Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)

I “Ummed” and “Ahh’d” about doing this one for months. Im really not kidding. This review was originally going to be in my second season but I put it off when I realised the kind of scale I was dealing with in terms of just how broad the “Turtles” fandom actually is. there are comic books, many many cartoon series that are both directly and indirectly linked, TV specials, live action TV series, music videos, reams and reams of merchendise and even obscure stuff like the Ninja turtles anime series.

Because researching for this film basically led me down a massive rabbit hole I decided to put it off till my third season, and with the help of a very dear friend of mine (Who’s also a massive Ninja turtles fan) I slowly but surely pieced together the backstory for how this movie came to be.

As a kid I was into the Ninja turtles, while I did watch the later UK broadcasts on CBBC in the 90’s my strongest memory of watching the turtles came in the form of the VHS series:

(This one specifically)

I watched this tape quite literally to death, while I never quite wore the reels down to nothing I watched it enough that the picture deteriorated to a blurry mess that my machine eventually ate. I loved the animated kids series from this time, from the unbelieveably ultra cool intro sequence (With the “Hero” in tact becase the BBFC were terrified even the mention of the word “Ninja” in a kids show would turn us all into corrupted Rambo-esq murderers) to there affinity with pizza (An affinity I completely understand) through to the surreal and wonderful images of the technodrome and Kang. There was just something so tonally unusual about the series that kept me always coming back for more.

The confession I have here is that I never actually saw the live action movies at the time. I watched the original cartoon series, “The Next mutation” and the 2000’s cartoon series (I have very faded memories of pawing through one of the comic books as well at some point) but until this review I’d never seen the live action movie series. here’s a mild spoiler though for this year; literally yesterday I started editing together my review for TMNT 2: Secret of the Ooze and I was quite stunned by just how tonally different these two films are, and just how much darker the first film is when compared to its sequels.

The first ninja turtles movie is  amazingly bleak by comparison to the rest of the turtles franchise…and while it isnt quite as dark as the comic books, I’d feel quite confident in saying it’s probably the darkest iteration of the turtles that I’ve seen to date. I dont think I’d have appreciated this movie as a kid, but as an adult I can absolutely appreciate it. it’s a well written, well produced movie in its own right. hell I almost feel bad calling it a kids film.


(Ending aside I really did enjoy this one. now Im craving pizza…)

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