More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 11.76%
Average: 18.82%
Pretty Bad: 10.59%
Total Crap: 7.06%

3 reviews, 67 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Lost, Found by Jay Seaver

Night of the Living Dead (1968) by Rob Gonsalves

Neomanila by Jay Seaver

First Man by Peter Sobczynski

Bad Times At The El Royale by Peter Sobczynski

Being Natural by Jay Seaver

Suspiria (1978) by Rob Gonsalves

Monsters and Men by Jay Seaver

Project Gutenberg by Jay Seaver

Hello, Mrs. Money by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Speaking of great films based on comic books, this isn't one."
3 stars

When the conversation turns to high-quality film adaptations of beloved comic books, certain films will invariably crop up. "Spider-Man" will be mentioned, as will the original "Superman" and the first "Batman," and maybe "X-Men." But what happens if you bring up "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"? The other people avoid your glance, shuffle their feet and awkwardly change the subject, that's what. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was a bad adaptation of a comic book that was highly questionable to begin with. You should have known that; it serves you right that now your movie friends think you're a moron.

In our analysis of this 1990 film, which starred no one and spawned two even more no-one-starring sequels, we must begin by accepting one thing: No film whose premise is that radiation can turn turtles into humanoids can be worth more than $1.50. If a person paid full price to see this movie, knowing full well what it was about, well, again, it serves that person right.

According to the lore put forth in the film, 15 years earlier -- 1975, that would be -- a rat by the name of Splinter happened upon four baby turtles who were crawling around in radioactive waste, as turtles are wont to do. The turtles and the rat began growing at an alarming rate, and they even learned to speak English, though I'm not sure how that happened, since they lived in the sewer and had no human contact. Anyway, they learned it, and the turtles immediately began speaking in 1980s slang, despite it being 1975, 1976 at the latest. That's how highly evolved they were.

Now, in the present day, they are pizza-loving teen-agers, named by Splinter after various Italian artists: Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo. The happy fivesome has a cozy subterranean dwelling in the sewers of Manhattan, and probably pay more rent on it than you would for a studio apartment in SoHo. Splinter has trained the teen-age mutant turtles in the art of ninja warfare, but has also insisted they stay out of sight, except that Raphael is allowed to put on a hat and trenchcoat and walk the streets, so frankly I'm not sure Splinter really knows WHAT he wants. Parenthood was kind of thrust upon him, and I suspect four active teen-age boys are more than an elderly Japanese rodent can fairly be expected to handle.

On the streets above them, Manhattan is embroiled in a crime wave perpetrated by hooligans so well-trained that no one ever even sees them, much less catches them in the act. After hearing this information delivered by a TV reporter named April, we promptly see April stumble right into the middle of a heist, thus both seeing them and catching them in the act, which is either an extraordinary coincidence or a bad plot device. She is rescued from the criminals by the TMNTs, all of whom are smitten with her beauty. (This is where it's apparent the boys have spent too much time away from society, as April is average-looking at best. Also, let us not contemplate the sorts of lustful images that must run through the mind of a hormonal teen-age turtle.)

April befriends them, as does a weird hockey-playing renegade named Casey Jones. I'm not sure how he fits into the equation, exactly; one minute he's fighting with Raphael, the next minute he's friends with everybody. I figure the screenwriters wanted him to be in the movie, couldn't figure out how to get him there, so they just threw him in randomly and hoped we wouldn't notice.

The thieves, it turns out, are part of a highly efficient organization called The Foot, run by a Darth Vader-ish fellow named The Shredder. He also commands an army of stealthy ninjas, which is good, because it means the TMNTs will have a lot of people to fight. Fight scenes in movies like this are like sex scenes in porno movies: You can tell the dialogue exists solely to lead up to them, and they're the only conceivable reason you'd ever watch the thing. In fact, one line in this movie -- "Looks like you're the one who needs to be taught a lesson" -- sounds like it could lead to either a fight OR a sexual encounter. (In this case, considering it is delivered by Casey Jones to Raphael, I am glad it turned into a fight.)

The turtles had not particularly considered themselves a crime-fighting task force, but then Splinter gets rat-napped by Shredder, so what can you do?

The movie has some memorable dialogue, but not the way the movie intended it. One of Shredder's ninjas approaches April at one point and says, "I de-river a message to you," which is so ethnically inconsiderate that it amuses me greatly. Another time, one of Shredder's lackeys says, "Why do the turtles trouble you, Master?," which has that rare quality of being as nonsensical out of context as it is in.

The dialogue the movie thinks is good is actually bad. For example, this exchange between one of the turtles (they all look and sound alike) and Casey:

TURTLE: You're a claustrophobic.
CASEY: Hey, I've never even LOOKED at another guy.

Men were paid money to write these words, and other men were paid money to speak them.

Throughout the film, the title characters look like men in turtle costumes. Even after suspending my disbelief, I can't get past the fact that they look nothing like actual turtles. Maybe if their shells didn't bend every time someone touched them, or if they ever retracted their heads or arms into their bodies. Maybe if they died after two weeks and Splinter flushed them down a toilet.

In terms of action movies aimed at young, developmentally disabled children, this one is harmless and unmemorable. But let us all be grateful the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze died out as quickly as it did, and that more than a decade has passed since then. We as Americans can be forgiven for that brief indiscretion, considering how long we've been clean now.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/07/02 14:46:38
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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

4/09/14 Heidi Embrey Love this movie 5 stars
3/16/12 Sean This was the best of the original TMNT movie series. TMNT 2 & TMNT 4(2007) are good as well 5 stars
11/29/09 Honey I've gotta agree with the general consensus. EridDSnider, you're as bad as David Denby. 4 stars
7/22/08 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
11/24/06 Dark Enchantress & Jason great movie! Those turtles are hot! 5 stars
11/01/06 Ackles This movie and the 2003 series stay true to the comics. 87 toon and sequels sucked! 5 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer A true testament to the original comics. Serious kick ass action!!! 5 stars
3/20/06 Klondo you're a snob, EricDSnider, and you aren't funny. 4 stars
2/26/06 Dan Stands the test of time surprisingly well. I liked it as much now as I did as a kid in 1990 5 stars
12/03/05 cr a great cartoon becomes a action packed adventure, cool lines and nice turtle action! 4 stars
9/09/05 tony The best way to start a phenomenon. Filled with stunts and action 5 stars
8/25/05 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
8/28/04 Brad Best action movie ever 5 stars
8/26/04 American Slasher Goddess Like alot of people, I liked it better as a kid, but it's still not bad 3 stars
5/19/04 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
3/11/04 Mark This movie (despite what critics say!) is a classic and among my top 5 favourite movies 5 stars
1/08/04 betty ann dehart= TMNT is the greatest, best there ever was,the actors in TMNT are the greatest 5 stars
12/09/03 Samuel Even as I get older its still a great movie!!] 5 stars
11/19/03 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
7/29/03 Nicole loves Bret Hart! I did not like Raphael's temper tantrum! 4 stars
6/09/03 The Talking Elbow Instant cult classic 5 stars
6/02/03 Kid-P i watch this movie at least 5 times a week 5 stars
5/17/03 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
12/30/02 Turtle Chick! By far the BEST, I MEAN BEST movie ever made! Totally awesome, dudes! 5 stars
12/16/02 Stefano Cricket? Nobody understands cricket... 5 stars
9/16/02 Nickokapo Best...Film...EVER ;) well maybe not, but at least it's my favorite movie. 5 stars
6/11/02 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
5/31/02 RAPH_fan this movie was pretty good, i hope the cg one will be even better 5 stars
5/13/02 Lord Fury TOTALLY AWESOME DUDES!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/12/02 Kevin You really have to see how bad the second one is to appreciate how good the first is. 4 stars
3/08/02 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
8/17/01 The turtles The best film i seen that year but its better than pokemon (crap) 5 stars
7/28/01 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
6/05/01 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
2/13/01 the Grinch Like a tab of bad acid... 1 stars
12/27/00 fifu this is a great movie i own it on DVD 4 stars
10/09/00 Samantha Dark, yet entertaining comody. It's hard to find, but worth the effert. 5 stars
9/22/00 Turtle Pull up a seat, get a pizza (hold the anchovies), and watch this movie! 5 stars
7/18/00 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
3/10/00 David Rogers I loved the Turtles. Still do, but their big screen debut was not what I expected. 3 stars
2/12/00 steve layne Boy how I loved this as a kid. I still like it today, but im not really proud of it. 4 stars
9/11/99 Jason Kinsey turtles designed as the four horsemen of the apocalypse 1 stars
4/30/99 Sentaia E Poor Raphael *sniffle* 5 stars
2/04/99 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
9/25/98 ShadowStar COWABUNGA!!!! 5 stars
9/07/98 BBReBozo Sets a new standard in teenage mutant ninja turtle storytelling! 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  30-Mar-1990 (PG)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast