Superhero Movie Month: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" Review

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

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Rating: PG
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: March 17, 1993
Directed by: Stuart Gillard
Genre: Action / Adventure / Comedy

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" is the third film in the "Ninja Turtles" movie series. In this film, the ninja turtles travel back in time to save their friend April. However, in a different time and place, the turtles face tougher enemies and have to adapt their fighting techniques to take on their foes.

Plot Summary

When "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II" ended, the team had just conquered its enemy and solved the mystery of the lethal ooze. The third installment opens with a scene set in feudal Japan in 1603. A young boy, a prince named Kenshin, is captured by Samurai warriors. The film then jumps to the present, showing April O'Neil buying gifts for her friends, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael.

After handing out most of the gifts, she begins to inspect one of the remaining presents, an ancient Japanese specter. Suddenly, the specter lights up, and April is transported back in time to 1603, taking the place of Kenshin. In turn, Kenshin is transported to the present day and takes April's place.

When Walker, an arms trader, sees April, he suspects she is a witch and throws her in jail. Meanwhile, Kenshin finds the ninja turtles and informs them that he has come from the past. Realizing what happened, the turtles transport themselves to 1603, posing as four guards. After fighting their way to the prison, they rescue April and another prisoner named Whit.

Alone in the wilderness, the group runs into Lord Norinaga, Kenshin's father, and his warriors. After an intense fight, Whit attempts to kill Mitsu, a woman warrior feuding with Lord Norinaga. The turtles intercept Whit and save Mitsu. After bringing her to safety, they realize that a young boy saved in the fight, Yoshi, has a scepter similar to the one that transported April back in time. However, Walker grabs the specter and intends to transport himself to escape the fighting. With time running out, the ninja turtles fight to regain control of the specter and return to their lives in the future.

Plot Construction

The plot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" is very complex and full of suspense. Throughout the film, alternating scenes from the present day and the past are shown. Although this helps to explain some of the opening scenes, this method makes the film slightly difficult to follow, especially for younger audience members. However, the time travel element also makes the film more exciting. The ninja turtles have only 60 hours to travel back in time to save April, because the spell cast by the specter is time sensitive. This facet of the plot makes the events very suspenseful, which makes the onscreen action more exciting to watch.

Additionally, there are multiple subplots that give the film depth. For example, the feud between Mitsu and Lord Norinaga provides a major obstacle to the turtles escaping the past. The deception of other characters, such as Whit and Walker, also delays the turtles' departure from ancient Japan. There are minor relationship struggles as a bond is forged between Michelangelo and Yoshi, and a prisoner name Mikey struggles to decide if he wants to live in the present with his new friends or the past with his family. Altogether, there is a lot going on in the plot that makes the film very fast-paced; however, at times the subplots detract from the main plot that is complex enough to stand on its own.


"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" features a long list of live actors and voice actors. Paige Turco again portrays April O'Neil. She strikes a great balance between showing her character as a helpless young woman unable to stop her imprisonment, yet strong enough to help the ninja turtles return to the future. Mark Caso, David Fraser, Jim Raposa and Matt Hill play the ninja turtles. All actors perform the various technical stunts featured throughout the film flawlessly. Although there are many new voice actors featured in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III," Brian Tochi and Robbie Rist return to voice Michelangelo and Leonardo.

Special Effects

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" greatly benefited from the success of the second installment in the "Ninja Turtles" series. The larger filming budget is evident in the special effects. The characters literally seem to disappear. In addition, a variety of special effects make the scenes from ancient Japan appear dated and authentic.

Although "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" has a complex plot full of complicated subplots that make it difficult to follow at times, this enhances the film and adds to the on-screen action. With a cast of capable characters, the fight scenes are more intense and exciting to watch. Overall, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" is a fun addition to the "Ninja Turtles" movie series.