CLASSIC REVIEW: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990)

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990)
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990)

Kowabunga dude! We flash back to 1990 with a review of the movie that brought the NInja to the UK.

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990)
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990)

Directed by Steve Barron

Written by Bobby Herbeck (story) & Todd W. Langen

Pre-order it on Blu-Ray now @ Amazon.co.uk

Beware of spoilers!I thought it was about time that I reviewed something which wasn’t DC Comics and didn’t involve Batman… having recently viewed a copy of this film in it’s 1080p transfer it was naturally high on my list to review.

Back in 1990 I was turning 5 years-old and like most other 5 year-olds I was obsessed with the Turtles only in the UK you had to call them Teenage Mutant HERO Turtles… TMHT doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!

I had all the toys, the clothes, a turtle camera and there was an abundance of ooze especially with my catapault garbage thrower. My favourite was Donatello and I was confused why the toys had them all shaded different colours of green when that was note the case in the cartoon.

It wasn’t until a decade later that I finally picked up a proper adult TMNT comic and began to understand the wider universe that these characters inhabited.

What I can’t remember is if I saw this film at the cinema. I do remember seeing the second but wonder if perhaps I was deemed too young for the first despite its PG classification.

The sheer fact that they could invent live-action turtles that I could see on screen what mind boggling and I’m sure I will have had a nightmare or two about the fact that Shredder could also be on screen.

On a side note: why did nobody attempt to recreate Krang in live action? A puppet brain would have been amazing!

I digress… on to the film. We all know by know that TMNT 1990 retells the origins of the turtles and their sensei Splinter and pits them against arch nemesis Shredder in their first battle which brings them out into the open of the human world. Not to forget the shady ‘Foot Clan’ are also involved in all the furore.

Back in 1990 this film was budgeted at a hefty $13.5million by New Line Cinema only to pull in an estimated $200million at the box office and was a massive hit with fans and less of a hit with critics due to the violence portrayed.

In the UK we had to wait until 2004 for an officially sanction ‘unedited’ version of the film with all previous releases omitting the word ninja as and where possible and also dispensing with any shots of Michelangelo with his nunchaku.

Finally seeing this film in glorious 1080p is pretty awesome. I remember the film being a little more colourful than it appears here but as this is just a transfer for and not a restoration I had expected the film to look a little ‘lived in’ by this point in its life.

What I hadn’t expected was the level of detail hiding in the VHS and DVD transfers. Anybody who is approaching this film expecting a flat upscaling is going to get a pleasant surprise. The level of costume detail is nigh on unbelievable. The turtle puppets look impressive still to this day, the biggest let down still being their mouths. I found myself often pausing the film to take in the details around their features.

Forgetting the puppets for a moment we can’t forget about Shredder, his costume also reveals a massive amount of detail that has not previously been noticed and I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements made for ‘TMNT 2: Secrets of the Ooze’ which had a higher production budget.

A box set of all three TMNT movies is available to import now form the US but stand alone releases and a budget box set come to the UK on Blu-Ray in October of this year.

If you want to evoke some fond childhood memories or, like me, you are still as obsessed with the turtles as you were at 5 years old this new transfer is well worth checking out as it breathes a new life in to an old favourite.

8/10

About Neil Vagg 848 Articles

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember.

Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men

Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice

Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG