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'Turtles' stands up as good B-movie

Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half shell, turtle power.
By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 17, 2005
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Note: The following is the first in a series of reviews that analyzes films that are thought to be modern "classics" by college students, but probably only because no one has watched them in 15 years. Most of the films will be from the mid-'80s to the early '90s, because we're trying to latch on to that whole VH1 "I Love the..." phenomenon. This won't be a weekly feature, but when the only new movies are uninteresting crap like "8 Mile 2" and "Jumanji in Space," we might as well take a look back at when we were so young and innocent (read: nave). If you have suggestions for good films to review for this new series, please email the Arts desk at

I was pumped when "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" finally hit the big screen. I recall being more than satisfied with the cool blend of turtle action, Michalangelo's one-liners and the MC Hammer-infused soundtrack. Sure, it could have used some Kris Kross, but that's out of my control.

I never much cared for the sequel about the ooze or the one about time traveling, but the original was etched into my brain as being "gnarly." I was determined to find out just how gnarly it really was.

The film begins with April O'Neil (Judith Hoag) describing the current crime wave that's wreaking havoc on New York. Soon, we see her leaving the studio, only to run into some street toughs who have to be dealt with by the Turtles. However, the Turtles try to remain incognito, and this is perhaps their first mission.

They return to their underground lair and we meet Splinter as they order some pizzas. God, they love their pizza.

See It!

7 out of 10
Rated PG
93 Minutes
New Line Cinema

Raphael, trying to get back one of his daggers, follows April and saves her once again. A group known as the Foot is trying to get her out of the picture because she's getting too close to knowing the real truth about who is behind the increased crimes.

Raphael flees the scene with an unconscious April. When she wakes up, she befriends the turtles.

Unfortunately, a member of the Foot follows Raphael and finds the Turtles' secret lair. Soon, Shredder orders an attack on their home, and Splinter is kidnapped.

Splinter is taken back to a hedonistic hideout that houses the city's criminals - mostly runaway kids - and the members of the Foot.

The Turtles, with the help of rogue hockey stick hero Casey Jones (Elias Koteas), plan to recover and rescue Splinter while taking down the Foot in the process.

The film, which you'd think would be cheesy, somehow doesn't embarrass itself 15 years later. The turtle suits that the actors wear allow for some pretty good fight scenes, and the film is darker and grittier than expected. Clearly inspired by Tim Burton's "Batman," which was released the previous year, "Turtles" does well with only one-third of the budget.

Also, look out for a very young Sam Rockwell in one of his first roles as "head thug."

Unfortunately, it was somewhat disappointing watching the movie again. For one, I remember the Turtles liking crazy toppings like Raisin Bran on their pizza, but here they get normal toppings and order from Domino's. Also, it's pretty obvious as they put pizza into their suits' mouths that they can't even eat.

Shredder and Splinter's relationship is never as intense as in the cartoons, and neither look good in their suits.

Although the film still kind of sucks, it's pretty fun to watch again, but not essential viewing. At least happy memories of your childhood won't be crushed.

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