Friday, November 12, 2010

“Hey, its wet-willy time”

1993 brought about one more Turtles movie. Only this time, the Jim Henson Creature Shop was not involved. And… Well… nobody really likes it. Like, at all. Sounds like a good enough reason to take a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.

April O’Neil (Paige Turco) visit’s the Turtles spacious underground digs and tells them she’s going on vacation. She also brings some gifts for the gang and an antique scepter that for some reason, starts glowing and April gets thrown through time to Feudal Japan and replaced with Kenshin (Henry Hayashi), the son of a powerful daimyo with daddy issues. Why? Through the age-old storytelling crutch of an ancient prophecy, of course!

Anyway, our heroes Leonardo (Mark Caso & voiced by Brian Tochi), Raphael (Matt Hill & voiced by Tim Kelleher), Donatello (Jim Raposa & voiced once more by Corey Feldman) and Michaelangelo (David Fraser & voiced by Robbie Rist) resolve to use the scepter to go after April and bringing four samurai warriors to New York in the process. Can Splinter (voiced by James Murray) and Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) keep these five samurai out of trouble? Hilarity of course is supposed to ensue (and well, kind of does, since Koteas’ Jones is a welcome return to the series)

Moving on, the Turtles end up in Japan circa 1603 and find out that April’s been captured by the daimyo’s men because of the whole magic thing. The Daimyo, Lord Norinaga (Sab Shimono) is apparently a bad dude, since his army is putting down a rebellious village for…being rebellious I guess. It’s really vague, but it’s the kind of movie where “rebels = good because that’s what Star Wars did.” Anyway, Norinaga forms an uneasy partnership with a much more clearly bad guy: the Englishman Walker (Stuart Wilson, who was the bad guy in Lethal Weapon 3) and his thugs. Walker’s a bit of a dandy and a gun for hire that is really in it to make a profit. He’s got a crew of thugs, led by Niles (John Aylward as one of the funnier characters) and there’s Whit, a dissenting member of the crew that kind of latches on to April that reminds her of Casey Jones (and happens to be played by Koteas as well). The Turtles (who are regarded by the Japanese as fearsome kappa demons, which actually makes a fair bit of sense) rescue April, escape to the village and team up with the rebels and their leader Mitsu (Vivian Wu) who is also Kenshin’s lover. And you can see where the plot goes from here.

There aren’t any really terrible performances, but there aren't any really good performances either.  You can kind of tell that there’s not much heart being poured into it. There aren’t even that many fight scenes compared to the first two films. Still, Michaelangelo & Raphael get some character development spotlight, which is not a bad thing.

Directed by Stuart Gillard, you can tell the budget was much lower than the previous outings. The animatronics and Turtle costumes are a definite step down from the Henson creations. There’s also the infamous falling scene from the end of the movie where a character drops off the fortress into the water below and simply vanishes through the miracle of bad editing (though there is a splash sound).

Characters created by Eastman & Laird and screenplay written by Stuart Gillard. The story runs along on rails rather predictably and the Turtles’ schtick is wearing kind of thin at this point. Some of the comedic bits hit, but more often than not they don’t. Such as all of Donatello's increasingly grating catchphrases and one-liners.

Original music by John Du Prez yet again, which amps up the Japanese musical cues and the soundtrack also includes ZZ Top’s “Can’t Stop Rockin.”

There’s no way I can ever call Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III a good movie. HOWEVER, it isn’t really as bad as people say it is. It’s bad, but compared to dreck like Robot Holocaust, it’s totally watchable. I will admit that part of it might be nostalgia goggles (I did watch this one quite a few times as a kid), but honestly, I don’t hate it at all, but it does get quite annoying at times.

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