Teenage Mutant Freaking Ninja Turtles! God I love this franchise. The story of four brothers who live in the sewers of New York City, eat and adore pizza, train in the ninjitsu arts, and are named after the Renaissance Artists. These four brothers just so happen to be normal pet turtles who were mutated thanks to a strange mutagen which comes from many different origins depending on which version of the characters you watch. Their master named Splinter used to be a ninja warrior named Hamato Yoshi, he raised Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo to become New York's greatest defenders from evil forces such as the Purple Dragon Clans or their main nemeses The Foot Clan led by Oroku Saki AKA The Shredder.
Just that summary of their story awakens the kid inside me and gets me to smile. Yes as you can tell, I love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's a franchise that people of all ages should enjoy. I'm eighteen years old right now and I watch the new Nickelodeon series but we'll talk about that later. Each of the shows (except a certain one that I'll talk about later) show a pattern: they are about family. Yes there is plenty of action to go around but the important thing is the relationship between the turtles themselves. When they interact with each other, it feels like you really are watching brothers goof around with each other or grow closer together after they are split.
I have not had the chance to see the new film in theaters yet. I will be going with a fellow fan to see it so that we both can do a review. But until then I will be doing a retrospective on ALL things related to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles staring with...
The Original Comic From 1984!
This means that this franchise is thirty years old. This was the origins of the beloved characters. Now I haven't read the entire series nor have I read a lot of it. I'm pretty sure I've read only one comic so I can't give a full review of this series. All I'll say is...it was okay. I know you probably expect me to love this comic but I'm sorry, I prefer the funny, bright, and colorful versions of the characters. In this, the turtles all feel like the same person, I really don't like black and white artwork in comics (Sin City, Walking dead, etc.), plus the turtles themselves are not really likable in any way. Go ahead and hate me for this but it's just not my Ninja Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from 1987
They're heroes in a half-shell and they're green! Three years after the original comic came out, children heard of this show coming and they cheered with glee while parents heard the name and facepalmed. Who would have thought something called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be you know...actually really good. Now this is not the series I grew up with, but I do love it. Here the dark noir style story was changed for an awesome, fun, colorful ride for families to enjoy. To give you the best slice of the show, I suggest you watch the first story arc of the series; that way you get a good introduction to the turtles, we get to know all the villains including the Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady, as well as some side characters like Splinter and April O'Neal. I do enjoy the series a ton, the chemistry between the brothers is a lot of fun, the action is still pretty fun to watch, and the Shredder is hilarious. Rest in Peace James Avery, you were an awesome Shredder.
Is it a good show? Yes. Is it perfect? Not really. There are the lack luster episodes which are in every TV series ever made, but there are times where the animation is....yeah it's pretty bad. Sometimes the turtles' ninja masks will change colors for some reason, or Mikey's voice will be coming out of Leo. Again I do like the series but not my favorite. Although there is one scene that is just like "I was frozen today!" and "That's a duck, that's a duck man!" where Donnie says this at random after defeating a robot:
Why does he say? I have no idea.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990 Movie)
Not going to deny, I don't think this movie has aged all that well. Don't get me wrong I do enjoy them, after all I grew up with them but certain things are just off with this one. People say that the new CGI turtles look scary, I don't know the soulless eyes of the original movie turtles kinda creep me out.
Yeesh. Luckily the voice actors do a pretty good job and they keep the creepiness factor down a bit. People complain about the new turtles being played by nobodies except for Johnny Knoxville as Leo which doesn't make much since in this movie they are played by a bunch of nobodies except for Corey Feldman as Donnie, who is by far the funniest guy in both this movie and the sequel. Other than the turtles expressionless faces, the suits actually did pull of some cool moves. At the time CGI kind of sucked when it was used so they couldn't do what they are doing today so the limitations of their suits don't bother me as much.
April O'Neal is in this movie and she's about as memorable as Hayden Christensen's career. Not only that, she just doesn't look like April.
Sorry lady, you're going to need a lot more than a...yellow raincoat that you wear only once if you want to convince me that you're April. At least a yellow leather jacket resembles April more than you do...as much as I don't want to give Megan Fox credit.
Casey Jones is in the movie played by Elias Koteas and he is one of the best things about the movie. The scene with him and Raphael in the park is so freaking funny and enjoyable that it's impossible not to enjoy it. "Cricket!? Nobody understands cricket! You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket." God that scene makes me smile.
The Shredder in this movie is basically a Darth Vader wannabe but I enjoy him nonetheless. His fight with the turtles is awesome and I love how it's Splinter that has to take down Shredder.
The fights are enjoyable, some of the jokes fall flat, the turtles are represented well, and the theme for this movie is awesome. T-U-R-T-L-E Power!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
This is NOT a good movie. Trust me it is far from it...but it is a guilty pleasure of mine. Many of the jokes are very dumb, there is a lot of slapstick humor this time (although the slapstick works a lot better in places like a scene with Donnie in the beginning where he's pretending to be a balloon. Not going to deny that scene is funny.), the villains are forgettable, yeah Shredder is back and he's cool but there is...*Sigh*...Tokka and Rahzar.
Good god I hate Tokka and Rahzar. Was there a copyrights issue with Bebop and Rocksteady? If there was fine but....LOOK AT THESE THINGS! I've seen better monster suits on an episode of Power Rangers. To be fair, I like the idea of Tokka, an evil snapping turtle. Clever concept for a rival but badly executed. The rest of the movie is just a type of funny bad that you get from movies like the Room and Batman & Robin although this movie is better made than those. Casey Jones is gone which disappoints me, the action in scenes is sometimes better than the first so I'll give it that. Finally we have to discuss the most infamous part of the fim that everybody mentions simply known as...Ninja Rap.
Good god, I freaking love Ninja Rap. It's so cheesy but in a good way, if that makes sense. It's as if the movie knew what it was now so it just decided to give up being serious. When you finish this movie you will be singing "Go Ninja, Go Ninja Go!" You know how much my brother and I dig this song? It was the groomsmen dance at his wedding reception. Yeah...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ....Okay....I think I'm good. *Looks to Poster.* NOPE! I hate this movie! Onto the next one! It can't be worse than this!
Ninja Turles: The Next Mutation (1997)
Excuse me while I change my shorts...OH MY GOD that is atrocious! At least the third movie had turtles that were...presentable. This series has turtles that look like five kids dressed up like the turtles. Oh and we get a female turtle with boobs named Venus. MOVING ON!
Well after all that you would expect there to be no hope for the heroes in a half-shell to be good again. However something happened...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
Oh...SHELL YES! We finally get to MY Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is where he turtles became AWESOME to me. Beautiful animation, great stories, amazing chemistry between all characters, and awesome action. By far my favorite versions of April and Casey Jones appear in this show. Many twists happen in this show that you wouldn't expect, there are tons of villains to enjoy, and the turtles are also best represented here. Give it a watch if you haven't yet, you won't regret it. Turtles! Mutant Chain Reaction. Turtles! Living Underground. Turtles! Ninjitsu Action! Turtles! IT'S A SHELL OF A TOWN!!!!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Foward (2006)
It's also known as just Season 6 of the 2003 series but I consider it it's own series since it has it's own title and theme song. Turtle Fans are usually split on this series, either they really like it or they really hate it. I think I'm on the loving side. Maybe this is because I'm a sucker for time travel and cyberpunk worlds so I just got hooked in. I loved all the new villains they had to deal with, they were more enhanced than the villains of their present so they had to deal with them differently, I did like the great grandson of April and Casey named Cody Jones although not as much as Casey and April. Basically I have the same thoughts about Fast Forward as I do the 2003 series.
This is a movie that had mixed reactions from audiences. Basically, if you didn't know the Turtle lore then you are going to be confused as shell when you watch this movie. That is sort of a flaw with the writing but if you do know turtle lore, this movie is awesome. I know some people don't like the whole epic tone to the movie with the immortals and monsters plot but I enjoyed it because it resembled stuff out of the 2003 series. The voice acting was great, there was a lot more drama with the turtles because here we see them more as like college aged and so they are splitting apart and are not acting as a team anymore so we get to seem grow as a family once again. The fight between Leo and Raph is one of my all time favorite turtles scenes ever in the franchise. My only gripe is that Donnie was criminally underused. He's my favorite turtle and he was just sort of there with nothing to do half the time and him being a phone tech support was just dumb. Chris Evans does a really good job voicing Casey Jones and Sarah Michelle Gellar while not in the film often does a fine job as April. If you've never seen the film and you know nothing about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then I suggest you stay away from it but if you are a fan of the franchise then give it a watch.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Back to the Sewer (2008)
Like with any great show, there is always a decline. Married With Children died after Season 4-5, Star Trek the Next Generation's later seasons were boring, and then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 8 AKA Back to the Sewer was when the show just withered then died. It's not retched like say Next Mutation or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, it was just...boring. The storylines were predictable, they repeated old jokes, their robot companion was really annoying, and they decided to give the turtles normal eyes and...they don't look right with the animation style. Well, five years was a good run for the 2003 series. I look back on it fondly and I will until I die.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)
As soon as I saw the first teaser for this series, I groaned. The animation didn't look right, the designs looked awful, April being a teenager really angered me...but then I watched the series and I gotta say. This show is great! The animation really works, the characters are done well (except Leo, he's dry and sometimes annoying), April is really cool, the villains are great, there are a TON of nods to older Turtles stuff so us fans can grin at that. So far I love the show, some of the twists they did are amazing, the voice acting is awesome, and I'm looking forward to Season 3. The show also has by far the best theme out of all the shows.
Turtles Forever (2009)
By far the ultimate fan pleaser of the Turtles franchise. You have the 2003 Turtles teaming up with the 1987 turtles who travel to another universe to meet the turtles from the comics. HOW CAN FANS NOT LOVE THIS?!? Just like TMNT, unless you are a fan you won't like the movie. It is funny, awesome, and just an overall amazing film.
Normally I wouldn't include stuff like this because they are fan films but this time I have to make an exception for...
Just to warn you, this is not a kids movie. This is a bloody, violent, really dark movie. It shows an origin story for Casey Jones and good god is this movie awesome. If they ever put Casey Jones in the new films, I want Hilarion Banks to play as him again. This is why I love fan films that are done right. There are a lot of bad fan films out there but this is one of the best. You can find the film on youtube, watch it and you will love it.
So that's my retrospective of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. I love the series and I hope it lasts another thirty years. I am really looking forward to the new film, I know it's cool right now to hate the movie but honestly I am hyped. What are your thoughts on this franchise? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Who is your favorite Turtle? Mine will always be Donatello!