Monday, December 10, 2012

Even Without Temporal Mechanic Nitpicks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time Still Sucks.

The Good: Successfully creates the “reality” of the situations/Most of the acting
The Bad: Preposterous plot, Utter lack of character development, Terrible dialogue, Horrible fight choreography
The Basics: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is one of the worst sequels of all time and a disappointment to anyone but the die-hard fans of the franchise.

A few years back, I bought my wife the Blu-Ray 25th Anniversary Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection. She immediately had us watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (reviewed here!) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze (reviewed here!). I was not quite sure of what to think when she showed absolutely no inclination to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time. Or, at least, I had no idea why she would not be excited to watch that film until now.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is horrible. Sometimes, there is no delicate way to put it and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is just a ridiculously bad movie.

Continuing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film franchise and stalling the career Paige Turco could have had (though her awesome character arc on NYPD Blue did follow this), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time has the four familiar, oversized ninja turtles in a time-travel adventure, filled with their characteristic exuberance, ridiculous one-liners and fight sequences where no one actually connects with anyone.

Starting in 1604 Japan, where a bandit is being pursued by the Imperial warriors, the film jumps to the modern sewers of New York City and the homes of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Master Splinter – four oversized talking turtles and their rat mentor. There, April O’Neil visits as she prepares to go on vacation, delivering gifts for her friends. One item she brings is a scepter, which suddenly causes her to disappear and a feudal Japanese warrior to appear in her place. As April is imprisoned by Lord Norinaga as a witch, the Turtles try to figure out how to go back in time to save her. Reasoning that the scepter requires others in the target time period to be in contact with it in order for the displacement to occur, and with only sixty hours to find April and return home, the Turtles make the swap.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles take the places of four of the royal guard and they find April easily enough. However, they have arrived back in the middle of an uprising and after saving a village and a child there from pirates and a burning building, the Turtles earn the trust of Mitsu, the rebel leader. The Turtles must recover the scepter and help stop the pirates working for Norinaga before returning to their own time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is an unfortunately ridiculous film is essentially a hammy kid’s movie geared for a teenage audience that should be too smart to actually enjoy it. The best that can be reasonably said about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is that the actors fully invest in the premise and the effects. The four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are actors running around in obvious vinyl suits, which admittedly look pretty good in the live-action world, but everyone they encounter treats them as perfectly real and viable. They sell the reality of the situation, even if Splinter looks far less real than the Turtles.

The concept of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is a weak enough one that the film stretches to flesh out even ninety-six minutes. To get up to time, the movie vamps in the middle with scenes with Casey Jones, a banal subplot between April and Whit, and an attempt by the Turtles to make pizza and recreate the scepter in the past. It’s a pretty weak movie when one of the high points is a digression for a character to randomly go fly a kite with a child.

Paige Turco (April O’Neil), Stuart Wilson (Walker, the leader of the pirates), and Elias Koteas (who plays both Casey Jones and Whit) all deserve credit for delivering their lines without ever appearing to let on that they know how preposterous they are. The voice actors behind the Turtles make them expressive enough to seem real as well.

Stuart Gillard’s direction of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time is just terrible, though. Filled with numerous points where the fights are obvious in the way they fail to convey reality and takes that seem to obviously be first takes – like a shot where the Turtles try to give one another a high five, with two of them waiting (connected) for the other two and them failing to connect, so the hands end up out of frame. Even on Blu-Ray, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time appears without bonus features. For a change, that is all right; they wouldn’t help this movie at all.

For other films based upon independent comic books series’, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Men In Black
Cowboys & Aliens


Check out how this film stacks up against others I have reviewed by visiting my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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