Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ★★★★

Image result for Teenage Mutant ninja turtles 1990 film stills

    The significance surrounding the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," a film that spawned a franchise of quite a durable stature, stems from its tendency to break away from the conventional superhero and provide a subject matter that is not only unique but somewhat more compelling. We are introduced to the rise of these four brothers through a scene that is entirely thespian (considering its on-stage lighting and feel), and yet, it worksnot because we are blown away by the monologue at hand, mind you, but because it is spoken by a wise-talking rat. And that's the beauty of its design.

    We cannot help but fall in love with these teenage turtles who spend most of their time below the bustling streets of New York City learning the art of Ninjutsu and ordering Dominos pizza. Their disparate personalities clash at times (much like most siblings), and they ultimately have a hard time obeying their father-like figure in Master Splinteranother complication that arises once adolescence transitions into adulthood. Throw in an antagonist from the past, a TV news reporter in April O' Neil (Judith Hoag), and the kidnapping of a family member, and you pretty much have a storyline that has become a staple in the "Turtles" cinematic universe.

    The finely crafted exteriors of the characters (provided by the wonderfully talented Jim Henson and Company) and an atmosphere that brims with authenticity, which, in part, is due to the plethora of stock characters that grace our presence, makes this film that much more memorable. The irate police chief, the overbearing news producer, and a taxi cab driver who, after coming into contact with the easily irritated Raphael, simply turns to his bewildered passenger and asks, "You going to La Guardia, right?" being most notable of the bunch.

    These personas not only enhance the setting, but they help the film achieve a sense of realism that is direly warranted. (I mean, our central characters are walking and talking reptiles, so it is only right that our filmmakers attempt to nail the customary, observable patrons of society.) This is surely not to mention a sequence where our lovable protagonists find refuge in the countrysidewhere the aesthetic beauty of the wilderness speaks for itself. 
Image result for Teenage Mutant ninja turtles 1990 film stills

    Although the design of our heroes' costumes has perceptible flaws, (most notably the head, which, at times, displays the actor's face within the costume through the opening of the mouth) the emphasis on a rather rustic and tattered look could not be more ideal. After all, they do live in a sewer, and although it is not uncommon for our mischievous protagonists to catch a flick every now and then above-ground, it would hardly be acceptable to see them roaming around the local mall in an effort to pick up fighting gear. Of all the directions in which their appearance could have gone, this is unquestionably the most practical and, to be quite honest, it is the most endearing.    

    If this particular rendition of our beloved "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" somehow made it back to the silver screen, I would guarantee that its allure would captivate the minds of any young child who has not come into contact with the franchise. I also believe that it would outshine the 2014 debacle of the same name, but that is beside the point.

    A brilliant execution of low-key lighting (which only adds to the film's dark and somber mood), an excellent display of action choreography, and a well-written dialogue infused with modest humor, all contribute to a film that simply should have failed, if for no other reason than for the poor outing from its resident human star in Hoag. (Her performance is quite substandard, and it seems to be relatively melodramatic in form.) 

    Nevertheless, what we have here is a picture that succeeded because of its universal theme of family (brought to our attention by way of our heroes' experience and a subplot involving O' Neil's boss and son) and because of several touching moments between these four brothers. It is the most sophisticated portrayal that one could ask for, and, unfortunately, it just becomes another reminder of how ingenuity has been replaced by technological advances, i.e., special effects. 

No comments:

Post a Comment