Movies: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)


3 out 5 stars

Rating: PG

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Cast: Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, Brian Tochi, Robbie Rist, Corey Feldman, Josh Pais, James Saito, and Kevin Clash

Director: Steve Barron

Run Time: 93 minutes

This is the 30th anniversary of this beloved classic!

In spring of 1990 New Line Cinemas took a huge chance on Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s comic book property Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it paid off for the studio, becoming the highest-grossing independent movie until The Blair Witch Project in 1999.

Judith Hoag stars as TV reporter April O’Neil, who is following a story about an underground group of thieves known as the foot clan. While investigating, she runs into four mutated turtles — Raphael, Leonard, Michelangelo, Donatello — and a rat named Splinter. Together with the help of some other allies, they go to war with the mysterious foot clan and its leader The Shredder.

The first thing that stands out about this film is the amazing puppeteers. In a time when CGI was not used as much, the Jim Henson creature shop brought the four turtles and splinter to life, using fiberglass, clay, and rubber latex.

The voice acting is also very superb. Kevin Clash, the man behind the voice of Elmo, voices Splinter in the film. Splinter comes off as old wise leader, and you get that feeling from Clash’s voice as it comes through the puppet.

James Saito plays the evil villain Shredder. His performance is amazing — every time he is in the scene you can feel his anger towards the outside world. The fight scenes in this film are very entertaining and well-choreographed.

This film is a great piece of entertainment, and even though the main villain Shredder is a menacing well-acted terror, the rest of the villains are one dimensional and fall short. Judith Hoag’s performance as April is not believable at all. Nowhere in this film do I ever believe her character is in danger.

The character of Casey Jones, played by Elias Koteas, comes on the scene and grabs the attention with his wit and charm. Then they downplay his character the rest of the film.

Steve Barron gets all the best acting from the puppets in this film, and the live-action characters fall short.

Overall, this film is dark, gritty and entertaining for both children and adults.

(Dustin Vitale’s hometown is here in Walterboro. He worked in the film business on and off since 2016, working on various projects and has been reviewing films since 2019. Catch Dustin on his YouTube Channel “Movies with Dustin Vitale” every Tuesday and Thursday.)


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