Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SepTMNTber - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is the black sheep of the Turtles trilogy and I’m not exactly sure why. I know it’s a departure from their escapades fighting the Foot Clan and there’s no Shredder, but I’m not seeing a major difference in quality here.  The Turtles still look good, and it retains its trademark sense of humor, and most of the cast is the same – they even brought back Elias Koteas as Casey Jones and Corey Feldman as Donatello.

I’m not here to talk smack about the movie because I don’t hate or even dislike it.  If that’s what you want, you should check out Cinemassacre’s figurative and literal bashing of the movie. I do have major questions on why they decided to do what they did, but it’s not enough to leave me disappointed or frustrated.

The main story we’re dealing with here is a relic teleports April into feudal Japan, and the Turtles must travel through time to rescue her.  It’s a time tested (pun intended) formula and it really works here considering a quarter of what the Turtles are is Ninja and that’s where it was born, if not when it was too.  They’re able to disguise themselves as the daimyo’s honor guard, rescue April, overthrow an Englishman’s plot for power, and go back to their own time.

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is out as the puppeteers for the Turtles, and their absence is noticed.  The Turtles still look really good and have the same functionality as before, but there’s a bit of life missing from them.  The voice cast is still at it and Feldman’s return is definitely appreciated.  It was weird hearing him as Donatello in the first movie, but after the bland portrayal in the second one by Leif Tilden, who was the actor in the suit as well, was doubly disappointing because of Donatello’s focus in the story.  While Feldman doesn’t get any breakout scenes In this movie, the recognizable voice helps elevate him a bit.

Since Raphael and Leonardo got the focus in the first movie, and Donatello in the second, you'd think this time Michelangelo would get some big scenes in this movie, but you'd be wrong.  I mean, they tried doing that with Mikey wanting to stay in the past, but he only got two scenes to talk about it, so it surprises you in the end.  I wish he got more scenes to show his desire to stay, slowly learning more about it and liking what he finds.  It's undercut thought because Raphael has the same progression to the same conclusion, so Mikey's decision doesn't stand out.

April plays a bigger role here than the second film, which allows Paige Turco to show she’s the superior April, looking like the cartoon and showing some attitude.  The Turtles are rubbing off on her – uh, that sounds gross after they schwing’d her.  I was pretty disappointed that Casey Jones got nothing to do.  Elias plays him with his typical bravado, but I’m not sure what the point was of having him play another guy in the past.  If he wasn’t tied to Casey Jones’s past, what’s the point?

My biggest problem with the film is that going to the past in Japan could have still been linked to the Turtles’ history.  The writers could have easily had the Turtles run into Uroko Saki’s or Hamoto Yoshi’s ancestors, or an early Foot Clan, tying in themes from current times.  Maybe the Turtles go full circle, helping to establish the Foot Clan?  Maybe some weird stories from Splinter’s past are finally explained by learning of their involvement with the Hamoto family?  As it is, facing off against some generic English trader and his crew and saving a generic Japanese daimyo felt pretty... meh to me.  And what was with that scroll showing the Turtles as some legendary demons.  What was that about?  It didn't even lead to any big revelation!  It's such a missed step that could have made this movie way better.

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