Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles (1990)

TMNT1

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Nostalgic, but aged.

I feel like I understand the fans of the original Planet of the Apes films a bit more now. They grew up with the franchise, and the very things that defined the apes in the original series were very classic and unmistakable…and they were changed in the remakes. If you’re stuck on what was what back then, then no, you’re not going to enjoy the newer film very much. I haven’t seen Michael Bay’s version of the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, because I grew up in the ‘90s for the most part. So, I grew to know the live-action, smart-mouthed, bad suited turtles. That’s how I knew them…I also haven’t seen TMNT for the same reasons, but that’ll all change soon. I decided to start my turtle-y adventure with the first film back in 1990…I was only two years old when this was released.

This is as basic of a storyline as you’ll probably ever get, because it really didn’t need a lot to get the point across. The turtles in question, if you’ve been under a rock for the last 30 years, are four turtles that were exposed to radioactive materials, making them evolve, more or less, exponentially to the point where they are as tall as a regular person, can talk, and even fight – thanks to their rat sensei. When a group of ninjas are taking the unloved children of the world under their wing – multiplying the crime rates in the city, the turtles have to get everything back to normal without being seen. This gets increasingly difficult when Shredder kidnaps Splinter.

So this is the stuff, more or less, that I grew up with. I can’t say I really remembered much of anything other than what the turtles looked like, but the look and feel in general is what I associate the Ninja Turtles with. It’s very nostalgic for me, so it’s hard to be objective, but I can say with certainty…that the suits look pretty dumb for a modern audience. No kid is going to watch this and think it’s cool…no…that’s what us washed up ‘90s kids think – and we’re weird for thinking it. On the other hand, the variety of facial expressions the turtles gave is pretty impressive…which made me think they had to have a lot of masks.

The Ninja Turtles are probably a part of what made me so interested in martial arts as a kid, that and Power Rangers. It’s easy to see why, too. As far as choreography goes, it’s not half bad. It’s not exactly The Raid, but it’s also miles ahead of John Wayne or Captain Kirk. There’s violence, but it’s pretty tame for a younger audience to enjoy…which I think worked really well in 1990…but as for today…I really don’t think many people would care to check it out.

The story itself was also very basic and in my opinion…tame. I mean, you have the end battle between the turtles and Shredder, and the revenge plot with Splinter…but the dialogue during these scenes is really stupid when you think about it. I’m not sure how Michael Bay got around a really stupid origin story, and I’m interested in seeing his take…but this movie just had the worst script. The attitude of the turtles was okay, but I never laughed at any of the jokes. I hate to say it, but in the end it’s kind of dull because it lost most of its effectiveness.

It’s not looking so good for the theory that the older turtle movies will always be the best…because I still have quite a few more movies to get through.

The Good:

If you watch movies for nostalgia and are familiar with the live-action Ninja Turtles movies, then watch it. It’s full of nostalgia, which can be a lot of fun.

The Bad:

Nostalgia will never save a movie from what nowadays we consider a bad script, bad costumes, and over-the-top origin stories that don’t make a lot of logical sense. I mean, it’s pretty clear to me that Splinter was just a pet rat that learned martial arts by watching his master. He never had any radioactive materials, and yet he grew and learned to speak….doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

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