Imagination Connoisseur, Jason Manwiller, writes in to ask why there hasn’t been a good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie in the past three decades.

Pull up a pizza and let’s discuss …

Hi Rob,

It’s been awhile since I sent you a letter so I decided to finally chime in. I have a lot of letters to send you covering a variety of topics including the Disney live action remakes, the Picard series, Spider-Man and yes, The Last Jedi. That one I’ve been working on for awhile now.

Though I have a lot of opinions to share with you on these various topics, I wanted to address one of your favorite topics with one of my favorite franchises. The topic at hand is verisimilitude and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I’ve been wanting to write a letter to you discussing the Turtles for some time now and with the release of The Lion King, this seemed to be the appropriate time to submit this letter to you. I attempted to have several conversations with the big guy about TMNT but while he entertained me, he did admit that it missed him and it wasn’t for him.

I’ve mentioned the Turtles to you in past letters and so I feel like you are the right person of online personalities I communicate with to discuss this. It seems like a lot of the reviews for The Lion King, as you discussed in your show yesterday, discuss the lack of emotion and even verisimilitude in the film. This was a concern of mine watching the trailers and it seems to be reality. (I agree with you about The Jungle Book, it currently is my favorite of the “remakes”; more on that in my letter on the live action Disney film remakes.)

So the question I wanted to ask you is, why do you think we haven’t gotten a good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie since the original 1990 film?

I love and adore this movie so much! As I’ve previously mentioned, I grew up on the Eastman and Laird comics along with the 80’s cartoon show. I have digested almost every variation of the Turtles and even now, over 30 years later, I still love them. For me the original 1990 film is still the best of the 6 movies to be released and even with all of our advances in technology, it is still the most faithful, purest, and most believable version of the Turtles.

I give a lot of the credit for the verisimilitude of the film to Jim Henson and his company. Though the Turtles are nothing more than men in suits, puppetry, and some advanced robotics, the CGI variations of today don’t hold a candle to these almost 30 year old Turtles. The film shot in NYC and even when the Turtles are placed in a real world environment, including a set, I fully believe it.

So why is it that a film released in 2019 that is technologically state of the art is not receiving praise outside of that the film looks great? As you mentioned yesterday, there is no verisimilitude. I also find the story that the original Turtles movie tells to be moving, somewhat complex for the franchise at hand, and tackles a topic that is personal to me; the story of fathers and their sons.

Whether we look at Charles and Danny or most notably, the relationship of Splinter and the four brothers. The film does a fantastic job showing Splinter caring for each of his sons in different ways, especially Raphael. The scene with Splinter and Raph, as Splinter advises Raph that his anger will destroy him if he allows it too and that he doesn’t need to face it alone is really powerful, that always struck a cord with me. I grew up having a strained relationship with my dad and I had a lot of build up anger inside of me.

As I grew older, I worked to resolve my anger and though my father is not in my life anymore, I am a better person now. Getting back to the film, the overarching theme of family is great. As the film progresses, it shows different scenarios taking place that change the circumstances of the brothers but I believe these characters exist the entire time. This film manages to capture real emotion out of puppets and men in suits. They even have a rooftop fight with the Shredder at the end of the film and I buy it 1000%.

I should say that I have not seen The Lion King yet so I can not judge it but based off reviews, especially that of one Jeremy Jahns, I see what you were saying on the show yesterday is true.

Back to my original question, I would love to see a more adult version of the Turtles going forward. A Netflix Daredevil style of show meets the Eastman and Laird comics, this screams Turtles, especially given that Daredevil inspired the creation of the Turtles. However, given that Nickelodeon owns the rights to the franchise, I am afraid we will never see that.

What are your thoughts on this Rob?

Have a great weekend and cowabunga!

– Luke B.