Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
February 11, 2022 6:59 PM - Subscribe

A quartet of humanoid turtles, trained by their mentor in ninjitsu, must learn to work together to face the menace of Shredder and the Foot Clan.

Currently available on Netflix (US).
posted by curious nu (7 comments total)
 
I was 11 or 12 and this was the first movie that I went to see without an adult, just me and my best bud Sadiq.

It was awesome!

The live action turtle suits blew my prepubescent mind. It was as good or better than anything I'd seen. Splinter (animatronic/ whatever, especially the flashbacks) felt like a letdown compared to other movies like 'Labyrinth' or 'Legend' or 'The Dark Crystal.'

Somehow, the "Regular or menthol?" made smoking feel incredibly uncool. (A couple/ three years later, I became a lifelong smoker.) The clubhouse with the indoor skateboarding ramps felt lame.

Maybe Sam Rockwell's role in this did something subconscious to me; he was all the rage for a while but I instantly had something against him whenever he showed up in a movie, even if I didn't recognize him.

Casey felt like a loser. I fell in crush with April all over again, but not nearly as hard as the cartoon version.

I felt really sad when one of the Turtles separated/ fell out (?) of the group.

Even then, Splinter and Shredder were... problematic, as was the American Ninja stuff. And I'm a HKer who moved to Canada to start elementary school, not Japanese.

Thanks curious nu for the trip down memory lane. Might have caught it or parts of it on cable over the years, don't think I've sat down and deliberately watched it from beginning to end since. Gonna have to remedy that this weekend.
posted by porpoise at 7:36 PM on February 11


This movie is better than 90% of Marvel movies.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:41 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


TMNT holds up better than you'd guess, and IMO a lot of it is the action- hiring Golden Harvest, who all but invented martial arts movies, to make the film was genius. Compare to the extremely lackluster action in Mortal Kombat a few years later.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:52 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Even then, Splinter and Shredder were... problematic, as was the American Ninja stuff. And I'm a HKer who moved to Canada to start elementary school, not Japanese.

Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were riffing directly off of the work of Frank Miller; Splinter was a referral to Stick, Matt "Daredevil" Murdock's sensei. Although Miller has gotten increasingly more conservative and unpleasant over the years, and much of his work does seem problematic in retrospect (Elektra, particularly), back in the late seventies he was like a breath of fresh air--he took a character (Daredevil) that was generally like a second-string Spider-Man and refocused him on fighting organized crime and martial-arts villains, and although now much of his manga influence seems more like cultural appropriation, it was also bringing non-Euro-American influences into Marvel Comics. (And at least Miller was completely upfront about what he took from manga; he was instrumental in getting Lone Wolf and Cub translated and reprinted in America by the now-defunct First Comics, doing covers for the American editions; I'd say that the first time that a number of American readers, myself included, ever saw manga was from those LWaC reprints.) About 90-95% of TMNT was Eastman and Laird riffing off of Miller's original Daredevil run. (The "Teenage Mutants" part is an obvious reference to the X-Men spinoff New Mutants, but aside from the title, TMNT has nothing to do with it.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:37 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


The "Teenage Mutants" part is an obvious reference to the X-Men spinoff New Mutants

As someone who bought TMNT #1 off the comic spinner, I'd suggest "Teenage" was more a reference to the Teen Titans (the Wolfman and Perez version) and "Mutants" cited the X-Men proper. To complete the analysis, "Ninja" was, as you noted, derived from Miller's run on Daredevil. And the "Turtles" came from Cerebus, which at the time was one of the most popular black-and-white comics that featured an anthropomorphic animal.

Seriously, my first thought when I saw the comic book was, wow, Eastman and Laird are following all the current trends, aren't they?
posted by SPrintF at 9:15 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I think I had this entire movie memorized that year. I thought it was incredible. It was such a different experience than today: I remember I had no clue this movie was coming until I spotted the little black and white poster in the paper. I think it was also the first movie I ever tried to go to opening weekend only to have to go home because it sold out. I also had the OST on cassette—the first cassette album I ever owned. I think the tape itself came in four colours, one for each of the turtles' masks, and I was disappointed because I got blue instead of purple for Donatello.
posted by synecdoche at 10:55 AM on February 13


Casey Jones is a Problem. Misogyny, lack of consent, homophobia, probably a little casual racism as well. :/ As 80s movies go it's relatively minor, but it still really stands out.

We didn't own a lot of VHS tapes, but this was one of them, and we watched it a ton. I remember seeing it in the theater, and we definitely had a lot of the toys. I still remember most of the quips; a lot of the dialogue is pretty great. I appreciate Donny and Mikey's relationship much more now, and Splinter trying to console Raphael about how to deal with his anger is legit touching. Michaelangelo's tears at the campfire.

Also, now being in civil engineering, the idea that anyone would be able to casually open up a maintenance hole lid is pretty amusing.
posted by curious nu at 5:49 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


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