Before Loki would obliterate the sacred timeline, there was a band of pizza-loving turtles teaching us the time-travel lesson that Loki should have heeded in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the heroes in a half-shell, Turtles Forever brings together the Turtles of the original comic, the 1987 television series, and the then-current incarnation (lasting from 2003 to 2009) in one massive multiverse event.
There’s a lot to unpack here. While relaxing in their sewer lair and engaged in pizza-based hijinks, Master Splinter (Darren Dunstan) barges in, demanding to know why Leonardo (Michael Sinterniklaas), Donatello (Sam Riegel), Raphael (Gregory Abbey), and Michaelangelo (Wayne Grayson) exposed themselves in a fight with the Purple Dragons on live television. Declaring that it isn’t them, they head out to investigate these potential imposters only to find that these radical dudes are from the 1987 television series. But, of course, they don’t call themselves that but reveal they are from an alternate timeline thrown into 2003 by 1987 Shredder (Load Williams) and Krang (Braford Cameron) in a device known as the Technodome.
It doesn’t take long before the 1987 Shredder and Krang attempt to find the 2003 versions of themselves. While doing so, they come across Ch’rell, the Utrom Shredder (Scott Rayow). The Utrom Shredder is the evilest of them. So much so that he was frozen/imprisoned on an icy asteroid. Their attempts to free him bring his adopted daughter, Karai (Karen Neil), out of hiding. She hijacks the Techodome on behalf of Utrom Shredder and the Footclan.
“…brings together the Turtles of the original comic, the 1987 television series, and the then-current incarnation…”
Ultimately, Utrom Shredder decides that he’ll take both Shredders and Krangs back in time to destroy the prime version of the Turtles (from the 1984 comic). Thusly, all incarnations of the Turtles will be gone forever, but this has dire implications on the existence of the universe itself. The story ends with a massive battle between twelve Turtles and various sets of their most iconic nemeses.
Having seen TMNT: Turtles Forever for the first time now, I feel that this film was probably much cooler upon its release in 2009 than today. In other words, the movie is incredibly dated. My first issue was that the animation was standard limited animation of the time. No attempt was made to elevate the animation in order to declare and demark this as a special event. Second, none of the original voice actors from 1987 returned, so much of the nostalgia is lost from the start.
Third, there are subtle differences between the 1987 and the 2003 Turtles, but only in that, the 1987 crew is a little more mature than their 2003 counterparts. Our core heroes have very distinct personalities. Now add three different versions of each character. So we have twelve separate but similar people. Their personalities started getting too muddy and indistinct, and I became disconnected from all twelve. Though, I do like the fact that the 1984 comic versions are a darker crew tone-wise.
Considering that TMNT: Turtles Forever celebrates 25 years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its long-lasting legacy, plus it serves as the finale of the 2003 series, the film feels more like a three-part finale of a television show than a major event or celebration. This was my issue with the Transformers animated movie. It really should have been more than what it was and treated like something special, considering it would be the last iteration of the Turtles on television for a very long time.
"…much of the nostalgia is lost from the start."