Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is a 1993 American action comedy film based on the comic book characters the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is the second sequel to the 1990 live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. It was produced by Clearwater Holdings Ltd. and Golden Harvest. This was the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film released by New Line Cinema and released on VHS along with Columbia TriStar Home Video. It was internationally distributed by 20th Century Fox. With this film, the All Effects Company provided the animatronics, rather than Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which acted as the providers for the previous films.
The Angry Video Game Nerd actually reviewed this movie, calling it "it's so bad, it's bad".
In feudal Japan 1593 (Late Sengoku period) a young man is being chased by four samurai on horseback. As they go into the woods, a mysterious woman emerges from the underbrush and watches closely. However, the samurai eventually capture and take the man, revealed to be a prince named Kenshin, with them.
In the present, April O'Neil has been shopping at the flea market in preparation for her upcoming vacation. She brings her friends gifts to cheer them up. Michelangelo is given an old lamp (the lampshade of which he wears as an impression of "Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii"), Donatello is given a broken radio to fix, Leonardo is given a book on swords and Raphael is to receive a fedora, but having stormed off earlier, he is never formally given it. For Splinter, she brings an ancient Japanese scepter. Back in the past, Kenshin is being scolded at by his father, Lord Norinaga, for disgracing their family name, but Kenshin argues that his father's desire for war is the true disgrace. Their argument is interrupted by Captain Walker, an English trader who has come to supply Norinaga with added manpower and firearms, and Kenshin leaves his father's presence to brood alone in a temple. There, he finds the same scepter and reads the inscription: "Open Wide the Gates of Time".
In the present, April is looking at the scepter and it begins to light up. She is then sent back in time, while Kenshin takes her place; each wears what the other did. Upon arrival, April is accused of being a witch, but Walker deduces she has no power and has April put in prison to suffer. Back in the present, Kenshin is highly distressed upon seeing the turtles and calls them "kappa". After learning from Kenshin of the situation, the turtles decide to go back in time to get April. However, according to Donatello's calculations; they have to do it within 60 hours, otherwise the scepter's power will disappear due to the space-time continuum being out of sync. They bring in Casey Jones to watch over the lair and use the scepter to warp through time. When doing so, the turtles are replaced by four of Norinaga's Honor Guards and are confused at their new surroundings.
Back in time, the turtles awake on horseback and make a poor show of riding their steeds. During the confusion, Mikey (who is carrying the scepter) ends up riding off alone into the forest and gets ambushed by an unknown assailant. The others go to search for April at Norinaga's palace, where their identity as Honor Guards allows them cover in their search. After following one of Walker's goons into the prison, the turtles rescue April and also free another prisoner named Whit (locked up for trying to start a mutiny against Walker, and who bears a striking resemblance to Casey), but their sloppy escape ends up leaving them all alone in the wilderness and without a clue where to go. Meanwhile, in the present, Kenshin is getting impatient and anticipates a fight from Casey. Casey instead introduces him and the Honor Guards to television hockey, which manages to calm them down for the time being.
Out in the woods, the turtles, April, and Whit are again attacked, this time by villagers mistaking them for Norinaga's forces. The attack stops when Mitsu, leader of the rebellion against Lord Norinaga, unmasks Raphael and sees that he looks just like one of her prisoners. The turtles realize that she is talking about Mikey and accompany Mitsu to her village. When they arrive, the village is being burned down by Walker's men. As the turtles help the villagers save it, Mikey is let out by a pair of clueless soldiers and joins in the fight. Walker is forced to retreat, but the fire continues to burn and has trapped a young boy named Yoshi inside a house. Michelangelo saves Yoshi from the fire, then Leonardo helps him recover by performing CPR.
As Walker continues bargaining with Lord Norinaga over buying guns in exchange for gold, the turtles spend some time in the village. Donatello decides to have a replica scepter made so they can get back home, while Michelangelo teaches some of the people about pizza and later tries to console Mitsu about Kenshin, whom she is in love with. Raphael also gets in touch with his sensitive side through the child Yoshi, ironically being the one who teaches Yoshi on how to control his temper. Back in the present, the Honor Guards from the past are quickly adjusting to life in the 20th Century, and Casey decides to challenge them to a hockey game. To Casey's dismay, the Honor Guards think hockey is about beating up each other. Meanwhile, Kenshin and Splinter show fear that the ninja turtles will not return home in time.
In the past, the replica scepter is completed, but an argument between Michelangelo and Raphael ends up breaking it. To make matters worse, Mitsu informs them that Lord Norinaga has agreed to purchase Walker's guns and will attack the village in the morning. When Raphael sneaks off to visit Yoshi, however, he is surprised to find the original scepter in the child's possession. The turtles are overjoyed to see it but are angry at Mitsu for hiding it and essentially forcing them to fight her war, however, Mitsu's grandfather clarifies that it was his idea to have the turtles fight in her place.
Suddenly, Whit betrays everybody and captures Mitsu, and the turtles return to Norinaga's palace to save her. After rescuing her, they are cornered by Norinaga and are made to fight waves of his soldiers. The turtles respond by freeing the prisoners in the palace, starting an all-out war on the palace grounds. After a while of fighting, Leo defeats Lord Norinaga in a heated sword duel, comedically finishing him by cutting his hair and then trapping him inside of a bell. Deciding to cut his losses, Captain Walker takes the scepter and tries to escape in a nearby boat. When cornered by the turtles at the dock, Walker throws the scepter into the air as a distraction. The turtles manage to catch the scepter, and Walker dies when Whit uses a catapult to knock him off the dock and into the waters below.
The turtles are now ready to return to their own time, but Mikey says he'd rather stay (in particular because he wanted to be with Mitsu). Raphael decides he wants to stay as well because he feels like the Turtles are appreciated in Japan unlike back home. The other turtles and April try to convince them otherwise until Kenshin activates the scepter and makes the decision harder. After a long debate (which included Mitsu telling Mikey to keep his promise about Kenshin returning to the past), Michelangelo reluctantly agrees to go home with his brothers, but just barely misses grabbing the scepter in time. The Honor Guards switch back with the Turtles (all except for Michelangelo). Fortunately, the last remaining Honor Guard activates the scepter and swaps places with Mikey just before the scepter burns out.
In the past, Norinaga admits surrender to Mitsu and Kenshin, and the two lovers share a tender reunion. Michaelangelo, meanwhile, is depressed over the thought of growing up, but Splinter cheers him up by performing the "lampshade Elvis" impression, and the rest of the turtles join in with a final dance number.
Why it Sucks
- Poor animatronics that makes the Turtles talk like sock puppets. Master Splinter looks even worse due to him always being shown from the waist and it's incredibly obvious that he's a puppet.
- The movie feels like an average samurai film, but with the Turtles dropped into it.
- Awful voice acting.
- Awful editing. In the climatic scene where Walker falls to his death, he implodes before he even hits the water.
- Michelangelo is sidelined for most of the movie.
- Only 3 fight scenes. Out of all 3, the last fight scene is the only one where Michelangelo is present. This made AVGN extremely angry, because Michelangelo was his favorite turtle.
- Contrived coincidences, such as April meeting both Casey Jones' and Splinter's ancestors at the same time.
- Pathetic and dated jokes. The AVGN actually made a "Top 10 Worst Lines" list during his review of the movie. Ranked at #1 was "Help! I'm a turtle and I can't get up!".
- There are no villains from the show present in the movie. Just a evil Japanese shogun named Lord Norinaga and an English soldier named Captain Walker. They had lots of villains to choose from, so why did they have to shoehorn in time travel to make a generic villain?!
- Some home-video releases of the movie have the film subtitle "Turtles in Time". However, it was only used as a video game title for the second arcade game and the fourth SNES game.
- Several plot holes in the story, including that the Japanese villagers somehow understand the English language, but the Honor Guards don't in 1593 (Japan didn't make contact with the Western world until the Meiji Dynasty (1868-1912).
- There is very little original music in this movie's soundtrack, as it reuses music from the previous two movies, including "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora, "Can't Stop Rockin'" by ZZ Top and "Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme.
- Unlike the first two films which built up the appearance of the Turtles, here they just enter the picture dancing to a really stupid song.
- Sometimes, the film is funny how bad it is.