Turtle Power: Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Directed by Randall Lobb
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Jumping from the sewers of Eastman and Laird’s brains into the depths of people’s hearts, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been on a radical journey from black and white comics to the big screen to world tours to television and BACK to the silver screen! And as a huuugge fan of the Turtles from the 1980s-90s, I feel it’s my job as a nonsense blogger to give my review of this new documentary chronicling their storied history with in-depth interviews with the comic book creators, the toy dealers and the creative minds behind the cartoon and the super-successful first film! Ladies and beasts, here’s TURTLE POWER!
The best part about this undertaking is the massive focus on the creation of the Ninja Turtles. The doc utilizes interviews with creators Eastman and Laird as they recollect their days as fly-by-night comic artists and writers to multi-millionaires. The first issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was meant to be a one-shot, 40-pages in black and white; the authors even needed a loan to produce the first 3,000 prints. With influences from Frank Miller, Jack Kirby and Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, the Ninja Turtles started as lookalikes that parodied the mainstream comic books they were up against in!! No orange, red, blue or purple just yet, and Shredder, their most trained and dangerous adversary, dies in the end! IN ISSUE #1!! You don’t see that kind of storytelling risk anymore, do you? To Laird and Eastman’s surprise, this local comic book would mutate into a huge hit!
Turtle Power is chock full of great interviews, home videos, commercials, TV and movie clips, behind the scenes footage and much more. However, I feel 98 minutes isn’t nearly enough! Unfortunately, there isn’t much depth given to the second or third films, the live-action TV show from the late 90s (which I remember being terrible, but canon!), the post-2000 television series, the TMNT CGI film (still canon!) and the return to the big screen for 2014 (haven’t seen it yet, but I’m assuming non-canon. But Megan Fox is in it, so I’m there. With my nunchakus.). I remember some of the Ninja Turtle projects as total bombs, and with Michael Ian Black as Raphael during the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour, I thought for sure he’d take that project to the wood shed. Black must have had a good experience with it, though, since I detected no cynicism in his interview. Black’s recollections were humorous, though a little glossed over, in my opinion.
For a deeper look at its roots though, this flick is a must see! It focused on the early years, the creators and the folks behind the franchise’s success. Also, there wasn’t an annoying push to see the new film, making it a timeless piece for older TMNT fans. I hope a continuation of the Turtle history is coming soon, and I applaud Lobb and the Turtle Power team for such a well put-together endeavor. And a huge thank you to Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird for helping create a childhood I will never forget!
Trehern started blogging way back in 2006 and has addressed pop culture nonsense ever since. He travels the multiverse in an attempt to answer questions no one has ever really asked, and he's at times stubborn with dangerous delusions of grandeur. He also once won then quickly lost the Destigeddon World Heavyweight Championship. At PopCultureBeast.com, he writes TREHERN READS! He also hosts the 5Cast Podcast.