This wiki has been closed following a Request for Comments. Please see this page for more information.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

From Awful Movies Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III poster.jpg
"Whoa, dudes! This film's like a total bummer!"
Genre: Comedy
Martial Arts
Directed By: Stuart Gillard
Produced By: David Chan
Kim Dawson
Thomas K. Gray
Written By: Stuart Gillard
Based On: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Starring: Brian Tochi
Corey Feldman
Tim Kelleher
Robbie Rist
Paige Turco
Elias Koteas
James Murray
Stuart Wilson
John Aylward
Saburo Shimono
Vivian Wu
Cinematography: David Gurfinkel
Distributed By: New Line Cinema (United States)
20th Century Fox (International)
Release Date: March 19, 1993
Runtime: 96 minutes
Country: United States
Hong Kong
Language: English
Budget: $17 million
Box Office: $42.2 million
Prequel: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
Sequel: TMNT IV (cancelled)
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation

"Now Turtles III, it just makes me feel embarrassed. Like, watching it actually makes me cringe. I feel like I have to turn the volume down, and face the TV toward the wall and watch in a dark corner, somewhere where nobody will ever know. It just leaves you with a bad, bad feeling, like, this movie should not exist."
The Angry Video Game Nerd

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (also known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time) 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 "so bad, it's bad".


In 16th century feudal Japan (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 awaken 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 to 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 the 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 everyone 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 in time.

In the past, Norinaga surrenders to Mitsu and Kenshin, and the two lovers share a tender reunion. Michelangelo, 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 Doesn't Go Cowabunga

  1. It is a very "fish out of water" type of movie, with the Turtles spending much of the film in 16th century Japan, a premise better suited for a TV series arc than a theatrical film.
  2. The movie feels like an unoriginal, yet predictable filler story and an average samurai film, but with the Turtles shoehorned into it.
  3. No connection to the previous 2 films.
  4. Poor animatronics that makes the Turtles talk like sock puppets. Master Splinter looks even worse, due to him always being shown from the waist-up and it's incredibly obvious that he's a puppet, possibly due to budget constraints.
    • Making matters worse, the animatronics are done by a completely different company called All Effects instead of Jim Henson's Creature Shop, who provided the animatronics in the first two movies.
  5. Awful voice acting, especially in the case of Raphael, whose original voice actor didn't return for this movie. Their dialogue really doesn't help matters.
  6. Lazy writing about time traveling for unknown reasons, compared to the first two films.
  7. There are no villains from the show or comic present in the movie, just an evil Japanese shogun named Lord Norinaga and an English soldier named Captain Walker, who are forgettable, weak, and unoriginal.
    • Norinaga's character was a missed opportunity for him to be Shredder's ancestor, or serving as a henchman to Shredder's ancestor, like Tatsu in the first two movies. Also, Shredder wasn't even mentioned once.
    • Walker, on the other hand, feels very mismatched and out-of-place in a feudal Japan setting.
  8. Michelangelo is sidelined for most of the movie and, out of three fight scenes in total, he only shows up in the last one.
  9. The soundtrack is way too generic and doesn't even fit in the Japanese setting.
  10. Contrived coincidences, such as April meeting both Casey Jones' and Splinter's ancestors at the same time. To make things even worse and stupider, she called Casey Jones' ancestor "Casey", expecting him to reply back.
  11. 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!". The main running gag is "Wet Willy Time!", where the Turtles give a wet willy to Walker's right-hand man Niles.
    • Speaking of bad jokes, there are also numerous ridiculous pop culture references thrown in that are supposed to get a laugh out of the audience, but instead ended up doing the opposite. In a similar vain as Doogal (which was ironically, released 13 years after this film). Some examples include:
      • "It's Star Trek time, guys!"
      • "Here they are, the three stooges! Yeah, Larry, Curly, and Moe!"
      • "What if we make like a cosmic U-turn and end up back in Godzilla land?"
      • "Hey you were expecting maybe, uh, the Addams Family?"
  12. 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 game for the SNES.
  13. Several plotholes in the story, including the fact the Japanese villagers in 1593 are somehow able to understand the English language, yet the Honor Guards aren't (Japan didn't make contact with the Western world until Commodore Matthew Perry's 1853 expedition). Donatello is actually about to explain this, but Raphael cuts him off.
  14. Unlike the first two films, which built up the appearance of the Turtles, they just enter the picture dancing to "Can't Stop Rockin'" by ZZ Top.
  15. The action scenes are also pretty weak and are filled with some very lame bits that was meant to tone down the violence so that it would be more family-friendly. This problem was also present in its predecessor, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, but it wasn't to the same extent like here.
  16. Awful editing. In the climactic scene where Walker falls to his death, there isn't any splash effects when he hits the water, which makes it look like he vanished in thin air.
  17. After being absent from the second film, Elias Koteas returns as Casey Jones, only to be given nothing to do except look after some misplaced Japanese people.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Some funny moments here and there, like Michelangelo trying to eat a hard pizza and then throwing it like a frisbee at Donatello.
  2. The songs used in this movie are pretty fun to listen to, like Tarzan Boy in the scene where Casey takes the four Feudal Japanese soldiers to a bar.
  3. They are also a few other funny moments with Casey teaching the Four Honor Guards about the present day lifestyle.
  4. There are some heartwarming moments, like Raphael acting like a big brother to Yoshi.
  5. With the exception of the Turtles themselves, some of the acting is pretty decent.
  6. Corey Feldman reprised his voice over role as Donatello.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III received much worse reviews than the first two movies. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 23% "rotten" rating with a consensus stating: "It's a case of one sequel too many for the heroes in a half-shell, with a tired time-travel plot gimmick failing to save the franchise from rapidly diminishing returns.".


  • The original working subtitle for this movie was "A Feudal Fable".
  • Some home video releases gave this movie the subtitle "Turtles in Time", which was also used by the second TMNT arcade game due to them having time-traveling elements (as mentioned above).