Years ago, when I first heard that there was a live action movie of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I looked so forward to seeing it when it premiered in theaters. The story line wasn’t like the 80s cartoon series, but it does show a realistic factor about crime in the Big Apple. One major difference I’ve noticed was Raphael’s personality. On the 80s cartoon, he was witty and funny. On this movie, Raph is angry, rebellious, and short-tempered. He even swears, but nothing major. He just says “damn” a few times, but it’s still not something you’d expect from these guys.
This film also reveals the first time the turtles call themselves brothers and Splinter their father, not to mention the turtles’ shorter names; Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Don.
There’s also a good share of humor. Like when Splinter gives a lecture while Mikey orders a pizza as if he wasn’t paying attention. Then it’s time to meditate and the turtles decide to dance to the song Tequila. Of course, Splinter doesn’t approve of that. “Well, this is like meditating.”
The first humans the turtles meet are April O’Neil (Judith Hoag) the news lady and Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) the vigilante with sports gear. It’s hilarious how the turtles react when April mentions pizza. “You said the magic word.” Then it becomes exciting when the Foot Clan attacks and destroys April’s place as the turtles fight for their lives.
The Shredder (James Saito) is also different in this movie from the 80s series. He has no technodrome, no Krang, and no henchmutants. Just Foot Soldiers who are human and martial arts master Tatsu (Toshishiro Obata) as his right hand man. He is one tough dude. Was that Sam Rockwell among the thugs?
While April, Casey, and the turtles recuperate while hiding out in the country, they try to figure out what happened to Splinter after he was captured. Leo tries meditation and convinces the others to join in. That’s unlike the turtles, but Splinter couldn’t be more proud of them.
It soon all comes down to the turtles in the final showdown against the Shredder. The battle is fierce and exciting, but is it really the end?
As I look back on this film, it’s more along the lines of the 2003 series. As much as I enjoyed the 80s version, at the time this movie was more difficult to follow. But I’ll tell ya, this is still a classic with action, humor, and cool catchphrases like “Awesome”, “Excellent”, “Gnarly”, and of course “Cowabunga”.