There is only a handful of movies that can stand the test of time. These movies are the kind of movies that no matter what happens to the brand, they are immortalized as “classics”.
I grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s and a large portion of my childhood was dedicated to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or TMNT if you don’t know. Initially, just a self-published comic book, they really came into their own when they became part of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup. At this precise moment in time, their popularity exploded and they could be found everywhere. The world became a single shade of green with a hint of red, purple, orange, or blue. The world even learned to accept and use the word, “cowabunga”. In 1990 something magical happened and they became more than a cartoon. In 1990, they became a live action movie.
The movie showcased all the usual suspects:
- April O’Neal
- Casey Jones
And they all quickly garnered a massive following.
It’s movie time…
Just like every other movie, TMNT is set in New York City. The Foot Clan (a bunch of troubled teens) are running amuck trying to find their place in the world while serving what they believed to be a higher purpose…their master, The Shredder.
The movie opens with April O’Neal, a reporter for a news channel, just finishing her shift at work when she sees the Foot Clan stealing from a van. As the Foot Clain attempt to subdue her, a mysterious warrior comes to her aid, not ever exposing who he is. Like a fool, he inadvertently leaves his weapon behind for April to pocket. As a result of her assault, she begins to run stories to expose the Foot Clan.
The audience learns that the mysterious warrior is, in fact, one of the TMNT, Raphael. Seeing that she could be in further trouble, he decides to follow her and she’s lucky he did. The Foot approach and attack her again resulting in Raphael once again subduing them.
Raphael then brings April back to their lair and she befriends the Turtles as their sensei, Splinter explains their origin. With the origin wrapped up, the Turtles escort April home. After dropping her off, the return to their home only to find that it has been ransacked and Splinter has been taken. With nowhere to turn, they make their way back to April’s to devise a strategy to find their sensei.
Looking to let off some steam, Raphael makes his way to the rooftops and encounters a little more than he was looking for. Like a pack of wolves, the Foot Clan begin to surround him and after a few minutes, the subdue him and make their way inside to dispose of the other turtles. A battle ensues, the building is burnt down, and the turtles flee to the countryside.
During a brief bit of meditation, Leonardo realizes that they must return to the city, rescue their master, and defeat the Foot Clan and The Shredder. He gathers the others, announces the intentions and the four begin to train.
After a few jokes and some food, they head back and square off against their enemy. As the battle rages on, they easily defeat the Foot Clan but fall victim to The Shredder’s superior ninja skills. It is when all seems lost that their savior appears. Splinter (who moves as fast as a sloth) makes his way to the Turtles and does what they couldn’t…defeat The Shredder.
I’d be willing to bet that you thought they turtles weren’t going to win.
Look, at the end of the day, Turtle-mania took the world by storm in the late 80’s and early 90’s. While its popularity has slowed down a little bit over the years, it remains a cash cow for its creators, Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.
Personally, I am happy it is still around. As each generation passes, they get to see what made me so happy as a child. TMNT is one of most influential comics in history and has deserved all the recognition it has gotten.
Cowabunga Dudes and Dudettes,