Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time Review

Taking a tone that’s reminiscent of the original film, but then populating it with the goofier sequel turtles, TMNT III is at best frustrating and at worst, downright bad.

It’s good to see our heroes using their weapons, and the latest suits allow a lot of movement. Unfortunately that’s at the cost of them looking fucking terrible. The gap between the eyes and bandanna is massive for a start, betraying the ‘actor in a suit’ look worse than any accidental mouth within a mouth could. Also, the neck roll is clearly where the head piece ends, making it look like a hat! Look back to the original Jim Henson suits, then at these. The difference is night and day. Splinter comes off even worse, with no movement in his body and a weak voice. This is not the same character that had Shredder over a rooftop ledge.

TMNT 1 Leo vs TMNT 3 Leo

So they look poor. But then they start moving and talking. Amazingly this manages to make things worse. Terrible dancing, awful ‘zingers’, and a properly pervy look at a returning Paige Turco’s legs thoroughly undermine anything good the film tries to do. TMNT III fails to score in the open goal that is Raphael development in the same way Secret of the Ooze did.

Everything bar the heroes clearly had money spent on it. The sets look great, as do the various period costumes. The limited CGI effects are a mixed bag, but not something you watch these films for. You’re watching a film produced by Golden Harvest, so the main expectation is around the action. I’ll always be astounded how those performers managed moves like high kicks and the splits whilst smothered in rubber.

Stuart Wilson is a great baddie, snarling his way through with charm. I knew I recognised him; turns out he’s the villain in The Mask of Zorro. It’s great to have Elias Koteas’s Casey Jones back, the actor perfectly inhabiting the role once again. Why he pulls double duty though I’ll never know.

This is an immensely frustrating film. If the original cinematic turtles had been in this situation, we’d have seen not only some serious emotion, but a real look into how they fit into Feudal culture. The series could have easily pivoted from a successful time travel story into the Utroms, Triceratons, or perhaps even Karai with a reformed Foot Clan. Instead we got another rushed attempt at humour and zeitgeist mocking. Such a shame that a series that started so strongly petered out due to fear and impatience. It would be over a decade before seeing the heroes in a half shell on the big screen again.

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