How Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III Could’ve Been Fixed

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has always been a staple of pop culture since its inception in the ‘80s. Riding the wave of success, the TMNT franchise went on to spawn cartoon series, movies, music and even video games. While later iterations of the franchise enjoyed more success, TMNT III for the most part was seen as a flop and a step back for the franchise. However, if the following changes were made, then TMNT III could’ve been saved from obscurity.

Fixing the Location
The TMNT films have always been synonymous with New York City. Actors in the movie had convincing New York accents, there were references to the 1986 hit movie ‘The Manhattan Project’ and classic landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty made their appearance. But with TMNT III, all of that changed as the film was set in 17th century Japan – Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo all time-traveled to the ancient country.

Not only was it seen as an odd fit for the franchise, but it made it hard to believe the narrative, given that no video game or movie had referenced the event in the past. Time-traveling to ancient Japan was an unnecessary risk that the producers of the movie decided to take and it failed.

Going with a classic New York setting would have been a much smarter move for the movie as there were a lot of potential stories to be told. From stories of crime and corruption to dealing with the Foot clan, a New York setting in TMNT III would have felt more familiar and appealing to the fans.

Fixing the Cast
No disrespect to the actors who starred in TMNT III, but the casting decisions in the movie were questionable at best. TMNT III had an all-new line-up of actors playing the beloved role of the turtles with only two voices reprising their roles.

This was an injustice to the original actors, most notably Paige Turco and Elias Koteas who had played April O’Neil and Casey Jones respectively in the previous films. They had a well-known chemistry with each other that was praised by the audience and bringing them back would’ve been a welcome sight.

Giving a nod to nostalgia and familiarity could have been a saving grace for the movie had they decided to go ahead with the original cast.

Fixing the CGI
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies have always been leaning into the use of CGI for their turtle characters. While CGI was never its strong suit, the CGI in TMNT III was particularly abysmal, to the point where many long-time fans of the series complained about it.

In an era where CGI technology is improving by leaps and bounds, it feels like TMNT III was stuck in the past. It should’ve been an easy task to create CGI that looked better than this, but it appears like the production team did not put much effort into it.

Fixing the Tone
The original TMNT cartoons usually tended towards a more light-hearted tone, with a good amount of comedy thrown in. But with TMNT III, it was a complete 180 as the tone was significantly darker and the humour was nowhere to be seen.

Doing a darker take on the franchise was seen as a daring move, but clearly the audience was not happy with the changes. It was an interesting direction to take, but it was not the right one for TMNT III as it just felt out of place. Bringing back the original light-hearted tone could have been a way to cater to a wider audience and also to retain the original spirit of the franchise.

Fixing the Plot
The time-travelling element to the movie coupled with its confusing plot made for a lackluster movie that was hard to understand. It was a far cry from the beloved episodes from the original animated series, where the main focus was on action and comedy.

The narrative could have been better if the team had gone with a more straightforward plot, one that would’ve been more familiar to the fans. It could’ve been a chance to reintroduce Shredder and the Foot Clan as the main antagonists, and also to bring back April O’Neil and Casey Jones in a ‘heroes come together’ timeslot.

While TMNT III was an ambitious movie, it ultimately failed to deliver on its promise and was seen as one of the worst movies in the series. The movie failed in almost all aspects and would’ve been better if the team behind it had gone with some of the changes mentioned here. From fixing the location and cast to improving CGI and the tone, there were a thousand and one ways that TMNT III could’ve been saved from its current state.

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