"It seems like a marriage was made in heaven between Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest Films and Jim Henson’s Muppetry. The delightful offspring is a live-action romp based on Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s comic book characters, scripted by Todd W. Langen and Bobby Herbeck with the sort of goofy wit that suggests that Thomas Pynchon could have made pseudonymous contributions to the dialogue, and directed with skill and assurance by Steve Barron. The plot involves a TV investigative reporter (Judith Hoag), a rise in thievery in Manhattan occasioned by a teenage gang known as the Foot (masterminded and exploited by a ninja villain called the Shredder), and the noble adversaries of the thieves — four teenage turtles and their rat ninja master who dwell in the sewer system and reached their abnormal size through exposure to radioactivity. Also involved is the reporter’s son (Michael Turney), split between no less than three rival father figures, and an independent vigilante (Elias Koteas) who joins the turtles. The results are high-spirited martial arts and comedy, with heavy doses of Star Wars and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and music by M.C. Hammer, Johnny Kemp, Hi Tek 3, and Orchestra on the Half Shell. (Biograph, Burnham Plaza, Chicago Ridge, Forest Park, Golf Mill, Lincoln Village, Oakbrook Center, Orland Square, Water Tower, Grove, Woodfield, Ford City, Deerbrook, Evanston, Hyde Park, Norridge)"
"If you took out the goofy sound effects and ADRed jokes, you would have a movie on par with The Warriors, and whose dark, grimy vision of New York owes far more to films like Nighthawks and The Taking of Pelham 123 than it does the Turtles cartoon that this was clearly capitalizing on.
That said, for however out of place they are, the kid-friendly elements do not take away from what makes this movie work: the gritty atmosphere and the actually compelling story about family, fathers and sons, from Splinter and the Turtles to Shredder and his criminal organization of young boys.
A few additional notes:
Raphael’s anguished scream when he discovers that Splinter has been kidnapped is something that has lived in my head since I saw it as a kid, and watching it again as an adult, it is a real moment of the sorts you don’t really see in these kinds of movies anymore.
On a similar note, Judith Hoag and Elias Koteas have terrific chemistry as April O’Neill and Casey Jones. Hoag’s brassy performance really works for the character, and there is one moment between that is charged with more sexual energy than you’ll likely ever see in a modern superhero movie."