Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

“Cowabunga, dudes!”

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arrived in comic book form in 1984. Within a few years, every kid on the planet knew their name. If you were a really loyal fan, you could eat their cereal in your Ninja Turtle pjs while watching their cartoon on television. Then you could play the Ninja-inspired Nintendo game until it was time for a healthy lunch of Chef Boyardee Ninja Turtle pasta. Kids would have to wait until the 90s, however, to finally see their heroes on the big screen.

With the Turtles – Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo – at the height of their popularity, New LIne Cinema released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990. Utilizing the masterful skills of Jim Henson Productions, the live-action offering brought Splinter and his reptilian quartet to life, with the help of some body suits and animatronic wizardry.

Anyone who faithfully followed the television show was familiar with the origins of the Ninja Turtles. For parents and older siblings who weren’t as well-versed in their history (as in, got dragged along), the film brought everyone up to speed on the story line.

Splinter was once the pet rat of a martial arts master, but exposure to a radioactive mutagen turned him into a half-human/half-rat wise man. The man-rat found four turtles – pet shop escapees who also got the Mutagenic treatment – whom he trains in the ways of the ninja. They aren’t always the best students, more interested in scarfing pizza and rattling off clever one-liners than perfecting their breathing techniques, but they are good kids at heart.

Meanwhile, the turtles’ city is being terrorized by a gang of teen punks called the Foot Clan, who rob and plunder under the direction of steel-masked ninja The Shredder. Out covering the crime wave, news reporter April O’Neil finds Leo, Don, Mike and Raph kicking Foot Clan tail.

Humanoid turtles not being common in those parts, she investigates the story and ends up being the boys’ liaison to the human world (they generally keep hidden inside the sewers). When Splinter and his students learn that the Foot Clan kids are actually being brainwashed by video games (see, your mother was right), the gang – along with sports nut vigilante Casey Jones – hits the streets to take a turtle-sized bite out of crime.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the movie, was closer to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the comic, than the carton series had ever been, and die-hard fans couldn’t have been happier. But the dark, PG-rated movie did nothing to scare away the hordes of Turtles devotees who’d made the cartoon such a hit. The live-action blockbuster was the biggest thing to come out of New Line Cinema to that date, and it was one of the biggest theatrical hits of the year.

CBS responded to the movie’s success by bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon from weekday syndication to Saturday morning, where it dominated the ratings for years. Two feature sequels followed in the next two years before kids eventually decided it was time for the next big thing (“Go Go Power Rangers…”).

Were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a part of your childhood? Did you get someone to take you to the film when it came out? We’d love to hear all of your memories in our comment section below.

One Response to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

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  1. Yes I like comic movie. This series is great

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