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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles....The Movie!
Matt - 06/09/00

I'm about to embark on another special expose mission for X-E, but before I let the make-up guys get me all pretty for the camera, here's an article about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie...

Yes, movie. When I heard that there was going to be a live-action version of those cartoon turtles that so encompassed my life, I was more than excited. Surely, this had to be the best news I had ever received in my entire life.

The Turtles weren't something we just liked a lot...they became a surrogate religion for us kids. Between watching Turtle shows, buying Turtle toys, and eating Turtle cereal, no aspect of our lives went untouched. I even went as far as to buy a turtle from the local pet store, cover in in strawberry jelly, and prey to the Turtle Gods up above to mutate it into a witty, hip, mutant ninja.

Of course, that didn't happen....yet. Still, when I got wind of the news that these guys would have their feature film, I told my mother to stop the press. Unfortunately, she was cooking at the time, and my statement held little true meaning, but I think she got the point that this movie was a must-see for my younger self, and hired my evil older brother to take me to...the show.

On the Day of Reckoning, my brother and I stood outside the theatre on a line that had to be at least six times longer than any commencement the Pope could hope to achieve. All us kids knew that this wasn't just some mass-marketed flick based on some silly toys...this was the true babylon of the media world.

As we stood on that line, I explained to my brother all the Turtle-dynamics. What each of the turtles represented, how they came to be, how Splinter (their mutant rat mentor) fit into the picture, and of course, the evil Shredder. My feeble brain thought that the movie would be nothing more than a live-action version of the cartoon with no sort of updating whatsoever. The commercials for the movie were vague enough not to give us any true insight. But when we got in the theatre and the movie started rolling, I was floored...and here's why...

The Many Things of the TMNT Movie I Was Just Not Expecting...

* In the cartoon, Raphael was sassy. In the movie, Raphael was a tough-talkin' street thug who'd kill his own mother at the drop of a hat, yo. Raphael was beyond a shadow of a doubt the most agitated live-action giant Turtle I had ever encountered.

* Splinter's explanation of how they came to be. It almost made perfect sense in the cartoon - Splinter was a guy who turned into a mutant rat after handling the rare, experimental mutagen. In the movie, things got weirder. We find out that Splinter was always a rat - and a rat who had always practiced ninjitsu. When the pre-mutated rat form of Splinter started doing axe kicks and karate chops from his little birdcage, my brother begged me to let him leave. I ignored the request, but even at such a young age, I wasn't buying it. Splinter was a man trapped in a rat's body...not a rat trapped in a mutant rat's body.

* Donatello soon established himself as my new favorite turtle. Not because he wore purple...not because he wielded a giant stick, and no, not even because he could build crazy gizmos like that retard duck from Duck Tales. Nope, it was because he was voiced by Corey Feldman. Yes, the same Corey Feldman who wore silly hats and fucked Nicole Eggert behind Corey Haim's back in Blown Away. That Corey Feldman. In a sense of poetic irony, it's only fitting that Feldman provided the voice for a thing that lives in the sewer, since if this was the last time his name was to be mentioned on the big screen, that's certainly where his career has gone.

* In the cartoon, Casey Jones was a spooky anti-hero who wore a hockey mask and talked as if he was really tired. In the movie, Casey Jones was a love machine with more cynical wit than John Stamos. His steamy sex scene with April was too steamy for the original cut, and is only available on the non-existent 'Mega' Director's Cut, but trust me, it happened.

* Shredder sucked. I'm sorry, but Shredder had personality on the cartoon. After all, when you're being voiced by the guy who played Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, personality is a virtual given. In the movie however, Shredder looked like that dirty cook at the Chinese restaurant who you really hope remembers to wear gloves before serving you.

* Splinter, who was a vibrant, healthy mutant rat in the cartoon, turned into a heaping mess of rat in the movie. Splinter was wise in the movie, but christ, he looked like a dog who just got ran over. He was also kidnapped and tortured by Shredder. On the plus side, he made a funny.

While all these combined elements proved that the Turtle movie was a far cry from the Turtle cartoon we all knew and loved, I still liked it. It gave my friends and I a few new catchphrases to help us with our mission to sound like idiots, and actually, it was a good movie for what it was. It had an actual storyline, plot development, and characters who you'd eventually connect with even if you tried really hard not to.

I guess I should give you the general plot of the movie...

April O'Neil, a beautiful, young television investigative reporter at Channel 3's Eyewitness News, is doing a story on the recent height of robbery in New York City. One evening after her nightly newscast she encounters thieves in the act of robbing one of the TV stationís remote vans. The street lights go out., there are sounds of a struggle and shadowy figures lock in combat in the darkness behind her. When the police arrive, they find April dazed but unharmed, with the thieves neatly tied up around her.

Inside the sewers of New York, April's rescuers are revealed. Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello, the heroic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have returned to the sewer to report to their master Splinter. After some pizza, Raphael goes out and wins a fight with Casey Jones, a self-appointed vigilante who wields a variety of sports implements as weapons. A martial-arts athlete, Casey decides that it is time to go into the dangerous, criminal world of the streets and save New York.

Meanwhile, crimes continue to escalate, despite April's prodding of ineffective police chief, Ross Sterns, to clean up the city. But April does manage to incite the group responsible for the crimes: a clandestine organization known as The Foot. Whom she is ;ater attacked by, again, this time in the subway. Again, Raphael saves her. This time, he brings her to the Turtles' sewer lair. Here, Splinter and his Turtles tell the spooked April their story.

As the Turtles escort April back to her apartment, Splinter is kidnapped by The Foot. The Turtles return to April's apartment, while The Foot takes Splinter to its headquarters, a huge warehouse. It is here that The Shredder builds his empire, using an army of ninja-trained teen-agers as his thieves. One of The Shredder's workers is Danny Pennington. Danny also happens to be the son of Charles Pennington, April's boss. Having this little "link of knowledge", Danny tells The Shredder where the Turtles have been hiding.

With this knowledge, The Foot launches an attack, destroying April's apartment. This leads to an all out battle between The Foot and the Turtles. This causes April, the Turtles and Casey all to flee to April's childhood home in the country, where the Turtles deal with their defeat, each in his own way. In the calm serenity of the countryside, Casey and April discover each other. At the same time, April and Raphael feel an attraction to each other -- but this feeling is never acknowledged because of the difference in species.

The Turtles discover, through a telepathic message from their still-imprisoned Master Splinter, that the true Ninja is not of the body, but of the mind. They all begin to retrain in the Ninja way. With their new knowledge and skills, the Turtles return to New York. Casey manages to rescue Splinter, and with the changed Danny's help, the Turtles engage in their final battle with The Foot. The battle climaxes with Splinter defeating The Shredder, who is revealed to be the assassin of Splinter's Ninja master. New York is saved, and the Turtles are finally reunited with their Ninja master.

The turtles rejoice with a COWABUNGA while we see Casey giving April a big kiss. In the next scene, April's boss is giving April a new and better job back at channel 3. While all of The Shredder's old Foot members inform the cops of exactly where the old hide out is.

Oh fuck that. Here's a far less involved synopsis: Shredder is convincing kids to turn to crime and steal lots of Sony stereos. April befriends the Turtles and Splinter. Casey Jones, despite an earlier tiff with Raph, joins the fray. Lots of fights and personal growth ensue. Pizza is eaten, skateboards and ridden, and lots of crazy Turtle action goes on. Everyone goes home happy.

In closing, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie was only a natural progression of the Turtle-mania sweeping the nation around 1990. After all, if items like the following were on store shelves, a movie to accompany them seemed only right...

- Matt

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