As I mentioned in my last column, I was pretty much disgusted by the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. If movies could hear, I would invoke the immortal words of Butt-Head and tell the 2014 TMNT movie, “You’re a miserable piece of crap.” I haven’t been that traumatized by a movie since Green Lantern (that one still haunts my dreams). Thankfully, the dreadfulness of the new TMNT movie was washed away by the delightful Turtles Forever. This made-for-TV movie is great for all kinds of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans, whether they love the original 1984 black-and-white comics, the goofy 1987 cartoon, or the surprisingly slick 2003 animated update. If you’re a fan of any or all of those incarnations of the Turtles then I highly recommend watching Turtles Forever.
Turtles Forever starts off in the 2003 setting, where the modern Turtles are surprised by the 1987 team. Due to some time traveling mayhem, the characters from the 1987 show are transported to the 2003 show. It’s fun watching them interact with each other. The 1987 is campy to the core; they excel at making silly jokes, breaking the fourth wall by talking to the audience, and defeating villains with trash cans. The 2003 Turtles are more serious and, aside from 2003 Michaelangelo, think the 1987 Turtles are a bunch of goofballs. The contrast between 1987 Shredder and 2003 Shredder is even greater. Those two should have an abusive comedy spin-off of Turtles Forever.
After some plot development and a brief visit to the 1987 world, the two Turtle teams head to 1984 to meet the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As a big, big fan of the comics, I marked out for this chapter in the story. The black-and-white art style was fantastically on point. I loved the overuse of dramatic lightning (a parody of Frank Miller’s style) and my inner fanboy swooned when dialogue from the original comics was used in Turtles Forever. Again, it was fun watching the 2003 and 1987 teams interact with the originals. There’s even a brief cameo by the original Shredder, which lasts about as long as his first appearance in the comics.
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is what happens when Michael Bay and his minions take something you loved in your childhood and try to update it in a misguided manner. It lacked the charm and sharpness of the comics and the first movie. It sucked the clever joy out of the source material (originally a parody of grim and gritty comics) and replaced it with lots of explosions. Turtles Forever does a much better job at blending old and new, because it literally takes the new, old, and older Turtles teams. While they’re blended into a single animated movie, each team is allowed to stand on their own and shine in their own unique way. Turtles Forever is vastly superior to the new TMNT movie and I’d love for you to check it out. Give it a watch and let me know what you think (please!).