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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III’ (PG)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 22, 1993

You know how sometimes sequels are better than the originals? How the second "Star Wars" film was an improvement over the first? And the second "Godfather" film expanded on the themes of the first and put them in context?

Well, that doesn't happen with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III."

This time, Caravaggio, Picasso, Rembrandt and Jackson Pollock (or whatever their names are) get sent back in time to feudal Japan, where Lord Norinaga (Sab Shimono) has forged an unsavory alliance with a British sea scoundrel (Stuart Wilson, who seems to have his teeth and the teeth of several dozen others in his mouth) to wage his unjust war against the people. Due to some tricky equal-mass-replacement theory, whenever someone in the present goes into the past, someone of equal size must come from the past into the present. (Matisse, I think, figures this out.) So while the turtles and their girlfriend, April (the perpetually ebullient Paige Turco), are Ninja fighting and suffering pizza withdrawal in the past, Lord Norinaga's son (Henry Hayashi) and four of his father's honor guard watch TV and play video games here in our time.

Before this switcheroo is corrected and the turtles can come home, they first must help the rebels in their fight against the oppression of Norinaga. In order to accomplish their mission they do what they always do -- fight whom they have to fight, and make whatever wisecracks they have to make -- all in a rather perfunctory, by-the-numbers manner.

If the first sequel was a photocopy of the original, this second sequel is a tracing of a photocopy. It's the same business twice removed, and twice diminished.

Copyright The Washington Post

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