Hello, I’m a unicorn, and welcome, once again, to Ninja Turtles month. This month is the heroes in a half-shell turn thirty, so I thought I’d kick it off with their first and best cinematic appearance. But does it hold up to modern standards? Let’s find out.
The basic plot is that a gang of ninjas and runaways are creating havoc by stealing everything they can get their hands on. Ace reporter, April O’Neil, gets too close to their leader, the Shredder, and is rescued by the eponymous Ninja Turtles, who are old enemies of the Shredder. Meanwhile, there is a subplot with a kid that no one cares about. Let’s break this down to the tubular and the parts that are grody to the max.
Duuude, that sounds, like, totally radical.
The Tubular: Holy Hera, the Turtles look fantastic. Even now, the costumes, courtesy of Jim Henson, hold up really well. I mean, just look at them:
While their fight scenes are sometimes shot in the shadows or obscured by smoke, this is forgivable because when the battles are visible, they look great. The acting is excellent, especially April and Casey. I’ve said before that I don’t really like her as a reporter, but Judith Hoag is so good that I don’t mind as much. Here’s a fun fact. A teacher in my middle school was a double for April in the movie and her hand can be seen in one of the scenes. Anyway, Elias Koteas is awesome as the nutjob with a hockey stick. The voice acting on the Turtles and Splinter is very well done and the Shredder is as dangerous as ever. The humor is hit and miss, with some very funny moments and some lines that are cheesy. My favorite moments were of the heartwarming variety, the discussions between Splinter and his sons, and when Raph and Leo make up after their first defeat.
The Grody to the Max: Danny. Oh, great Krypton, Danny. I think this sums up my feelings of him being in this movie.
Ugh, this kid. This freaking kid. Waaah, woe is me. I live in an economically stable home with a dad that loves me and has the gall to care for me. My life is so hard. Waaah. If this kid hadn’t been and idiot and joined the Foot Clan, Splinter wouldn’t have been kidnapped, Raph wouldn’t have been hurt, April wouldn’t have lost her home, and Shredder wouldn’t have discovered that the Turtles were back from April’s farmhouse and they could have had the element of surprise. Yeah, so pretty much every misfortune that falls on the heroes is caused by this knucklehead. Come to think of it, Danny is the real antagonist. I mean, think about it. He’s directly caused the Turtles more grief than the Shredder just by his own idiocy. I guess they were trying to draw parallels between the father son relationships of Splinter with the Turtles and this Yucko with his father, but it wasn’t really effective because this is just him whining about having a decent dad. Look, I can understand that he’s trying to become a man when his dad thinks he’s just a kid, but he does nothing to prove that he’s mature enough to become an adult, so when his dad agrees to just call him Dan, it’s a poor pay off. I just really hate him, and the fact that every second he’s on screen is a second that I could use to geek out over the Turtles costumes.
Man, this kid is gnarly.
So, has this movie aged well? Yes and no. A lot of the dialogue, especially the “totally radical” speak and the pop cultural references have not. This film is the 80’s in a nut shell, but it’s also still a lot of fun. When the jokes are funny, they are really funny, but when they fall flat, they crash and burn. The fight scenes and acting is fantastic, even through the cheesy lines. The story has plenty of dark moments and is much closer to the comics, which I was grateful for. Speaking of which, time for a little ranting on the new film coming out this year. The biggest defense I’ve heard for it is that the film’s made for nine year olds, so it doesn’t matter if it’s bad or stupid because it wasn’t made for adults. I’m going to call bull dung on that. Ninja Turtles are universal. Boys love them. Girls love them. Five year olds love them and adults love them. The original comics were intended for adults, and two out of the three animated shows appeal to all ages. I grew up on the 2003 series, which had one beheading, no less than four impalements, one creature literally shot in half with a gun, a man slowly go insane as his body decays, and every single character die in an alternate universe and in the main universe. All of this was in a show intended for kids. Even now, when I watch it again as a fifteen year old, it still holds up, and I’m impressed with the violence a “kids” show got away with and still remained fun. This movie struck a great balance between violence, tear jerkers and humor that I enjoyed in the first grade and still enjoy now. This movie proves that Ninja Turtles can be appeal to all ages. I hate this argument because it’s just a lazy justification for a bad adaption of good source material. By saying this, you’re saying that you don’t care about that character you grew up with and loved. You’re saying that kids can’t be challenged and that they’ll eat up anything with a familiar label. You’re saying that you’re okay with crap coming out of Hollywood instead of good stories that inspire generations of new Ninja Turtles fans. I’m a firm believer that kids are smarter than people give them credit for and should be challenged with good stories. By dismissing something as “just a kid’s film” you say that you’re okay with Hollywood thinking that children are morons. Movies should be evaluated by whether or not it is good, not what age group it is intended for. I, myself, still haven’t decided if I’m going to watch the new movie because it does not look good. I’m trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, because I believe that it can’t possibly be as awful as The Next Mutation or TMNT III, but I’ve been proven wrong before and with every trailer, I’m getting more and more scared for my favorite heroes.
Speaking of TMNT III…
*Gulp* that’s next post up, isn’t it?
Yep. And after that the 2007 film. Muahahahahahah!
Goody goody gumdrops. Well, hopefully, I’ll also have the Amazing Spider-man and Turtles Forever to look forward to. Hopefully. Anyway, sorry about the rant. As to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, what are you waiting for? Grab a pizza slice, become a kid again, and watch it now. Cowabunga!
No. Just no. Let’s stop now. Please. This is just sad.