It was a phenomenon. An Independent film breaking box office records. A story that gave youth a team to cheer for.
Thirty years later Netflix has made it available for a trip down memory lane. I’ve seen this film three times in a cinema setting. Now at home I just cannot get through it without shaking my head every few minutes. So in the interest of creating interesting content, my reflective analysis shall proceed.
I’m not certain why I’m struggling to get through the film now. It’s a cult classic and represents a historic moment of cinematic history. TMNT was a cultural phenomena with a global reach. A comic book became a cartoon and was becoming a live-action film. It was good versus evil. You had a team to cheer for. The foot clan is portrayed as a cult where you need to graduate a few levels before they give you that oddball looking uniform with bug eyes on the masks. It gave some insight into how one became a member of such a prestige group of soldiers, guaranteed to be ass-kicked in the first fight against the 4 superheroes in shells. The place where the clan was headquartered looked like a fun clubhouse mentality. You could do anything and be yourself. At the same time, the plot was clear. In order to be part of this clubhouse you would have to commit crimes. This was your way of showing loyalty. The choice was then made easy. You cheered for the turtles.
TMNT in cartoon and comic format painted a classic heroes versus villains scenario. Wise Mentor Splinter is kidnapped and The movie adds more depth and a larger storyboard that kept young fans interested. The group’s Having Casey Jones as an integral part of the overall story brought more doses of adult-oriented humour. The story of each TMNT character narrated by April O’Neill did bring a nice break to the overall plot by giving each character it’s own scene of focus. The farmhouse was a perfect backdrop of recovery and reflection before the group returns to the city for the final showdown against Shredder.
It is impossible to ignore the cultural impact of TMNT. It continues to maintain a loyal fan base of collectors while acquiring newer fans. Early fans have introduced their children to the characters. It may have some silly moments you can roll your eyes at, but thirty years later this film is still discussed and healthily debated.