10 Reasons Why the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie will always be the best.

by Tessa

Hey dudes. I don’t have a book review today. I’d like to take some of your time to address a Topic in Classic Teen Movies.

Michael Bay recently told TMNT fans to “take a breath and chill” about his plans to do a new take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… mythology(?).  (If you haven’t heard the newest rumors, he’s changing the title to “Ninja Turtles” and making them into aliens and not mutants).

I’m chill, Michael.  I’m just going to calmly point out why your movie will probably never top the 1990 version. For me. Based on your track record as a director.  Just a calm personal assessment of my tastes vs. your perceived tastes.


CGI may be cheaper, but it’s harder to give it any soul.  Jim Henson rules. Case closed.  I don’t think M. Bay’s turtles will give us a more fun or realistic moment than this dance:

2. Rad and Funky Soundtrack (reminiscent of Labyrinth in some places)

including terrible rapping over the end credits (it’s by Partners in Kryme)

Nowadays, movies have innocuous composed scores with moneymaking “soundtracks” featuring songs that never even get into the movie, except for one blustering, sounds-like-everything-else rock song that plays over the credits.  Where did all the funky synthesized horn sections go?  The made-to-order raps? The first time I really noticed this was the Nickelback song on the end of the Spiderman movie.

3. Normal “hot” April, not Megan Fox April

Hey look! April looks her age. She looks like she shops for clothes and hair products on the budget of a news anchor from a lower-tier station. She’s relatable. She’s sort of goofy.

We all know what Michael Bay thinks leading ladies should look like.  He’s interested in creating extreme worlds filled with only the most beautiful people.

hence Megan Fox & the model with 2 last names, and Kate Beckinsale in Pearl Harbor, etc. etc.

4. Romantic interest is kind of assholey libertarian guy in sweatpants

At one point Casey Jones mistakes “claustrophobic” for “homosexual” and gets offended.  It’s so stupid. Why did I have a crush on him as a kid? I guess I’m just into long hair.

This is probably not too far from a current Michael Bay romantic lead. But I think Casey Jones is more authentic of a character. Because I’m being contrarian. He’s a guy who’s into vigilante justice and thinks his misogyny is just good gentlemanly manners.  He never stops wearing sweatpants. Never.

5. Enemy wears sparkly pants

Speaking of pants.  Shredder rocks the glitter.  Shredder will probably be all molded rubber a la Batman or futuristic Teflon/plastic armor.  Sparkly polyester spandex is much more practical for being a ninja.  It also shows that he’s confident with his self-presentation because real men can wear anything and still be vengeful tyrants whose plan to rule the NYC black market involves being the mob boss of a bunch of teenage hooligans.

6. Tiny animated turtle saying “RADICAL RADICAL RADICAL”

self-explanatory.  This will definitely not be part of the origin sequence for the new Ninja Turtles because it is not serious or corny. It is pure joy.

7. Old NYC

I can see this place being dangerous, full of people living on the margins. A place where you can watch your TV on your fire escape and have it stolen out from under your nose. A place where mutant turtles live in the sewers and occasionally go to movies disguised only in fedoras and trench coats that barely cover their bulging green calf muscles.  The class divide is just roiling beneath the surface.

Today? Not so much. My new stereotypical view of New York City is that it’s full of rich people and no one is allowed to show art that is in any way made of cow dung.  Mutant Turtles would stand no chance here.

8. Sam Rockwell

Will Sam Rockwell be in the New Ninja Turtles movie? I guess it’s possible.  And he’s usually great in whatever he does.  But he won’t have the vital naivete and attitude of youth, like he does in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


9. Farm interlude with voiceover and terrible drawings

Do you think that for even one moment Michael Bay would stop an explosive spectacle of alien turtle action to have some downtime on an old farm:

where the characters can catch a break from their enemies and commune spiritually with their lost Rat Master through a campfire:

with unexpected voiceover narration by April who has decided to document everything earnestly-drawn colored pencil??


I feel sorry for the children of today because this was my favorite part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And they will not have such an interlude.

10. Fights where you can actually see what’s happening instead of first person shaky-cam fighting.

I’m so over shaky cam fighting. I’m looking at you, Hunger Games. Most directors these days seem to disagree with me, and Michael Bay is no different.  The action in Transformers was basically a CGI explosion of shaky silver and grey things rushing around.  I’d rather watch the classic Henson-created Turtles fight their way around old NYC, because I can actually see what’s going on when they fight.

All screenshots captured by me. More are here.



  1. tyron

     /  April 24, 2013

    why do you want a remake of the 1990’s movie why not a live action rated r version of the mirage comic tmnt as a movie. the 1990’s movie used its plots and scenes from the comics and mixed it with the damn cartoon.

  2. Ben

     /  April 22, 2013

    I say wait and give the movie a chance. It probably won’t be as great as the original that we are all so fond of but I’ll wait to see it before I judge it. Also, just so you know, they’ve switched the title back to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (instead of just Ninja Turtles) and I also heard the “alien” explanation is that whatever turns them into mutants will be of alien origin, not the turtles themselves.

  3. Sebastian Villegas

     /  April 22, 2013

    I have to question your research given that Bay is not the director of the new film. That task is given to Jonathan Liebsman who directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and Battle: LA.

    Look up the facts next time and for the record, villains who glitter are not intimidating.

    • Honestly, research could be a misleading term. When I wrote this almost a year ago, there were fairly mainstream rumors about Bay making the movie, so that’s what I used as a frame to blog about why I loved the 1990 version. Of course nothing is set in stone til the new movie is in the theaters. As for glitter, that’s probably a matter of opinion. Thanks for reading!

  4. I agree with these points. I would also like to add that it got the tone just right. It mixed the darker elements of the comics with the funnier pieces from the TV show in a perfect way.

    “Forgiveness is divine but never pay full price for late pizza” I love that line.

  5. Aaron Jackson

     /  April 21, 2013

    Nearly a year it took me to find this. Thank the Turtle-Gods for the TMNT movie page posting this on Facebook. This was one of the greatest comic-movies ever to grave the screen. Why is it great? Because it doesn’t try to be. It tells the story of a bunch of teenage brother that miss their dad and want to find him. Almost every time I watch it, I find myself forgetting it’s guys in suits and not actually giant turtles. The dialogue is punchy, and even when the story line is ridiculous, it’s so lovable and sincere that it’s awesome. This is easily the greatest breakdown of the movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s author gets a high-three and a “Cowabunga” from me!
    T-U-R-T-L-E Power!
    (hahaha! I made a funny! hahah!)

    • Aaron Jackson

       /  April 21, 2013

      Just to be clear…I meant “grace” the screen…stupid “c” and “v” keys are too close together…

    • I just re-watched it in a real movie theater on Saturday and could not agree more. Thanks for commenting!

  6. derek

     /  April 21, 2013

    Very funny and very very true. thanks so much for writing this I enjoyed it immensely!

    Michael Bay’s best shot would be to lean on the plot of the original 1987 animated series. the Technodrome, Krang, bebop/ rock steady, storyline is so great. and perfect for today. Mutant pizza monsters! ah! there’s so much greatness available to harvest for a reboot film franchise. Sadly it’s just as you said, he’ll try and make it another transformers film where the turtles take a backseat to the romance between megan fox and the entire city of new york

    • yes! I’d totally watch a movie about mutant pizza monsters. as long as michael bay did not direct it. thank you for reading!

  7. TV's Adam

     /  July 14, 2012

    How am I just finding this now? This is the best thing.


  8. Yes. Yes to heart and to coherent action. I am also looking at you, Hunger Games (at least until I throw up).

  9. God, I *clearly* need to watch this again!

  10. Jim

     /  May 9, 2012

    Very funny

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