Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

The Turtles sometimes look great, Casey Jones, April

The Turtles are kind of obnoxious and fake

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Studio:  Golden Harvest

Genre(s):  Martial Arts/Superhero/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  March 30, 1990

MPAA Rating:  PG


When the evil Shredder attacks…these turtle boys won’t cut him no slack!

Heroes in the half-shell are out to save the world! When a crime wave rocks New York City, April O’Neil (Judith Hoag) finds herself on the trail of a mysterious organization called the Hand which might be responsible. April finds herself the target of the Hand and is saved by strange, mutated turtles named Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ mentor Master Splinter is captured by the Foot and their leader Shredder (James Saito), April, the Turtles, and a self-made superhero named Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) are on the run, but must rescue Splinter and stop Shredder’s crime spree.


I’m laughing because I’m in hell!!!

Directed by Steve Barron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released on the heels of the popular television show based on the small Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic which first premiered in May of 1984. The movie features the voices of Brain Tochi (Leonardo), Robbie Rist (Michelangelo), Corey Feldman (Donatello), Josh Pais (Raphael), and Kevin Clash (Splinter) as the Turtles and Splinter.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were already a phenomenon when the movie came out. The film came out a bit too late to fully capitalize on the popularity, but still was a huge success. The movie was met with mixed reviews but fans of the series generally liked the film.


I will shred you to splinters!!!

The story of the movie is basically based on the first few issues of the series with some modifications due to the popularity of the cartoon. The original comic was darker and less cartoony. The original turtles didn’t have color based headbands and were edgier. The movie isn’t very balanced between the humor and comedy and some of the ending sequence and violence involving Casey Jones seems a bit out of place with the more humorous turtles.

The look of the film is about as good as you can get with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (for the time). The characters were designed by Jim Henson and look like they are right out of the cartoon…but that also poses problems. Often the characters look robbery (and their shells are completely rubber…not solid). Sometimes the mouth pieces are great…other times they don’t look like they are working well…Also the Turtles look like they have limited mobility and not agile or ninja-like at all.


So this kid named Kick-Ass stole my gig?!?!

The Turtles are both the plus and the minus of the movie. Yes, they are like the TV show and kids will love that, but they seem to be much more annoying than the TV show and everything involving them is overacted. It works for a cartoon, but it is a bit tedious for the entire movie. The film’s acting is however aided by Judith Hoag as April O’Neil and Elias Koteas as Casey Jones. Casey Jones was always a favorite of mine and early example of the “average man” vigilante hero which is so popular now with comics and movies like Kick-Ass and Super.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will entertain kids or fans from the time the film was made. I hadn’t seen it in years and found my fond memories of the movie were a little tainted by time. The movie’s success did lead to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze in 1991.

Related Links:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II:  Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III:  Turtles in Time (1993)

TMNT (2007)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Turtles Forever (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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