The new episode is a time travel yarn in which the four shell shocked heroes and their pal, reporter April O’Neil (Paige Turco), switch places with five 17th century samurai warriors.
This is all effected with questionable scientific aplomb and a device that resembles a vintage street lamp.
In feudal Japan they become embroiled in a supposedly fierce struggle between two dynasties.
Lord Norinaga (Sab Shimono) seeks to quash the rebel faction led by Mitsu (Vivian Wu) by enlisting the aid of the English mercenary and gunrunner Walker (Stuart Wilson).
Somewhere in the subplot is a “Romeo and Juliet” thread involving Mitsu and Kenshin (Henry Hayashi), Norinaga’s son. However, as he’s been transported to the modern-day turtle lair beneath the IRT, it’s dramatically remote and thin. Also negligible is April’s involvement with Whit (Elias Koteas), a castoff from Walker’s crew who is the spitting image of NYC’s Casey Jones (also Koteas).
Writer/director Stuart Gillard inappropriately paces the action at tortoise speed, creating a high-budget, elongated Saturday morning kids show.
There are intriguing bits of whimsy such as the Asian warrior’s absorption into Manhattan’s hip-hop scene. But rather than being a part of the fabric, these emerge as not very amusing gags.
Virtually every department fires wide. The music is overbearing, the camera and lighting too bright and obvious, and the production design borders on the cheesy. Performances range from competent to just plain embarrassing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III the Turtles Are Back ... in Time
(Children's fantasy -- Color)
A New Line Cinema release of a Golden Harvest production in association with Gary Propper. Produced by Thomas Gray, Kim Dawson, David Chan. Executive producer, Raymond Chow. Co-producer, Terry Morse. Writer/director, Stuart Gillard. Based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
Camera (Technicolor), David Gurfinkel; second unit photography, Rexford Metz; editors, William Gordean, James Symons; music, John Du Prez; production design, Roy Forge Smith; art direction, Mayne Schuyler Berke; set decorator, Ronald Reiss; costume design, Christine Heinz; sound (Dolby), Larry Kemp, Lon E. Bender; associate producer, Roberta Chow; assistant director, creature effects by All Effects Co.; special visual effects created by Perpetual Motion Pictures; visual effects supervisor, Jeffrey Okun; martial arts choreographer and stunt coordinator, Pat Johnson; second unit camera, Rexford Metz. Reviewed at the Beverly Connection, L.A., March 18, 1993. MPAA rating: PG. Running time: 95 min.
Casey Jones/Whit ... Elias Koteas
April O'Neil ... Paige Turco
Walker ... Stuart Walker
Mitsu ... Vivian Wu
Lord Norinaga ... Sab Shimono
Leonardo ... Mark Caso
Raphael ... Matt Hill
Donatello ... Jim Raposa
Michelangelo ... David Fraser
Splinter ... James Murray
Kenshin ... Henry Hayashi
Niles ... John Aylward
Yoshi ... Travis Moon
Grandfather ... Tad Horino
Jailer ... Glen Chin
Bow-wowabunga! The third installment of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," subtitled "The Turtles Are Back ... in Time," is a decided case of diminishing returns. On a story and craft level it borders on the unforgivably bad, and were it the first in the series, pic might be remembered as the indie sector's "Howard the Duck." As it stands, the sequel has the definite asset of goodwill toward earlier outings and should open reasonably strong, though subsequent business will evaporate quickly.