|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
|Release date:||March 30, 1990|
|Gross:||$135,270,000 (in USA)|
$200,000,000 (worldwide) (Highest grossing independent film of its time)
|Starring:||Elias Koteas, Judith Hoag, Josh Pais, David Forman, Michelan Sisti, Leif Tilden, Kevin Clash|
|Music by:||John Du Prez|
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a 1990 American live-action film adaptation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise directed by Steve Barron. The film was followed by three sequels: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze in 1991, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in 1993, and TMNT in 2007. This film presents the origin story of Splinter and the Turtles, the initial meeting between them, April O'Neil and Casey Jones, and their first confrontation with The Shredder and his Foot Clan. The film is distributed by New Line Cinema and outside the United States is internationally distributed by Golden Harvest.
When the New York City Police Department is unable to stop a severe crime wave caused by the Foot Clan, four vigilantes — Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael — come forth to save the city. Under the leadership of Splinter and together with their new-found allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, they fight back and take the battle to The Shredder. The film kept very close to the dark feel of the original comics, with several elements also taken from the animated series that was airing at the time, such as April being a news reporter, and the turtles having different-colored masks, as opposed to the uniform red masks of the comic. The film was the highest-grossing independent film of all time when it was released, and became the ninth highest grossing film worldwide of 1990 and the most successful film in the franchise.
Made in three months, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seems to be the most popular film version with the fans, most likely because of its true to original form with its darker feel, realistic effects and costuming. The fans were treated to the most realistic live action version of the Turtles, complete with cutting edge animatronics and use of costuming materials. The film's creatures were designed by Jim Henson's creature shop (this being one of Henson's last projects as he would pass away later that year.)
In the beginning of the film, April O'Neil is seen doing a newscast on the sudden wave of crimes. It is reported that these robberies of all kinds are happening suddenly and without warning, and without witnesses. She also notes that most witnesses only catch a glimpse of the robber who most of the time seems to have been a teenager.
As April leaves the Channel 3 News building, she is attacked by a group of the juveniles after witnessing them stealing equipment. Raphael's sai is then thrown into the street light and the four turtles defeat and tie up the attackers, saving April. They then return to the sewers just as the police arrive. During their escape, Raphael forgets to retrieve his sai. Before the police notice it however, April secretly puts the weapon in her purse.
The Turtles are then seen walking home through the sewers, celebrating their victory. They meet with Splinter to discuss the outcome of their first fight on the surface. As Splinter gives them notes on their fight and reminds them of what it is to be a ninja, Michaelangelo is ordering dinner for the family. Splinter reprimands him for not paying attention and suggests them all meditate on the events of the evening. The moment is interrupted however, as the boys crank up the song "Tequila" and start dancing to it, Michaelangelo suggesting "it's like meditating". Raphael, disgusted at the immaturity his brothers are showing, goes off alone to see a movie (Critters). After the film, Raphael witnesses a couple of purse-snatchers and intervenes. One look at his sai sends the would-be crooks running. They escape into the local park where they are ambushed by Casey Jones. Before Casey can deliver his final blows, Raphael intervenes. The purse-snatchers take the opportunity to escape, so Casey takes out his frustration on Raphael, who ends up losing their one-on-one fight. Casey escapes, calling Raph a freak which angers him even more than losing and he chases Casey into the night. Raphael returns home later that evening only to run into Splinter. Splinter discusses Raphael's anger with him and to not alienate himself from his brothers.
In the morning, April is seen in her apartment with her boss, Charles Pennington, telling him about her attackers from the previous night. After an interview with Police Chief Sterns on TV, Raphael follows her into the subway to retrieve his missing sai. But the Shredder had already sent several members of the Foot to silence April. She is jumped and Raphael comes to her rescue after retrieving his sai. He then carries April to his home with the others, but he did not know he was followed.
When April wakes up, she is told the story of the Turtles' past by Splinter. She is then introduced to Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. The Foot Ninja who followed Raphael is seen peeking into the home of the turtles. The turtles then take April home, where they have some pizza and tell jokes. After they leave, they return to find their home sabotaged and Splinter missing. The turtles are outraged and return to April's home and stay there until they could hear more about Splinter's location.
After April's boss was blackmailed by Sterns because of his delinquent son, he went to April's home and told her to relax and not to push any buttons with Stern that day. Danny, Charles Pennington's son, spotted Michelangelo while in the apartment. When he returned to the east warehouse, the Foot's hideout, he told Shredder of the Turtles' location.
During her report, April ignored Pennington's warning and took another stab at chief Sterns. Back in the apartment, Raphael was angry that the turtles were doing nothing to save Splinter and he went to the rooftops to vent his anger. From across another rooftop, Casey Jones spotted Raphael in danger, because Raphael was jumped by the Foot. After April got home, she took the other turtles on a tour of her antique shop, without the knowledge of Raphael being in trouble.
Meanwhile, Raphael was defeated and thrown through the rooftop window, crashing into the antique shop below. The turtles fought against the Foot members endlessly. Eventually, Casey Jones arrived and rescued the turtles. He gave them time to escape the building, which had been set on fire. While he fought off the Foot, he overheard April's answering machine. It was Pennington, firing April from her job. The turtles, Casey, and April then escaped to April's old farmhouse.
Back in the hideout, the Shredder is revealed to be holding Splinter his prisoner. He is disappointed at the Foot's inability to ultimately defeat the turtles. In the farmhouse, the turtles are seen recovering from their first real defeat. After Raphael recovers, they all train to defeat the Foot. Meanwhile, Casey and April seem to be getting closer together by the minute. One night, the turtles have a telepathic encounter with Splinter, and that is their sign to go back.
After fixing a truck at the farmhouse, they return to their sewer home. They learn that Danny Pennington had run away from both his home and the Foot to hide with the turtles. But, he is having constant nightmares and he leaves the sewers to go back to the warehouse. Casey is awoken by Danny and follows him to the warehouse. Danny meets with the captured Splinter once more to here the tale of his past. But, as he is leaving, Shredder catches him and learns that the turtles are back. He then sends the Foot back into the sewers, to finish the turtles. But this time, he too was going.
Meanwhile, Danny is caught by Casey and after learning that Splinter was to be killed, they rush to free him. Casey then has a fight with Tatsu, Shredder's right hand man, and defeats him. Splinter and Casey then convince the juveniles who were following the Foot to go home. They leave the warehouse to follow the Foot to help the turtles, only to find that the noise from the fight has attracted a large crowd. The turtles easily defeated the Foot members and their fight led to the rooftops.
They then had their first encounter with Shredder. They take turns fighting the Shredder and are defeated. After one last round of attacks, the turtles are defeated and forced to choose between sacrificing their weapons or saving Leonardo, who is on the ground under Shredder's weapon. They throw away their weapons, but before Shredder could kill Leonardo, Splinter appears on the rooftops and reveals to him that he is the rat who attacked him so long ago.
Shredder charges Splinter but Splinter throws him over the rooftop, with Michelangelo's nunchaku. Shredder falls into the back of a garbage truck, where Casey Jones flips the switch to crush him. The police then arrive and April is rehired to do the report on the case. Casey and April then share a passionate first kiss as the turtles look on from the rooftops. The turtles are happily reunited and they happily hug their master and father Splinter. The films ends with the four turtles cheering "Cowabunga" and Splinter laughing because "he made a funny."
- All four actors who played the Turtles also appeared in cameos as minor characters, with David Forman (Leonardo) as a gang member, Michelan Sisti (Michaelangelo) as a pizza delivery man, Leif Tilden (Donatello) as a messenger of The Foot and Josh Pais (Raphael) as a passenger in a taxi.
- Josh Pais, who portrayed Raphael, is the only actor to portray a Turtle on screen and provide his voice.
Filming took place from July to September 1989. The film's budget was $13.5 million. A lot of the production took place in North Carolina (with a couple of location shoots in New York City during the summer of 1989 to capture famous landmark areas such as Times Square, Empire State Building, and the Hudson River), at the North Carolina Film Studios, where New York rooftop sets were created. Production designer Roy Forge Smith and his art director, Gary Wissner, went to New York City four months prior to filming and took still photographs of rooftops and other various locations. While in NYC, Smith and Wissner were allowed to explore an abandoned Brooklyn subway line, as they could not gain access to a city sewer, but the structure of the subway had the same principle as a sewer. They also went to a water tunnel which had large pipes running through it.
After design sketches were created, the construction team used the studios' backlot to create some of the sets. There were problems with the manholes that led to the Turtles' home, in that an eight-foot square room had to be constructed beneath them, but found water at about five-feet, and thus had to pour concrete into the underground rooms to keep the water out. In order to make the sewer authentic, a tide-mark was given, and it was covered with brick, plaster and stucco paint to give the walls a realistic look. The Turtles themselves were done by Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London. Jim Henson said that the creatures were the most advanced that he had ever worked with. The creatures were first made out of fiberglass, and then remolded out of clay. They were produced as moulds to cast the whole body in foam rubber latex. The work at the Shop was completed within 18 weeks.
Live Entertainment Inc. announced that the film would go to VHS via its Family Home Entertainment label on October 4, 1990. The suggested price was $24.99 per cassette. Pizza Hut engaged in a $20 million marketing campaign tied into the film. Items included advertising in print, radio, and television, and several rebate coupons.
The UK version was severely censored due to its censorship guidelines considering Eastern fighting weapons like the nunchaku. Alternate shots of Michaelangelo were used in order to conceal his nunchuku weapon, or omitted altogether - for instance, the show-off duel between Michaelangelo and a member of the Foot clan. Also, the death scene of Shredder was heavily cut because of this. The uncensored version was released on DVD in 2005 in the UK due to relaxations of the censorship laws. The German theatrical voice-dubbed version is identical with the UK version, i.e. it omits the usage of the nunchuku. Furthermore, the German dubbing audio track contains several "cartoon-like" sounds in order to soften the violence of the fight scenes. Although the German dub of the film was released with uncensored picture on DVD in Germany, the German dub audio version with the "funny noises" was still kept, because they were permanently merged into the German voice-dubbing audio.
The film was a commercial success and was praised by the large fanbase, but received mixed reviews from critics. Based on a sample of 38 reviews, the film holds a 44% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly as advertised: one-liners, brawls, and general silliness. Good for the young at heart, irritating for everyone else." Roger Ebert gave it 2½ stars out of 4, saying, "this movie is nowhere near as bad as it might have been, and probably is the best possible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. It supplies, in other words, more or less what Turtle fans will expect." The film was also criticized for its level of violence, but it was mostly stylized and not graphic. The film was praised for largely staying loyal to the original comics while also integrating several elements from the cartoon series.
The film opened at the box office in North America on March 30, 1990, entering at #1 over the weekend and taking in more than $25 million. The film turned out to be a huge success at the box office, eventually making over $135 million in North America, and over $66 million outside North America for a worldwide total of over $200 million, making it the ninth highest grossing film of 1990 worldwide. The film was also nominated for awards by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.
- This Is What We Do - M.C. Hammer
- Spin That Wheel - Hi Tek 3
- Family - Riff
- 9.95 - Spunkadelic
- Turtle Power - Partners in Kryme
- Let the Walls Come Down - Johnny Kemp
- Every Heart Needs A Home - St. Paul
- Shredder's Suite - John Du Prez
- Splinter's Tale I & Splinter's Tale II - John Du Prez
- Turtle Rhapsody - Orchestra on the Half Shell
In 1990, the film reached No.4 in home video market. The film was released to DVD in Region 1 on September 3, 2002; it includes only minor special features such as a trailer and interactive menus. The film was also released in the MiniDVD format.
On August 11, 2009, the film was included in a special 25th anniversary boxset, released to both DVD and Blu-ray formats. It also contains Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and 2007's animated release, TMNT. No additional features, other than theatical trailers, were included.
In Germany, however, a "Special Edition" was released on March 12, 2010 with additional features, including an audio commentary by director Steve Barron, an alternate ending, and alternate takes from the original German release where Michelangelo's nunchaku had been edited out.
- Program Start/The Silent Crime Wave
- Opening Credits
- The Art of Invisibility
- Dinner is Severed
- Encounter In the Park
- Master Yoshi's First Rule
- Raphael's Tough To Be a Stranger
- April Gets Tough With Chief Sterns
- No Minutes for April
- Warning By the Foot
- Running in the Sewer
- The Turtles' Origins
- Pizza Party
- Splinter is Missing
- Turtle Business
- Danny In Trouble The Foot Lair
- The Foot Attacks
- Danny Meets Splinter
- The Countryside Cottege
- Donatello's Truck Accident
- Leonardo Help Raphael
- Leonardo's Dream of Splinter
- A Campfire Tale of Splinter
- Where Gonna Find and Attack Shredder
- The Turtles Meet Shredder
- End Credits
- The T Files
- Splinter's DVD Game - Sewer Maze Game
- Computer Fun - Pizza Count
- Web Fun
- Audio Options
- Register Your DVD
- Suburban Commando
- The Mask
- Drop Dead Gourges
- Some of the Foot Clan in April's Apartment were brutally burned to death in the fire.
- Despite the film being promoted by Pizza Hut at the time, the turtles in the film are seen ordering from Domino's instead.
- April being a news reporter, the Turtles saying "Cowabunga", Michaelangelo's surfer accent, their love for pizza, and the multi-colored bandannas originate from the 1987 cartoon. The overall plot, meanwhile, is adapted from Mirage's 1-3/Me, Myself and I/What Goes Around... Comes Around!/Silent Partner, True Stories and Return to New York story arcs.
- The edge of the backdrop is visible when Shredder is running towards Splinter with his staff.
- The Turtles are 15 years old in this movie.
- Judith Hoag would later be replaced by Paige Turco for the role of April in the second and third films.
- When Splinter throws Shredder off the roof, a man's head is seen hold up Splinter from behind and in other scenes, human hands are seen around the Turtles, like when Mikey puts his head in his shell there are hands holding up his arms, or when Donnie is skate boarding through the sewers you can see a hand swing across while he's moving. When Donatello is laughing at Leo and Raph hugging in the bathroom, you can see and actor's mouth when he leans back while opening his mouth. Michaelangelo's neck is torn when he turns to the side and punches a foot ninja after putting his head in his shell, when Raphael is falling into the antique shop, human hands are seen intead of Raph's hands.
- In "Turtle Power," one of the songs from the soundtrack, Raphael is mistakenly mentioned as the "Leader of the Group".
- Splinter was voiced by Kevin Clash, who has voiced Elmo and other puppet characters. The actor who played Raphael was also the voice of Raphael and was playing a person in the back of a taxi ("What the heck was that?"). The actor who played Donatello was the actor who played a Foot Ninja in the subway. Michaelangelo was played by an actor who played the pizza man in the movie ("I gotta get a new route"). One of the gang members played Leonardo.
- The creators of the movie filmed it at North Carolina Studios and on location in New York City. Some of the places in the movie were created like April's house..
- Casey and Raphael battled in the park which is something that happened in the original Turtle Comics Raphael issue "Me, Myself and I". Casey Jones has no backstory like some other versions but he does tell April he used to play professionally before he got hurt less than a year.
- April also mentioned to the Turtles that this shop used to be her father's and he loved junk. She says, "Its kind of dumb to lose money on a business because you miss your father," and Donatello says to her, "No it isn't." April's father might have recently died or moved someplace else.
- Donatello is smelling April's panties in the background while the turtles are watching TV in her apartment.
- Splinter cloths are torn and beat down unlike the other versions of Splinter.
- When the Turtles are fighting the Foot Ninjas in the streets you can see a building with the words MMix on it.
- Donatello and Michaelangelo do shell bash twice in the movie.
- Michaelangelo's nunchucks are brown and have a rope instead of a chain like in other versions.
- Inside of Shredder's lair you can see a box with the words Archie Comics on it when its close too the part when a young boys is skating on a skating ramp but it can only be scene in slow motion. Inside the Turtles home you can see a clock, a stove, small pictures of Japanese words and a punching bag along with other things in the background. Its possible that the Turtles got their couch and stove from the junkyard and had Donatello fix it up.
- Director Steve Barron has directed a number of music videos for such famed artists as Michael Jackson, ZZ Top and Bryan Adams but has few feature films under his belt. including Coneheads.
- A poster of the horror film "Critters" is seen.
- A teenager plays Narc (video game) in a club.
- Instead of Michaelangelo, Donatello is the main skateboarder of the brothers.
- Footage from this movie was used in the intros for the Red Sky seasons of the 1987 Tv series mixed in along with footage from the show.
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