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Overall Rating
3.91

Awesome51.76%
Worth A Look: 11.76%
Just Average: 18.82%
Pretty Crappy: 10.59%
Sucks: 7.06%

3 reviews, 67 user ratings


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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The first TMNT movie. Disturbingly, it's probably not the worst."
2 stars

Well, I guess it was inevitable. First came the comic book, then the merchandise, then the cartoon, then the action figures, and now the movie: the live-action version of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is upon us. Is there anyone who was awaiting this with less enthusiasm than I was?

Never mind. The important thing is, this'll probably be the biggest hit of 1990 [2007 note: it wasn't; Home Alone was], because it has a huge built-in audience the little kids who watch the TMNT cartoon religiously. And indeed, the kids in the audience did seem to cherish the film but it's useful to remember that kids are known for eating their own boogers to see what the green stuff tastes like.

The green stuff on the screen takes the form of four warrior turtles named after Italian masters of art: Michaelangelo (that's how they spell it), Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo. They live in the sewers under the city and take orders from an oversized rat named Splinter. They meet an attractive TV reporter, April O'Neil (the lovely but untalented Judith Hoag). Some evil ninjas called the Foot (an in-joke for those who remember Frank Miller's run on the Marvel comic Daredevil, in which the evil ninjas were named the Hand) are after the Turtles; a Darth Vader clone called Master Shredder is their leader. Some nutso with a hockey stick (Elias Koteas) joins the Turtles. There's lots of fighting, rap music, pizza-eating, and general mayhem. All of it is about as boring as it sounds.

TMNT began life as a black-and-white comic book written and drawn by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The book was witty it parodied a bunch of popular comics, including The X-Men and Ronin. As soon as the Turtles themselves became popular and Christ, did they ever become popular they simply lost their edge. The subsequent cartoon was downright silly, and this new movie isn't much less puerile. Only one thing in it is striking: the Jim Henson Workshop's nicely realized Turtle suits. Henson's crew used animatronics to make the Turtles' mouths move naturally. Too bad the same couldn't have been done for the human actors, whose line delivery is unfailingly wooden.

Director Steve Barron lacks the necessary knack for cartoonish violence (someone like Sam Raimi would've been ideal), and the fight scenes come off dead. Barron can't make us forget that the Turtles look too clunky to be effective in battle. The photography is clunky, too whose idea was it to shoot the Turtles' flashback scenes in a grainy soft focus that makes the action look as though it was filmed through a pepper shaker? Screenwriters Todd W. Langen and Bobby Herbeck are more or less faithful to the comics, though they throw in more than their share of lame jokes. Couldn't Eastman and Laird have been tapped to prepare the script?

TMNT joins the limited but infamous ranks of Comics Characters Who Never Should've Gotten Their Own Live-Action Movie. I can think of only two other inductees to this hall of shame: 1980's Popeye, which at least sported some great sets and lively acting, and 1986's Howard the Duck, a witless bastardization of Steve Gerber's satirical cult phenomenon. Eastman and Laird didn't create the Turtles for little kids; they were meant to appeal to hip comics collectors, but tykes have embraced the heroes-in-a-half-shell anyway. I wonder if that makes Eastman and Laird a bit uncomfortable. The Turtles fight with great aptitude, using lethal weapons like swords and nunchaku, yet miraculously never kill anyone. Who's going to pay the hospital bills when dumb little kids emulate their Turtle heroes in the back yard with Dad's garden tools?

The Turtles worked fine on the page; they were clearly intended as parody, and the scuffles they got into were parodic, too. On the big screen, big as life and twice as ugly, they lose their parodic elements, glorifying inane violence more effectively than ever. 'TMNT' tries to be both kick-ass and cute, a toxic and unpalatable mix.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=877&reviewer=416
originally posted: 03/06/07 21:10:30
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TV to Screen: For more in the TV to Screen series, click here.
Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

4/08/14 Heidi Embrey Love this movie 5 stars
3/15/12 Sean This was the best of the original TMNT movie series. TMNT 2 & TMNT 4(2007) are good as well 5 stars
3/13/10 PAUL SHORTT MURKY COMIC-BOOK MAYHEM 2 stars
11/28/09 Honey I've gotta agree with the general consensus. EridDSnider, you're as bad as David Denby. 4 stars
7/21/08 the dork knight Still holds up pretty good 5 stars
3/28/07 Sugarfoot One of those movies that you love as a kid, and find harmless as an adult. 3 stars
11/23/06 Dark Enchantress & Jason great movie! Those turtles are hot! 5 stars
10/31/06 Ackles This movie and the 2003 series stay true to the comics. 87 toon and sequels sucked! 5 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer A true testament to the original comics. Serious kick ass action!!! 5 stars
3/19/06 Klondo you're a snob, EricDSnider, and you aren't funny. 4 stars
2/25/06 Dan Stands the test of time surprisingly well. I liked it as much now as I did as a kid in 1990 5 stars
12/02/05 cr a great cartoon becomes a action packed adventure, cool lines and nice turtle action! 4 stars
9/08/05 tony The best way to start a phenomenon. Filled with stunts and action 5 stars
8/24/05 ES this movie was the best when I was 13, has lost something since then 4 stars
10/29/04 Zach Yes, I do like it..... 5 stars
8/27/04 Brad Best action movie ever 5 stars
8/25/04 American Slasher Goddess Like alot of people, I liked it better as a kid, but it's still not bad 3 stars
6/03/04 Telisha Stamper THAT MOVIE ROCKS! THERE IS NO BETTER MOVIE THAN THE NINJA TURTLE SERIES! 5 stars
5/18/04 Kimberly Carouth It was a great movie! 5 stars
5/01/04 jesse it was a great movie wen i was young 5 stars
4/07/04 MAT S Brilliant appeals to kids and adults unlike the sequels. 5 stars
3/10/04 Mark This movie (despite what critics say!) is a classic and among my top 5 favourite movies 5 stars
1/07/04 betty ann dehart= splinterjunior91@webtv.net TMNT is the greatest, best there ever was,the actors in TMNT are the greatest 5 stars
12/08/03 Samuel Even as I get older its still a great movie!!] 5 stars
11/18/03 tatum Uh, no 2 stars
8/03/03 TurtlesAllTheWay I thought it was the best movie ever! I'll never get tired of watching it! COWABUNGA! 5 stars
7/28/03 Nicole loves Bret Hart! I did not like Raphael's temper tantrum! 4 stars
6/08/03 The Talking Elbow Instant cult classic 5 stars
6/01/03 Kid-P i watch this movie at least 5 times a week 5 stars
5/16/03 Turtle The best comic book movie ever. And also, the GREATEST lines in the history of film. 5 stars
4/05/03 TMNT fan Terrific costumes, poor acting, ridiculous, but fun, premise+ good fights and funny lines 4 stars
4/02/03 Zach GREAT 5 stars
3/06/03 jay great movie, they took somthing that was a joke and it in 2 awell writed movie 5 stars
3/03/03 May Great movie! 5 stars
2/19/03 Matthew Jones I loved this movie! Especially the final fight scene with Shredder 5 stars
12/29/02 Turtle Chick! By far the BEST, I MEAN BEST movie ever made! Totally awesome, dudes! 5 stars
12/15/02 Stefano Cricket? Nobody understands cricket... 5 stars
9/15/02 Nickokapo Best...Film...EVER ;) well maybe not, but at least it's my favorite movie. 5 stars
6/10/02 Zefram Mann I had this on video back in the day and wore the tape out. It's a good kids action flick. 5 stars
6/07/02 Charles Tatum Someone got rich off this half baked idea 2 stars
5/30/02 RAPH_fan this movie was pretty good, i hope the cg one will be even better 5 stars
5/12/02 Lord Fury TOTALLY AWESOME DUDES!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/11/02 Kevin You really have to see how bad the second one is to appreciate how good the first is. 4 stars
3/07/02 Butterbean Pokemon and Power Rangers made me yearn for the time the Turtles were popular 4 stars
2/05/02 Tommy Bragan This movie is the best Turtle movie yet to come out but CGI looks like it's going kick ass 5 stars
8/16/01 The turtles The best film i seen that year but its better than pokemon (crap) 5 stars
7/27/01 the scarecrow I did not not like this movie at all. 1 stars
6/10/01 Serial_Monk_the_Jawbreaker This movie is like STAR TREK: if you're a fan for now, you're a fan for life 5 stars
6/04/01 My name is none of your business Awesome movie as a kid and still is an awesome movie...just saw it again still hillarious 5 stars
4/12/01 Andrew Carden Kind of dull being an action movie, but OK. 3 stars
2/12/01 the Grinch Like a tab of bad acid... 1 stars
12/26/00 fifu this is a great movie i own it on DVD 4 stars
10/08/00 Samantha Dark, yet entertaining comody. It's hard to find, but worth the effert. 5 stars
9/21/00 Turtle Pull up a seat, get a pizza (hold the anchovies), and watch this movie! 5 stars
7/17/00 Joshua Farrelly Thats the 2nd movie you idiot. This one dosent have Vinilla Ice, this 5 star entertainment 5 stars
5/02/00 Bloodflower The movie is fun. So it's not a drama but it could have been SO much worse. 5 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers I loved the Turtles. Still do, but their big screen debut was not what I expected. 3 stars
2/11/00 steve layne Boy how I loved this as a kid. I still like it today, but im not really proud of it. 4 stars
9/10/99 Jason Kinsey turtles designed as the four horsemen of the apocalypse 1 stars
4/29/99 Sentaia E Poor Raphael *sniffle* 5 stars
2/03/99 Michelle Me Belle I STILL love this movie! The turtles rock! 5 stars
1/18/99 Dasha Oh, this was SO pathetic... Lame, awful, absolutely crappy... 1 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo HAd higher expectations for this. Where is Vanilla Ice nowadays anyhow? 1 stars
10/10/98 {{{OZ}}} Made my comic collection worth diddleysquat. God awful. 1 stars
9/28/98 jasper the best in entertainment 5 stars
9/24/98 ShadowStar COWABUNGA!!!! 5 stars
9/06/98 BBReBozo Sets a new standard in teenage mutant ninja turtle storytelling! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  30-Mar-1990 (PG)

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