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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)



Average Rating: 4.8/10
Reviews Counted: 49
Fresh: 20 | Rotten: 29

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly as advertised: one-liners, brawls, and general silliness. Good for the young at heart, irritating for everyone else.


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 8

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly as advertised: one-liners, brawls, and general silliness. Good for the young at heart, irritating for everyone else.



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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 250,213

My Rating

Movie Info

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is the live-action, feature film adaptation of the cult comic book and the popular animated television show. After prolonged exposure to radiation, four teenage turtles--Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello--have mutated into ninjas and have begun living in the sewers of a large city. Under the guidance of a ninja master Splinter the Rat and television reporter April, the Turtles embark on a mission to run crime out of the city and battle the

Dec 16, 1997

New Line Cinema - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (29) | DVD (4)

The cynicism of the motion picture industry will be apparent to any child who is exposed to the many product plugs for a nationwide pizza delivery company.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As a movie, Ninja Turtles would make a better cereal. It looks like it needs a little milk and mother-wit poured over it, something to make it snap, crackle and pop.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ninja Turtles is cluttered and flashy. In terms of plot, there's not much flesh on its bones.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The results are lively and funny enough to keep adults enthralled as well as kids.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What troubles me about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that it's basically an exploitation movie aimed at young children.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dismal, tedious affair.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Comments (5)
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The unapologetically hokey humor and dialogue and characters have their charms for sheer late-'80s kitsch value.

August 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Despite brisk direction by Steve Barron, plus unbridled energy and fine special effects, an overt glorification of violence is still at the crux of this stunt film.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A movie that displays two traits nobody would ever associate with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: It is grim and it is no fun.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Elias Koteas scores as a mock-turtle vigilante, and there are some nifty turtle effects from the Henson Creature Shop, but little else hits the target, despite Barron covering the cracks with fast editing.

August 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

An excellent adaptation, and a raucous, brutally entertaining action fantasy that embraces the source material lending it valid complexity, and depth.

July 31, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed uneven, needlessly episodic adaptation that simply isn't able to justify its feature-length running time.

May 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Muppetry coaxes campy '90s hit out of its shell.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

Of the three live-action films, this one is the best. The characters are fresh, and the adventure has a great start to the franchise.

September 21, 2010 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Cowabunga! A hip and happening time for fans of all ages!

October 26, 2008

A well-rounded, unpretentious, very funny, knockabout adventure -- subtly blended so that it's fun for all the family.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

By no means exceptional, but you have to admire the turtle performers for their agility, and Elia Corteas for keeping a straight face.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Entertaining enough to gloss over the crassness of its underpinnings.

April 25, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

This live action "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film definitely feels like it pays tribute to the old show in many ways, while also going a bit too far in some moments. I felt like the puns overshadowed some of the scenes, which I'm sure it was intended that way, but it took me out of the film in some portions. The witty humour is perfect in this film and the Turtles are all portrayed in an enjoyable fashion. It's nothing spectacular, but the direction is fine, the script is good enough, the animatronics of the Turtles is pretty impressive for it's time and budget, and the fight scenes are hilariously awesome to watch. This film holds a place in my heart as being dumb amazing fun!
August 7, 2014
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Steve Barron has 4 turtles in his shell. 4 teenage mutant ninja turtles.While looking a little cheesy, and not just the pizza, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entertains for all of its 90 minutes. It isn't good clean fun for its entirety, as the the story manages to get some downtime and character going. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.The costumes and the animatronics work well for its time. Excellent choreography stems from the martial arts sequences and it leaves the want for more, especially with the weapons.Judith Hoag and Elias Koteas bring personality to the table and they do stand out amongst the human characters. The voicework of the turtles falls into place over time; perhaps not the greatest, but certainly acceptable.Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spoils the pizza every once and a while, but all in all, it is a recommendable pizza delivery.
July 17, 2014
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

The first Turtle movie and I just about recall how big of a furore it made when it came out. Everything was all about the Turtles back then, Turtle mania, everything was pizza, skateboarding, martial arts and using surfer slang...particularly annoying.

The plot is an origins plot obviously, telling the story of how the Turtles come to meet 'April' and 'Casey', how they came into existence and their first battle with 'Shredder' and his Foot Clan. What is good about this film is the fact they incorporated elements from both the original comic book and the popular cartoon. At the same time the film was also quite dark in places and with a lot so called bad influential material such as kids being taught the ways of crime, stealing, lying, general delinquency and of course weapon based fighting. But really parents! what did you expect?.

The classic of course being the UK having a heavily cut version of the film to avoid the showing nunchaku violence, the fact the entire franchise was renamed 'Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles' and they cut the finale scene with Shredder. Germany also included cartoon sound effects to lessen the impact of the fighting, pfft! these Euro countries huh.

Myself I enjoyed this film back in the day and I still do today. I loved how the film is dark and gloomy in places, its still highly childish and dumb naturally but the essence is quite a fine line. The sequence where 'Raph' loses it after 'Splinter' is taken is actually quite scary for kids I think, a very dark moment. In fact most scenes with Raph are quite edgy really, for a kids film, I always wanted him to swear haha. The fight sequences are pretty neat and do show the actors performing some decent moves in the suits...something you don't really expect seeing how bulky they look. Of course you never see anything nasty, its all quite tame and more in line with the cartoon but its still fun.

This made possible in my opinion by a few factors. Firstly the entire film has a darkish gritty look about it, the picture quality isn't polished and shiny like some big franchises, this could be down to the fact the film was an independent film. I don't think this was intended, its just one of those happy/lucky mistakes, although the lighting is dim throughout. Secondly the Turtle suits are very good and very different from the later more kiddie friendly suits. The colour scheme is darker, the eyes are smaller, in general the faces/masks just looks slightly meaner. The later suits were brighter and with much bigger eyes (Disney eyes).

Thirdly the weapons all looked pretty realistic too, if you get a look at them, they don't look like rubber n plastic, they look surprisingly good. As mentioned the actors all move nicely within the suits too, no restrictions it seems. Fourthly I think the main villain is played brilliantly by Saito. He goes at it for real, not a hint of ham or hokeyness, he plays Shredder as if he were a real crime lord and a complete bastard. True he doesn't actually do anything accept growl all the time...'TURTLES!!!', but its the way he does it, the dude owned this role. Oh and his outfit looked sweet too, you'd think it would look cheesy but it fudging rocks!.

lastly I give kudos to the voice actors who really brought the characters to life. Never really liked the voice for Raph gotta be honest, he sounds like he's slow or something. The other three are great, really got into the Turtles vibe and made you believe, especially liked Corey Feldman contribution for 'Donatello', the guy was born to be that characters voice. In fact the whole cast does well in this film in all honesty, everyone plays it for real (to a degree) and thusly the film doesn't come across like a dumb kids film. Koteas goes a bit far in places, clearly enjoying himself, but its fun to watch him.

Its hard to say but this film is a bit of a classic now, a cult classic. The first and easily the best Turtles film but also a film that played out well for adults too, a film with giant rubber ninja turtle suits!. It helps that Jim Henson was the creative team behind the suits. The film ends on a bit of a damp spot in all fairness, anti climax really, but that doesn't hinder the overall experience. Hell even the rap song in the end credits was massive!, Turtle power baby!.
September 5, 2013

Super Reviewer

Growing up as a kid, I had two obsessions: Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And of these two, the latter practically consumed me for the first five years of my life. I had countless TMNT toys and would spend hours playing and making up my own adventures. When I discovered the show and the movies, well let's just say the hours I spent not playing with my TMNT toys were spent watching TMNT. Twenty years later, I'm all grown up, but I still look back on the heroes in a half shell with a nostalgic admiration. And I'll even defend this first live action movie as a legitimately good film. The costumes are remarkably well done, from the design to the people underneath the turtle suits. The action is lots of fun while not being too overly violent. Shredder is as much a badass here as he is in the cartoons, and even for an 80s film the story is well told and relevant.
The Turtles have always had underlying themes of family and brotherhood. Possessing excellent martial arts skills, they fight only in self defense and to help those who can't fight for themselves. Beyond that, the Turtles are very much like kids, having much to learn about life and looking up to a mentor and role model in their Master, Splinter. I think the whole idea lends itself well to kids because there is so much that they can relate to, especially if they come from broken or single family homes. This film really confronts this kind of subject matter by showing a lot of homeless runaway teens, some no more than 8 years old, finding solace in the wrong place due to a lack of guidance and parents but nevertheless being tempted by the notion of belonging to a family. Even among the comedy, silly Turtle antics, and Elias Koteas' amazing performance as Casey Jones, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a lot of heart.
It bugs me that so many parents were outraged by the dark tone of this film. Its story allows kids to escape from reality while confronting some of the harsher aspects of it. I would have loved to see more films like this one rather than Turtles in Time or Vanilla Ice's Ninja Rap.
March 5, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Leonardo: Awesome!!!
    2. Michaelangelo: Righteous!!!
    3. Donatello: Bosa Nova!!!
    4. Michaelangelo: Bosa Nova?
    5. Donatello: Chevy Nova? . . . . . Excellent!!!!!
    – Submitted by Joe N (2 months ago)
    1. Donatello/Foot Messenger: You're a claustrophobic!
    2. Casey Jones: I never even looked at another guy!
    – Submitted by Justin O (4 months ago)
    1. Donatello/Foot Messenger: Good thing these guys aren't lumberjacks!
    2. Michelangelo/Pizza Man: The only thing safe in the woods would be the trees!
    – Submitted by Justin O (4 months ago)
    1. Michaelangelo: Just ninja-kick the damn rabbit!
    – Submitted by Chris R (15 months ago)
    1. April O'Neil: I have neighbor's that live about 4 miles away, I need to get to a phone, and I need to call my boss.
    2. Casey Jones: You mean Charles?
    3. April O'Neil: How did you know that?
    4. Casey Jones: Well he left on your machine just before we got out.
    5. April O'Neil: And?
    6. Casey Jones: Well hey! you just saved yourself an 8-mile round trip! Um, you were fired.
    – Submitted by Joe N (16 months ago)
    1. Chief Stearns: Are you trying to tell me how to do my job!!
    – Submitted by Jacob H (24 months ago)
View all quotes (17)

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