much worse comes for you. For when you die, it will be…without honor.”-Splinter right before Shredder dies.
-Sums up Splinter perfectly. Bad Ass.
Worst Line: “She’s a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabe.” –Michelangelo watching April on TV
-Michelangelo says this like he’s stoned or something. Take it easy Mike.
-It’s got to be the brawl at April’s apartment, and later the antique store. This is classic ninja turtles. They beat the shit out of countless foot soldiers. Michelangelo has a cool nunchuck showdown. And of course, the turtles constantly use the environment and objects around them to fight, a classic ninja turtles method. And then it gets really intense when Casey Jones comes into it, and the antique store gets on fire and the really intense music starts kicking in…a great movie brawl.
-When we see Shredder revealed for the first time and he’s addressing all his students, he shouts “I am your father.” He’s got that mask on, and you can’t help but think it’s a Darth Vader rip-off. I mean, couldn’t the writers change it up a little. It’s just so blatant.
-I got to go with the very beginning. April is getting mugged and then we suddenly see a sai thrown at the light. OMG. It goes completely dark, we hear the turtles kicking ass, and it’s great. And then when the melee is over, we get that awesome shot of Raphael’s red head band coming out of the sewer hole as the police sirens flash. I love it.
-It’s that stupid shot of Splinter as a pet rat doing martial arts in the cage. Look, it’s really bad, but at least it’s about only two seconds long. I just don’t understand why they didn’t use the cartoon origin where Splinter was a human and the mutagen turned him into a rat. It’s just a bad decision here.
-There’s a ton of legit hysterical Michelangelo lines, but when him and Donatello are watching a tortoise and the hare cartoon, and Michelangelo flips out at the tortoise losing, it gets me every time. He shouts out, “Ninja kick the damn rabbit…do something!” Come on, that’s pretty funny.
Bad Ass Moment:
-This was a tough one. I almost went with Casey Jones using the golf club against Tatsu, but I got to go with the Michelangelo head tuck inside the shell move. I know we’ve seen it a hundred times, but think back to when you first saw it…its pretty bad ass.