Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)


I’d be very hesitant to call “Turtle Power” the definitive history of the Ninja Turtles franchise since it’s only ninety minutes, covers only the nineties portion of the series history, and feels like a glorified DVD extra, but all in all it’s still a worthwhile documentary. Director Randall Lobb composes an entertaining history of the series teeming with excellent nostalgia that chronicles the origins of TMNT from their introduction as an independent comic book, to their inevitable domination of the world in the eighties and nineties. “Turtle Power” definitely has some interesting tidbits and trivia about the franchise and the series in general, while the producers are slick to feature some of the 2014 TMNT posters in a few timeline graphics.

Much of the first half is devoted to the creation of Eastman and Laird’s original comic book, and their odd admittance that they created the comic just to kill time and have some fun. They never really planned to build an empire out of the series at any point, but the tide of the series eventually took on a life of its own. There’s also some fun factoids for folks unfamiliar with the original series, like the fact the series spoofed gritty comics, the origin of fan favorite Casey Jones and how he was inspired by the character Jack Burton from “Big Trouble In Little China.” There’s also emphasis on how the comic books and concepts of the series came together by coincidence and simply being at the right place at the right time. The second half feels a lot less impersonal, but is still an interesting look at the engineering of the hit toy line, the original plans for the action figures, and the creation of the hit animated series.

The segment where we get to interview the voices of the characters from the original eighties cartoon is way too short, but still fun to hear how they approached voicing the characters. The late James Avery also appears to discuss how he chose to adapt Shredder’s voice for the animated series. “Turtle Power” covers all the more memorable bases of the franchises history, from its creation, to the eventual over saturation, as well as the importance the series had on people all over the world. I really would have loved to see the more contemporary iterations of TMNT, but the documentary is really more of a love letter. There’s the hint that Eastman and Laird split up with rather bitter fall out, but it’s never explored any further than a final scene of the two signing comics, set to somber music, as the credits roll. While it’s not a definitive history, it’s still a thorough and entertaining look at the history of the heroes in a half shell and how they became icons.