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Mitchell A. Lee Yuen,
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Max Elliott Slade
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Mutant Turtles: Choujin Densetsu hen (Superman Legend) is a two-part OVA series from Japan based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show. In the first episode entitled "Super Dai Pinchu... See full summary »
The four turtles travel back in time to the days of the legendary and deadly samurai in ancient Japan, where they train to perfect the art of becoming one. The turtles also assist a small village in an uprising. Written by
Its now middling between keeping and losing its audience
By the early 1990s, it was definite that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a bankable asset in the film and television industry. With their popularity soaring through the ceiling, along with the help of Vanilla Ice's one hit wonder Ninja-rap from the first sequel, it seemed as if nothing could stop them. That is, until this installment came along two years later. But how? What could possibly blow the tires out from under the turtle vehicle? Two words - time travel. More than likely this is what made people role their eyes and either walk out of the theater disappointed or avoid it altogether. You can only make a ridiculous but also fun concept only so preposterous. Pushing the limits could just make it unbearably silly and that's probably what happened here. Making things harder to weigh pros and cons is that for every plus, there seemed to be a minus to counter it.
After anticlimactically defeating The Shredder for the SECOND time in a row (the first being from the original), the quadruplet of turtles come across an ancient magic Japanese staff that is able to transport people to another time. When April (Paige Turco - from the previous film) is zapped into another time zone, the turtles jump in to rescue her. While rescuing her, they realize they play a much bigger part in the fate of another conflict. The conflict exists between one family at war under reasons that are not explained. This isn't a good start. Although according to sources that the writing contains material from the actual comics, what is set in motion in no way recognizes the mythological foundation that was set up in the last two predeceasing movies. Instead of normal turtles happening to randomly come in contact with toxic ooze, now their ancestors are legends, which were, recorded as a prophecy that helped end an ancient evil. OK really? This is getting far-fetched.
Stuart Gillard (mainly a TV director) directed and wrote the screenplay. Surprisingly, as much as the plot doesn't in anyway sound easily approachable or acceptable, Gillard tries to make this movie feel like the other films, although there a several changes. For one, Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) returns which is great, sadly is also underutilized. The actual character just hangs around Master Splinter while the turtles fight in another time zone. Come on! That's not to say Koteas isn't around however. Koteas plays another character in the other time zone but his other role is weakly defined and lacks any charm. The villain is another problem. Underrated actor Sab Shimono (Uncle, from Jackie Chan Adventures (2000)) plays the emperor at odds with his family. Along with him, he allies with a westerner named Walker (Stuart Wilson). Wilson is effective at being a bad guy but his showdown with the turtles AGAIN is anticlimactic. What is with these showdowns?
Speaking of showdowns, viewers may be surprised to see that the turtles actually revert back to using their iconic weapons again unlike the first sequel. That was nice, but the problem was that the action scenes felt too infrequent from the last time. Most of the time the turtles are just looking for someone. What gives? Gillard also tried keeping the snarky dialog and comedy from that of the first two films. At first, it seems the same but over time viewers will notice that almost every sentence that comes out of the main characters' mouths are references to other movies. This is an element that is too frequent through the running time. It just feels goofy, like none of the characters have original content to say. The sound effects also come across more like a cartoon than an action film.
Some of the practical effects looked better on our heroes for the third time. The facial features keep getting more detailed to create a more human expression, which works. What viewers may not expect though is that Splinter (like mentioned before with Casey Jones), just hangs around. He doesn't even move from the set he's first seen from. Making him look even more like a puppet is that he's always behind something. It kind of made it feel like Splinters entire body wasn't ready for filming. Lastly is the music by John Du Prez who composed the score to the first two movies. And although his music wasn't a classic orchestral score, it had a catchy main theme and worked. Here, Du Prez makes tracks appropriate to the Japanese setting but lacks the memorable main theme. I don't know, it got a number of things right but had enough flawed elements to counter it. The only thing I can say is I'm glad it didn't take place in space.
For its third outing it isn't terrible but it's no longer being consistent with the original elements that helped make the first one a hit and its sequel a moderate guilty pleasure. Plus, involving time travel wasn't the best idea.
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