There have been several movies in the franchise, but I still think that the 1990 Ninja Turtle movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is the best of them.
During the ’90s, the Ninja Turtles were the peak of their popularity; everyone knew who they were. The wise-cracking turtles were everywhere. It didn’t matter where you were, they were there. Their faces were everywhere, on video games, toys, cereals and T-shirts. The catchy theme song was on millions of lips.
The next phase for them was obviously a movie. The 1990 Ninja Turtle Movie may not have had the budget that it’s predecessors did, but unlike them, it seems to have stood the test of time and kept itself in fans hearts for several reasons.
1. Perhaps the biggest thing that endured it to the comic fans was the fact that it stayed true to the source material created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The original was a dark and violent tongue-in-cheek back and white comic, vastly different than that animation popular on TV.
2. Cinematographer John Fenner and Director Steve Barron gave the movie a grainy, low-budget look for a large portion of the movie, while surprising us with vibrant daylight and outdoor shots to give us a sharp contrast.
3. The Turtles and Splinter were remarkably life-like. They were brought to life by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. There were two versions of the Turtle suits. the studio created “Stunt Turtles” and “Hero Turtles.” The “Hero Turtles” are the ones on display for most of the film, while the “Stunt Turtles” were designed so the stuntmen could actually move and perform the martial arts.
4. Despite the 50 lb, foam rubber “Stunt Turtle” suits the stunt people performed excellently. All Turtle action sequences were performed by trained martial art stunt people straight out of Hong Kong.
These features are what brought the 1990 ninja turtle movie to our attention and it is these same features that have kept the original in our hearts for the past 30 years. I also think that it is the same reason the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie will continue to be a favorite for generations to come.