The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trilogy - Blu-ray Review

'For those bored by the predictably wafer-thin plot  entertainment can be had in playing spot the star; Sam Rockwell and Elias Koteas in the first film, Michael Jai White hovering in the background of a group of kids in the second.'

There's something odd about the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is getting a reboot. Backed by Michael Bay, the big budget, live-action film, due in 2014, presumably won't feature Jim Henson puppets, nor a spectacular amount of 1990s references; from a Vanilla Ice concert to copious uses of the word 'radical'.

This film series, which spurted out three films in quick succession - 1990, 1991 and 1993 - always felt very much from and of its time, so it is little surprise to find the main value in revisiting the films on newly released Blu-ray is nostalgia. There's real value in that, no matter what the cynics may say, and so, if you're eager to recapture your childhood, stick an extra star on to the end of each film and you'll doubtless be satisfied enough to feel like you've had your money's worth.

Unfortunately, for those not eager to part with their hard-earned solely to recapture some youth, there's fairly little here to recommend, particularly in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze. Though it does boast an opening fight more fun than anything the first film offers, it also has trite human accomplice Ernie Reyes Jr. casually throwing a misogynist slur within the opening moments and then glancing a sneer at April (Paige Turco), as he forces his way into her apartment, that feels as though it merits a spell in a young offenders institute on its own. The introduction of comedy mutants Rahzar and Tokka takes us well into Power Rangers territory, a series thoroughly less charming than this ever was. The break in the film at the finale for a Vanilla Ice music video is nauseating by any framework of capitalist assessment methodology.

Before this, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kicked the series off in surprisingly downbeat fashion, with Splinter spending the majority of the film tied to an iron fence and a smattering of semi-clever references to NY-culture seemingly evidencing that, at times, director Steve Barron forgot this was meant to be a kid's film. There's a noticeable lack of fun in the first film, which the second does, admittedly, try to redress. For those bored by the predictably wafer-thin plot and tame final fight, entertainment can be had in playing spot the star; Sam Rockwell and Elias Koteas in the first film (the latter returns again for the third), Michael Jai White hovering in the background of a group of kids in the second.

Whilst the narrative of the second film relied on bringing Shredder back from his apparent death in film one, you can at least praise Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (occasionally subtitled Turtles In Time) for some story invention, if only of The Inbetweeners Movie variety. Transported to feudal Japan - by way of a red-tinted opening scene that's actually rather gorgeous - our band of green heroes wrestle with their place in life and time in a narrative that actually manages to matter to several of the protagonists. Whilst the puppets may have got worse in this outing, the picture quality of the new HD releases improves; hardly an ideal combination, but one that goes some way to making it the best film of the bunch, a ninety-six minute romp which gets close to receiving the benefit of the doubt. Cowabunga indeed.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trilogy is released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 28th October.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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