Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time 1993
It’s Thursday night, and we’re halfway through our stack of movies from the rental store. All that’s left is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Jena was ready to watch this one and enjoyed it a lot. I fell asleep during the last 20 minutes of it and had to rewatch it a few days later. This movie was tough to really figure out what they were trying for, it seemed like it was pulling itself in too many directions. It felt like it was trying to be more dramatic, and yet it also seemed a lot more childish and cartoonish in its humor. The nostalgia definitely wore off on me by this point, as I found the jokes to be less funny, and a lot of the action to be less interesting. But there were still a few spots of fun to be had here.
Once again, the timeline of this movie falls only shortly after the end of the second movie. Shredder’s gone for good, they’re still in the abandoned subway station, April’s the same only with shorter hair, and she’s got a weird Japanese staff that ends up sending them back in time to use their Ninja skills against actual Samurai. The first thing I noticed is that the turtle designs look a lot more cartoonish, with larger eyes, giant teeth, and less articulation. When looking the movie up, I found out that is because they didn’t actually use Jim Henson’s creature shop this time around, and it shows. Whatever company they used instead of Henson does an ok job, but they don’t have nearly the life that only the Jim Henson company can bring.
Another thing I noticed early on is that there was a great little bit of the Turtles showing off their weapon skills, including one of the rare instances that Leonardo actually gets to swing around his katanas. Unfortunately, it’s also followed up with a scene back in ancient Japan where a couple samurai on horseback lazily clang their swords together in what is supposed to be a sword fight. You might think that being back in ancient Japan would be a great excuse to really ramp up the fight scenes and let them go all out with their weapons instead of holding back like they had to in the present when fighting teenagers in Ninja suits. But instead, they pretty much use the same slapstick style of fighting, when they even did any fighting at all. Many times they would explain away the need for the fight, especially at the end when the Turtles were surrounded, outgunned, and instead of getting into a fight, they convince the main villain to miss them with a cannon. And then he runs away. Really. The Turtles are still surrounded, nothing has changed the situation, and yet he runs away for no discernible reason at all.
Which is a shame because throughout most of the rest of the movie, I thought the villain was actually fairly interesting. He was an Englishman named Walker who was mostly just interested in selling English guns to the samurai so he can make some money. Sometimes a simple motivation is all it takes. But then it takes some odd turns that I didn’t entirely follow. Casey Jones also makes a return appearance in dual roles for this movie. He is in the present with Splinter and the throwbacks from Japan that got tossed forward in time. And he also plays an English spy in the past who falls for April, although not quite in the same way that Casey Jones did in the first movie. Honestly, he was probably the best part of the movie, selling the dramatic parts of the story better than anyone else.
Like I mentioned before, it seemed like the filmmakers tried to shoehorn a lot of unnecessary drama into this movie alongside the typical slapstick and jokes. There’s a village being set on fire and one of the Turtles has to rescue a young boy from one of the huts. He’s not breathing because of smoke inhalation and Leonardo brings him back with CPR, earning the trust of the village. One of the more annoying things to me is that they used hardly any Japanese even though they were in ancient Japan. There is the fact that the English have been there, so it’s not unheard of that some of them would speak English, but there’s practically no Japanese at all. Instead, some of the characters that do speak English, speak it like they are practically idiots. I don’t know, there was just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way. I know that going full on subtitled would not be the right way to go for a kids movie like this, but I would have liked to maybe see some middle ground there.
One other character I was a little surprised by in this movie was April O’Neal. The same actress from the Secret of the Ooze came back for this movie, but she cut her hair short. She also seemed to have a change in attitude because between those two things, I thought she brought a much better April to this movie than she did the previous one. Between the three movies, I’d even give her a slight edge over the April in the original movie. She has the right amount of attitude and was given a chance to really show what she could do in this movie. Too bad the rest of the movie didn’t end up doing anything interesting to make her performance actually mean anything. I wasn’t expecting much out of this movie, and it didn’t disappoint. Coming up soon are reviews for the original Adam West Batman: The Movie, which I’ve already watched with Jena, and Sam Raimi’s Darkman, although I’m not sure which order I will post them in. Also coming up on Saturday will be the first in a new series of reviews of short films found on YouTube as well as interviews with the film’s creators. It’s called “Superhero Shorts”, until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.