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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)



Average Rating: 4.8/10
Reviews Counted: 39
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 22

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: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 4

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



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 249,383

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 (39) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (22) | DVD (4)

A dismal, tedious affair.

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

Scores with its generally engaging tongue-in-cheek humor.

April 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The results are high-spirited martial arts and comedy.

April 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is itself a mutant of sorts, a contentious, unsightly hybrid of martial-arts exploitation film and live-action cartoon.

July 1, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (3)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Between the dubbed dialogue and the dark visuals, the cumulative effect is curiously dislocating.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Parents can vaguely console themselves, however, that amid the kiddie pollution available on Saturday morning TV, the Turtles rank slightly better than the rest.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic 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

Not as good as the comic, but fun.

September 10, 2004
Juicy Cerebellum

Maintains an effective balance between the kiddie toon and the more subtle comics it was based on. Koteas is miscast, though.

June 29, 2004 | Comment (1)
New Times

A defeated shrug is in order for this revival of the 1990 craze for green amphibious warriors, schooled in Asian martial arts, named after Renaissance masters and addicted to pizza.

January 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Four pizza-loving turtles emerge from their shells to battle crime in this inexplicably successful kiddie flick, which now looks as dated as it is silly.

December 10, 2003 Full Review Source: BBC | Comment (1)

Let us not contemplate the sorts of lustful images that must run through the mind of a hormonal teen-age turtle.

November 29, 2003 Full Review Source:

Honestly, when I first saw the movie, I was probably around 8 years old, but the allure of the Ninja Turtles, while faded over the years, is still hard to deny. Not for all tastes by any means, it's decent enough.

August 20, 2003
Kansas City Star

Cowabunga!! Try making turtle soup out of these butt-kicking raucous reptiles. It's pure giddy excitement!

June 4, 2003

There is no excuse

November 5, 2002 | Comments (2)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

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

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!
June 1, 2013
KJ Proulx

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

Growing up as a kid, I used to be a huge fan of the cartoon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember when this film came out, I was very excited. What five year old wouldn't be? After re-watching this film a while back, I was disappointed. The film has aged very badly, and now I noticed all the faults that this film possessed. The film might have good back when it was first released, but it hasn't stood the test of time whatsoever. The acting, plot and directing are all bad. This is the type of film that was great as a kid, but when you watch it years later, you wonder why there's anything appealing about it. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a film that hasn't stood the test of time, and looking back, the film was way better back when I was a kid. This is a film that really can't be seen as a classic of your child because the film looks like crap now. Films like The Sandlot and Toy Story are still great because they were well made, and really haven't aged that bad either. But this one has, and it definitely looks dated and looks awful. The acting is terrible, the plot is bad, and the whole is silly. This is one of those films you look at years later, and you're like "what the hell did I love that for?" Well, the cartoon will always be a classic no matter what, it's just a shame that the film hasn't aged well, because when I was a kid, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But now, I saw the films faults, and there are too many to mention. Oh well, the cartoon is great.
October 17, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

    1. Donatello/Foot Messenger: You're a claustrophobic!
    2. Casey Jones: I never even looked at another guy!
    – Submitted by Justin O (25 days 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 (25 days ago)
    1. Michaelangelo: Just ninja-kick the damn rabbit!
    – Submitted by Chris R (11 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 (12 months ago)
    1. Chief Stearns: Are you trying to tell me how to do my job!!
    – Submitted by Jacob H (20 months ago)
    1. Casey Jones: Thats gonna cost ya Tinkerbell.
    – Submitted by Jacob H (20 months ago)
View all quotes (16)

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Foreign Titles

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) (DE)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (UK)
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