miritsu (miritsu) wrote,

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Movie review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Major nostalgia time!

I grew up on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and retain fond memories of them. Today, walking into my local comic book store, what do you think they were watching but the original movie?

It's amazing how well Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles held up over twenty years. The story of four baby turtles mutated in the sewers of New York and raised/trained to be ninja by a similarly mutated adult rat named Splinter, TMNT is quirky, funny, action-packed, and enjoyable from beginning to end. It's not Shakespeare, but the type of movie that succeeds or fails through likable characters and a sense of fun.

For the first, the characters, surprisingly good acting bolstered moments of discussion and humor between action scenes. Raphael, the testosterone-overloaded turtle with an attitude problem is our focus, and to the credit of the movie, his temper isn't portrayed as positive, but instead as a character defect that blocks his becoming the hero he could be. There's an amazing scene early on where Splinter sits Raphael down after his temper has dragged him into a stupid fight and says: I have tried to channel your anger, Raphael, but more remains...Turned inward, it is an unconquerable enemy. You are unique among your brothers, for you choose to face this enemy alone. But as you face it, do not forget them, and do not forget me. I am here, my son. At nine, when I first saw the movie, I cried. As an adult, I still think that's a moment of profound parenting, showing the best that parent can be, and the best kind of love a parent can give: unconditional, but guiding. A bit later, Raphael learns Splinter has been kidnapped, and screams as though his heart has broken, because of course, it has.

For the second requirement, the fun, you can see in pretty much every scene what a blast everyone is having, from action scenes where Raphael fights a guy (Elias Kotas) who wonders why he's shaved his head and put on so much green makeup to humor scenes of orange-bandannad, nunchaku-wielding Michelangelo baiting a pizza guy ("Wise man says forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.")

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not genius. It's not perfect. It's four guys in rubber suits, acting surprisingly well, having lots of fun, and letting viewers come along for the ride. It's not an accident that so many of us were happy to follow.


My review of the 2007 Turtles movie TMNT (Amazingly, it's also positive)

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