Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) – Randall Lobb

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Back in the mid-80s, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created a huge pop culture touchstone for many of the children growing up in the 90s… four turtles, named for Renaissance artists, taught by an aged rat, living in the sewers, living off pizza, and fighting for justice against a cadre of menaces, with the help of a news reporter, and occasionally a vigilante with a sports fixation.

By the time the cartoon was created in the early 90s, I was well past the point of being the show’s target market, but that didn’t make me completely oblivious to these new heroes, in fact I had a trade paperback of some of the early comics, which were toned down for the television show, and more made to be more kid-friendly.

But both the comic and the series, and the subsequent movies found an audience, and a home in many people’s’ hearts, so much so that they actually outlived their predicted fail date. Most action figures have a cycle of three years, and the Turtles, much like the touchstone of my childhood, Star Wars, have endured.

They’ve been reinvented, reinvigorated, and are still going strong.

This documentary through home video, present day interviews, and video clips, gives a comprehensive look at the creation, and the subsequent phenomena that surrounded Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo.

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There are interviews with the cartoon series voice cast… I had no idea James Avery did the voice for Shredder!!! There are conversations with comic book store managers, including Toronto’s own Silver Snail! I love that store!

It’s amazing watching the way this creation has evolved, and while some of it has been commercialized, and aimed at kids the original stories are still out there, and in fact are continuing, in gorgeous black and white comics.

I thought perhaps that sometimes the film speeded over some things that I’d wished they’d spent more time on. It clocks in at 99 minutes, and honestly, I would have quite happily sat through another half an hour to learn more about the series, the comics, the movies, the creation of the Playmates toyline, all of it.

I found this one quite fascinating, because, as mentioned, this wasn’t my Star Wars, so I got to look at this one from the outside, though I totally admit to digging on the turtles, Donatello is the man! And it was due time, that someone put the time and attention due the subject matter to film, and shared what they learned with the legions of fans, both young and old the world round.

And it’s still going on!

There’s a new movie gearing up this summer, and you know that will be like a shot in the arm for all the merchandise, and books out there. So it looks like the turtles are here to stay.

Turtle Power is now available on Netflix, check it out!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Randall Lobb says:

    Thanks so much for your great review and, frankly, I agree with your criticism. It would have been great to make the doc longer, considering we have So. Much. Footage!

    1. TD Rideout says:

      Hey Randall, if you guys are based in T.O. We’d love to have you on our show to talk about your film!

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