Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Synopsis: America’s most awesome amphibians are back and this time they’re history in this motion picture adventure. When a magic scepter accidentally transports April back through time to 17th Century Japan, the boys takeoff in hot pursuit, cowabungling their way right out of the sewers right into Samurai-O-Rama! Now they must battle the evil Lord Norinaga to reclaim the magic scepter that will bring them back below the subways of New York City. So join the heroes on the half-shell in a totally turtle-rific trip through time the entire family will love.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III 6.0

On home video, this third adventure of the TMNT is subtitled “Turtles in Time”. If you haven’t seen this film, then you may be wondering what the heck that means. Well, what it means is that the TMNT pulled one of sci-fi’s most popular gimmicks out of their hat: they decided to do some time traveling.

Before choking with revulsion, you must know one thing: at least they sent the turtles back to feudal Japan. How they did it, and why, doesn’t really matter here (and hardly in the film either, to be truthful…), but, thankfully, they didn’t go in the future or ended up fighting American Indians.

By sending them to feudal Japan, at least the ninja turtles sort of make sense contextually. The flip side of this, however, is that they are no longer playing the “fish out of water” card – and this was their greatest asset. Let’s face it: what makes this series distinct from any other action series? The heroes are ninjas, that’s what. And ninjas that must remain underground because they’re turtles, to top it all off.

But if you displace them to 17th century Japan, they’re martial artists in a sea of martial arts. The only thing making them special is the fact that they’re mutant turtles. Except that in this film they’re “hidden” behind samurai armour, so everyone thinks they’re human (because everyone’s too blind and/or stupid to notice a difference, obviously! Duh!). So, really, it’s just an action flick in Japan. With samurai.

Amp up the corniness (on the part of the TMNT), and throw in a lot more clichés to this cookie-cutter adventure than we had in previous instalments, and you’ve got a far less enjoyable film. It still has its moments, and it’s still the TMNT in some ways, but, for the most part, it’s no better than most ‘80s action films (while there are standout ones, one has to admit that there were a LOT of crappy action films in the ‘80s). Let’s just say that I’d watch this before ‘Rambo II’, but definitely not before ‘First Blood’.

TMNT III, while better than what I seemed to remember (I wonder if I saw it after all – I couldn’t remember any of it, actually), is unmemorable on most counts. It wouldn’t turn off anyone from watching the TMNT, but it’s certainly not the series’ greatest asset. I’d recommend first-timers and fans alike to simply skip it; it’s a superfluous entry in the series and one can easily live without it.

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