TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 3, 1993
Starring: Corey Feldman, Brian Tochi, Robbie Rist, Tim Kelleher and Paige Turco.
Third part of the highly successful Ninja Turtles movies sees the ninja turtles travelling back in time to feudal Japan where they must save April and defeat some evil Samurai
The third part in a series is always going to have it tuff, competing with the two previous films which were awesome. You just know it’s not going to go well. So there’ll be no surprises then that ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time’ (as it is occasionally subtitled) is not the best film on the market.
When I first saw this film in my young days I thought to myself, what could go wrong here? The combination of two of my great loves; time travel and the ninja turtles, how could this possibly fail! Well ‘TMNT III’ sure showed me. It’s almost an hour and three quarters of rubbish.
I’m pretty immature and I saw this film when I was about 13-14 and whilst watching it one of my first thoughts was, this is pretty childish. The other films in the franchise were greatly helped by Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop, making the Turtles look realistic. This version of the TMNT was just plain cheap looking.
Here is the plot, such as it is…. In feudal Japan a masked man fights four samurai on horseback; they defeat him as well as a mysterious woman who comes out of nowhere to help him. The samurai ride off with the masked man.
In present day Manhattan, where the Turtles are practising their ninja skills in their lair, an abandoned subway station. April O'Neil (Paige Turco), who has been shopping in preparation for her upcoming vacation, brings her friends gifts to cheer them up. Among those items is an ancient Japanese sceptre, which was supposed to be for Master Splinter. Back several centuries earlier, in feudal Japan the masked man turns out to be Kenshin (Henry Hyashi), son of the Daimyo Lord Norinaga (Sab Shimono).
Angry at his father's unfair war against a group of rebel villagers, Kenshin leaves his father's presence and drives priests out of a temple. There, he finds the same sceptre and reads the inscription on its handle: "Open Wide the Gates of Time", this is the same sceptre that April has bought in the 20th century. Before Kenshin leaves, a British weapons-trader called Walker (Stuart Wilson) is introduced, along with his brutish goon, Niles.
As the sceptre begins to emit strange lights, April and Kenshin are switched in their respective times exchanging clothes. Upon arrival, April is captured by the Daimyo's soldiers. Lord Norinaga blames her for his son's vanishing and sends her to the dungeons. The Turtles become friends with Kenshin and decide to travel back in time to retrieve April. They invite Casey Jones to watch over Splinter. According to Donatello's calculation that they have only 60 hours wherein to complete the rescue before the sceptre ceases to enable time travel due to the time-space continuum being out of sync. How he works this out is not explained, or possible or even in the end necessary as the sceptre gets destroyed at the end of the film, but I guess it fills some time. The Turtles arrive in Japan in exchange for Daimyo Norinaga's Honour Guards in the midst of a battle. Michelangelo is separated from his brothers and captured by outlaws and the sceptre goes with him.
And so we have another time travel film which employs the race against time plot device, always slightly odd in a time travel story. In this case the Turtles must rescue April and Mitsu, repair the sceptre (twice), defeat Walker and Norinaga and reunite Kenshin and Mitsu whilst at the same time bringing together Kenshin and his father. It’s a lot to do in 60 hours but somehow they do it whilst making lame jokes and having a side tale where Michelangelo falls in love with Mitsu. Call me specist but I just don’t think Japanese women should get into relationships with turtles.
I would say that this is one more for kids to watch, but I really don’t think kids would even be that into it. Maybe if they were under eight years old and incredibly well behaved. But I just don’t see any kid sitting through this whole film. Still if you are into the original version of the TMNT you probably should get it if for no other reason than to complete your trilogy set.