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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The 1990 American live-action film based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

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Turtle Power!

  • Apr 16, 2010
  • by
The original movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is 20 years old this year. If you were like me, who grew up on them, time seems to have flown pretty fast. Yet, today,. the Turtles endure. They even got a reboot of sorts for a new generation. If you're like me you whole heartily agree this version of the Turtles is the best one.

This movie has a lot going on in it. After some research I've found that though it got some slight rewrites, for whatever reason, it follows the general canon exceptionally well. Today hardly any names in this movie would be recognized. Elias Koteas(Casey Jones) still does a lot of acting these days. The other actors are still unknowns or when in the Turtle suits would be unrecognizable anyway. This movie also shows the talent of the amazing Jim Henson, who created the puppet-type bodies the actors would use throughout this movie and to the third one. Movies like this simply aren't made anymore.

The movie is the origin story. Introduction of April to the Turtles, Shredder, Splinter's past are all covered in the movie. What I didn't know at 10 when I saw it, and only now after researching it, was how close they really got to the comic in places. Raphael meets Casey Jones by getting into a fight with him, in the movie it happens when they both are trying to stop the same purse snatcher. The getaway to April's family estate also happens in the comic and the movie mirrors it.

This movie stands the test of time as a very good movie and very strong story. The writing works all around. Every turtle is well developed and their personalities are obvious. Shredder, though says a lot less, has his personality crafted in flashbacks by Master Splinter. Splinter is well covered as well using the same flashbacks and filling the old sage and mentor role he's always been known for. April is quite the person you think of when you remember the reporter on the cartoon. Casey Jones' nuances are clear too and his introduction as a vigilante is quite clear.

This movie has some really funny jokes in it too. Nothing vulgar or crass, just silly and fun. It's very clean humor, campy but not too much, and takes itself just seriously enough to make all the backgrounds of the characters and the lore really matter and mean something. Some quick quotes to jog your memory if it's been too long since you've seen this movie:

Raphael: "Cricket? No one understands cricket! You've got to know what a crumpet is to understand cricket!"

Donny: "These guys aren't lumberjacks!"
Mikey: "No joke dude! The only thing safe in the woods would be the trees!"

Raphael: "You guys must be studying the abridged version of ninja fighting."

I think I like this movie more now than I did when I was a kid. The story is well known and there really isn't a huge need to go over it. This is the movie where both Casey Jones and the Shredder are total badasses compared to the movies that followed. If you've seen this I hope I brought back some memories, if you haven't, you can find it cheaply on DVD so give it a watch. Relive what you grew up on again, or if you didn't grow up on this group of Turtles, you'll see why we were such huge fans as kids.
Turtle Power! Turtle Power! Turtle Power! Turtle Power!

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December 18, 2010
Great review. First time I saw this movie (before I discovered the original B&W comics which sealed my fate) I had the uncanny impression that I already knew these guys. Thus began my 20 year love affair with four adolescent turtles. This movie was the trigger.
July 01, 2010
Dude, this movie totally rocked! I was a Mikey fan through and through. My favorite color was orange and I loved to goof off and eat pizza, so when I saw the movie and cartoon I was hooked! I don't know how anyone could hate this film. Go green, I love being a turtle!!
April 23, 2010
I absolutely adore this movie! I loved Donatello when I was younger because I thought he was so smart, lol! I was such a nerd that I liked a fictional nerdy turtle! Isn't that funny? I own this film too, I should re-watch it sometime. It's been ages since I last saw it! Thanks for writing such a memorable review on it!
December 18, 2010
LOL! I never would have guessed you were a TMNT fan. I love this movie, the comics, and the old cartoon too. I'm even a little bit embarrassed to admit I had a few of the action figures when they first came out back in the '80s.
December 20, 2010
But of course! I used to dream of the turtles when I was younger. I thought Donatello was awesome because he was so smart. I have the films, some of the old comics, and practically the entire television series. I even watched the new cartoon version they created. April and Casey finally got married! I'm not even ashamed to admit that I still own some of the action figures. :D
April 19, 2010
Yes, TURTLE POWER! I grew up on TMNT, too. I think this was actually the first movie that I had ever seen in theaters, so they were a really big deal to me. I had TMNT everything -- toys, coloring books, folders, you name it. I even slept on TMNT printed sheets for years. Anyhoo, fantastic take on a most excellent movie, Robby!
More Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (... reviews
Quick Tip by . May 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I just watched this movie last night for the first time in around 20 years, and it's still a barrel of fun after all these years!!  This movie is quite darker than the animated series that was out at the time, and was a fine balance of well-done martial arts action and humor.  The puppetry for the Ninja Turtles and Splinter are really good, too.      Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) is the perfect movie to watch on those nights when you want a fun-filled …
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I'm a huge Alexz Johnson fan and of the girl group Lady Phoenix. I love One Tree Hill and the good old days of professional wrestling. My favorite movie of all time is probably Fight Club. You can find … more
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the 1990 American live-action film based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The film was followed by three sequels, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze in 1991, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in 1993, and TMNT in 2007. This film presents the origin story of Splinter and the Turtles, the initial meeting between them, April O'Neil and Casey Jones, and their first confrontation with Shredder and his Foot Clan. The film's core plot closely follows that of the first published TMNT stories, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1,10-11, Raphael#1, as well as the Return To New York storyline (#19-21). This movie is distributed by New Line Cinema and outside the United States is internationally distributed by 20th Century Fox.

When the NYPD is unable to stop a severe crime wave caused by the Foot Clan, four new vigilantes, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael, come forth to save the city. Under the leadership of Splinter and together with their new-found allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, they fight back and take the battle to Shredder.

The film kept very close to the dark feel of the original comics with several elements also taken from the animated series that was airing at the time, such as April being a news reporter, and the turtles having different-colored masks, as opposed to the uniform red masks of the comic. The film received mostly positive reviews, was the highest-grossing independent film of all ...
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