Like many of you who grew up during the eighties, the Ninja Turtles was a big part of my life. It was a fun, kick ass animated series that took the plots as seriously as can be while also squeezing in some hilarity in the process. Michelangelo is the primary source for the comic relief and thankfully in everything I’ve ever seen from the heroes in a half shell, there’s never been an instance where one character was annoying or grating. Now comes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles box set from Warner that not only includes every Ninja Turtle movie ever made, but also arrives with a choice few special prizes the youngens will enjoy. The entire set comes in a fancy DVD case with a cover that resembles a man hole. When opened we get a basic booklet that features separate discs and sadly a bunch of black DVD holders that serve no purpose. Thankfully that one faulty aesthetic is more than made up for when you take in to consideration what you’re getting here.
Ranging from anywhere between twenty five to thirty five dollars we’re given temporary tattoos of all of the ninja turtles and a pack of special masks your children can wear to play as the turtles. I’m still trying to figure out why Warner packaged this set as the 25th Anniversary set when none of the movies in the sets are barely even close to being 25 years old. The 1990 TMNT film is almost twenty years old, so its suspect that they’d want to advertise this as something it’s not. The reason for adding the 25th on the set is flat out lying. I just expected more honesty. As for the movies themselves, they’re all in great condition and thankfully never resort to flip discs. They’re all their own separate presence and you can look through the timeline of the movies with sheer unabashed excitement. First up is Steve Barron’s adaptation of the animated series with a tone that keeps the movie slightly comedic but presents much more focus on the drama and tragic interplay between the turtles.
1990’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is still a lot of fun and one of the better comic book adaptations I’ve seen filled with one on one fist fights and the turtles doing what they do best: Kick some foot solder ass! And did I mention Casey Jones was in it? Barron keeps the story going with a sense of urgency that involves the kidnapping of master Splinter and the turtles attempts to find strength without their teacher and mentor leading them. It’s a movie that holds up well even to this day and it’s a definite recommendation for the kids.
1991’s “The Secret of the Ooze” is that sequel that just didn’t work. Aside from casting a new April O’Neil in the primary part of the adventure we also get new voices for the turtles who act and look very unusual from the start of the film. Though not a complete bomb “The Secret of the Ooze” earned its cult status for including the once popular Vanilla Ice singing the Ninja rap while the turtles kick ass in a night club and do some dancing of their own. And who can forget Mega Shredder? Nonetheless “The Secret of the Ooze” is a rather anemic experience with villains that fail to be as intimidating as they were in the first film. The writers insistence on turning the film predominantly comedic with strings of segments that almost never manage to help crack a smile.
People more familiar with the 1990 film may not enjoy the surreal special effect and central plot, but I gather the kids won’t care too much. I’ve only seen its four times since its release but 1993’s “Turtles in Time” is definitely the worst of the bunch. Thanks to a mysterious scepter, the turtles are transported back in time in 17th century Japan. The primary problem behind the premise and the film itself is that is blatantly rips its own storyline from the likes of Seven Samurai where their accidental time warp turns them in to heroes forced to defend a village from outside villains. To add insult to the sheer boredom that arises, Elias Koteas appears as an ancient version of Casey Jones for reasons I’m still not sure about. All I can remember from this sequel is that even as a child I really didn’t like it at all and almost sixteen years later it’s still a stinker.
2007’s TMNT is a movie that received plenty of bad buzz from critics and fans alike. As for me I found it to be a very entertaining revival of the series with great animation and wonderful voice work. Sadly it’s an underrated movie that is set to be pushed aside for the upcoming franchise reboot, and that’s a shame. We were given all the beloved characters, Shredder and foot soldiers and still fans weren’t happy. That bit of bad taste aside, I enjoyed TMNT a great deal and loved how the relationship between Leonardo and Raphael was further emphasized. When it’s said and done “TMNT” definitely isn’t perfect, but it works as a great time killer with wicked fight scenes. I definitely suggest checking it out. While Warner fibs about this being the 25th Anniversary celebration, it doesn’t take away the fact that this is one great box set with prizes for the kids and the complete collection of Ninja Turtles films that you can enjoy for hours. I love trips back to my childhood.