With the popularity of the cartoon series reaching its peak, it was inevitable that Hollywood would attempt to make a live-action movie based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and so, in 1990, we got to see Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo in their first film.
As excited as we were about that prospect as kids, the odds that the film itself would be any good were pretty low. It would later spawn two sequels and countless tie-ins, so it certainly did its job at the box-office and came out at the right time. But this wasn't just a lucky shot in the dark, this was a decent TMNT movie, believe it or not. The tone of the film was slightly darker than the popular cartoon, and therefore a touch more in line with the comics, but it still captured the fun, cheesy aspects we all enjoyed about the animated series. The turtle costumes looked great for the time and were more consistent/convincing than in later films, especially in terms of puppeteering, and the voice cast, which included Corey Feldman, fit really well with their respective characters.
Other characters introduced in the film included Splinter (voiced by Kevin Clash), April O'Neil (Judith Hoag), Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) and, of course, The Shredder (James Saito). You might also be able to spot a young Sam Rockwell in an early role as a thug. It's a solid cast and, even though a lot of the turtles' jokes are groan-worthy, they are a likeable team and the script does well to keep the story simple yet involving. The turtles and Splinter were created and animated by Jim Henson's Creature Shop and they are still an impressive achievement. The main complaint one could make about the film is that the ending is rather anti-climactic: it builds up to a confrontation between Splinter and The Shredder but it lasts about five seconds and then the film is pretty much over. The recent Ninja Turtles movie would finally give us a proper version of that fight.
Here's a film franchise fans of the TMNT remember fondly and it's easy to see why as the films have enough charm and are fun enough to make them instant guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures. This first outing is particularly well made and it holds up surprisingly well.