Director: Randall Lobb
Writer: Randall Lobb
Stars: Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman, Mark Askwith
Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a definitive a history of the Heroes in the Half-Shells as you are going to get. This documentary really goes back to the origins of the comic book heroes which ended up being this massive hit producing an animated series and movies and also the novelty hit single Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme.
The story begins with how creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman met and how they bounced ideas of each other and how the story of the creation of the Turtles came about. The documentary has contributions outwith Laird and Eastman which is important to hear from guys like author Richard Rosenbaum and Comic Book Store (Silver Snail)
Eastman’s early sketch of an upright turtle holding nunchucks kicked it all off with him showing Laird his drawing and in turn Laird sketching his version and asking Eastman what it was meant to be. With Eastman replying “It’s a Ninja Turtle.” “How about putting Teenage Mutant in their title?”
Rosenbaum’s description of both artists probably explains best on how the collaboration in those early days worked and how those characters developed with Laird’s emotion and depth in writing coincidences with Eastman’s enthusiasm in the action and their fighting styles.
The early stages and possibly naivety of both artists was that they killing off their main villain in the first edition of the TMNT comic book not thinking the project could go any further shows how an idea can grow, develop and become the phenomenon it became in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
The Documentary Features nearly all the people who were there from the beginning and played a vital role in the development of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird to Mark Freedman (Surge Licensing) who helped the franchise to the makers of the animated series like guys like Fred Wolf (Animation Producer) to the director and stars of the first live action movie to the people like John Handy and Karl Aaronian at Playmates toys who helped the Turtles become one of the biggest toy lines of all time. This is a well and lovingly made documentary and a must-see for any Turtles fan.
It was great to see the original voice cast of the original animated series back together again and you could sense the camaraderie between Barry Gordon as Donatello, Cam Clarke as Leonardo, Renae Jacobs as April O’Neill, Townsend Coleman, Peter Renaday as Splinter, James Avery (Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) as Shredder and Pat Farley as Krang.
Thomas Gray (Producer) explains the trials on selling the Turtles to him as a full feature film and convincing a studio to make the 1990 film. As a massive fan of Bruce Lee and his movies I wasn’t aware of the interest that Raymond Chow and his Studio Golden Harvest (who made all of Lees films) had in making the film in Hong Kong. It was also interesting to see the tribulations in the making of the original movie from executing the scenes from the comic books and transferring them to the big screen and the involvement of the Jim Henson company for the characters animatronics which back in the late 80’s and early 90’s to today’s standards were very primitive.
Overall Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an interesting documentary that really pulls the rabbit out of the hat with the amount of information and depth of knowledge from everyone who was involved from the beginning of the comic books to the animated series to the feature film as well as the business in the franchise and felt it was all put together very well. For anyone of a certain age this will remind you of the phenomenon that was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and it’s rise to fame against all the odds.