Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Half-Shell Retrospective: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
Director: Stuart Gilliard
Starring: Paige Turco, Elias Koteas, Corey Feldman, Stuart Wilson, Sab Shimono, Vivian Wu, Eidan Hansei
Rated: PG-13

Who were you expecting? The Addams Family?

Secret Of The Ooze may not have been the raging success that the original was, but it was still a big hit and sizeable success in its own right.  Of course there would be a third Turtle movie.  What would a third Ninja Turtle adventure bring?  Would we get away from the Shredder?  Would there be new mutants?  Would we see characters from the comic or from the cartoon adapted for a live action movie?  The Turtles universe seemed like such an untapped well with plenty of places to go and explore and characters to introduce.  Two movies using the Shredder and then Tokka and Rahzar'ing it up felt like they held back the series a little, but now we were ready to jump off.  This was going to be an exciting and fresh opportunity for the 3rd film. 
And it ended up being one big missed opportunity.  What in the hell was this movie?  Nobody wanted this.  They kind of went back to the well and borrowed an idea from the original comic run (time travel back to feudal Japan), but took the attitude of the 2nd film and cranked it up to blow out the speakers.  Even from the trailers, this movie did not look interesting at all.  So uninteresting, I actually didn't go to theaters to see this one and just patiently waited for VHS.  That's telling you something if 12 year old Brandon had that restraint.  More likely, I was sort of moving on or actually had moved on from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I was definitely in my early years of being a hardcore horror junkie at this point.  Really, I was just into other stuff and the Turtles...THIS Turtle movie was a buncha kid stuff.  I was more into watching teenagers group up and get hacked up one-by-one in a multitude of ways by lunatics in drug store Halloween masks.  Too busy for "Help I'm a Turtle and I can't get up." 
While Secret Of The Ooze was a goofy detraction from the first film, at least it was that and committed to it.  The whole movie was dedicated to just being silly and wanting to have fun at the expense of the adults taking their kids to see it.  This one is a wild mish mash.  The feudal Japan timeline tells a serious story and inserts the Secret Of The Ooze style Turtles to the mix.  And its not really fish out of water much at all as the prime focus is telling this damn "Guns are bad.  Make peace not war with your enemy.  Romeo & Juliet" esque storyline.  What results from this is absolute boredom.  This movie is not interesting at all.  Its short but feels like a 3 hour epic.  Nothing at all works.  It just slugs on and on.  This movie makes the Turtles' one-liners almost impossible to swallow as it just feels like the movie is trying its best to piss you off and rub it in your face that you spent money on it.
Speaking of our heroes, they have a different costume/puppet/makeup shop creating them this time around.  Jim Henson's company did not return for whatever reason.  And yeah, the costumes in this movie are even pretty bad.  Less grit to them, more brighter, fun happy go-lucky looking.  Corey Feldman comes back as Donatello, but its too damn late.  He gets also 2 of the worst lines in the movie.  Michaelangelo is the Turtle who gets the focus this time, and being my favorite Turtle that's awesome, but boy does it suck.  His story arc is dung and stupid.  Oh and Splinter is now cute and cuddly here, but sounds like he's smoked 2 boxes of cigars daily since the last movie.  I know I like to be positive and find good in even the worst movies, but this movie is an extreme challenge to do so and I found myself coming up pretty much completely empty handed.
But wait!  Casey Jones is back!  And he's more kid-friendly.  He looks like he bathes regularly and his hair is nicely done.  His clothes also look like they could describe the inside of a washing machine.  Okay, Casey, let's go back in time and kick bu-wait...sit here and watch over these ancient warriors in the present?  Boo!  Instead we get Whit, also played by Koteas who they mention looks like Casey but drop all that right there.  Lame.  Paige Turco becomes the Roger Moore of April O'Neils with this 2nd turn.  She's all right, but she's mostly there to be rescued and look pretty.  "Shhwiiiing!!" as the Turtles I have keep thinking abou this movie?
We have bad guys in this movie.  Ultimately is the blah zzzz boring Walker who brings guns to the Japanese sword show.  I really don't know what much to say about him, because neither the actor nor the character prove very much interesting.  Its just the bad guy.  And that's that.  We have Japanese bad guys, but they're more just confused rather than they are bad. 
I'm out of gas talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III folks.  This one is just not good.  Its not a mixed bag, its not weird, its not laughably bad...its the worst kind.  Its completely boring and rather insulting at the same time.  While it did open #1 and did make double its budget, it KILLED the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series on the big screen.  The franchise would live on very healthily in the world of television, but bringing the Turtles back to movie theaters would have to wait another 14 years.  Had Turtles III performed better or been ecstatically received there was already production gearing up for a fourth film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: The Next Mutation.  The idea was that the ooze wasn't done on them and progressed them to have further changes and added powers.  Reading about it, it sounded like a bad idea, so i'm glad we never saw it in the movies.  They actually attempted it toward the end of the original cartoon series run and that only confirms how terrible it would have been (season 10 is not very good).

NEXT TIME: We had to wait 14 years for this next movie, but you won't have to wait near that long for the Naptown Nerd piece on it.


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