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Turtles re-powered! Fans screen original Ninja Turtles movie

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Thinking of shelling out $15 to see the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie? You might have a more tubular time for free.

The latest Michael Bay-helmed film is on top of the box office, but some folks think the original turtles flick still kicks butt. So to give Brooklyn a taste of some classic cowabunga, two separate groups of fans are holding free screenings of the 1990 live-action version — first at Videology in Williamsburg on Aug. 22, and then at Freddy’s Bar in Park Slope on Aug. 24.

“The new one is just kind of another big, loud, expensive, summer blockbuster,” said Mike Cecchini, managing editor for Den of Geek, the geek-centric blogging site that is hosting the Videology screening. “The old one was not that.”

The crime-fighting, pizza-loving reptiles have been re-invented countless times over the years, appearing in comic books, video games, numerous cartoon series, and on the shelves of toy stores. But some people think the new Hollywood blockbuster, which uses computer animation to render fierce realistic looking 7-foot tall turtles, has mutated the spirit of the surfer-slang-slinging martial artists. They used to be the little guys, said Cecchini.

“The appeal of the turtles has always been the underdog aspect. When you turn them into linebackers you lose some of that,” he said.

One of the original film’s most distinctive features was the animatronic costumes created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. It took three people — an actor, a voice artist, and a puppeteer — to bring each hero in a half shell to life for the first time.

“The thing we love about the old one is the costumes,” Cecchini said. “It’s amazing watching guys doing martial arts and somersaults in these big suits.”

Tony Nigro, who helps run the Obsolete Cinema series at Freddy’s Bar, understands why people have fond memories of the original.

“We trade on nostalgia big time,” said Nigro, who will also screen the 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” film on the same day. “Everything we show, we want to be a sort of rediscovery.”

But he also thinks the first film was a bit confused about what it wanted to be. It was marketed to children, but based mostly on the original comic book series, which was much grittier than subsequent family-friendly iterations.

“It was aimed at kids, so it’s fun and wacky,” he said. “But it’s also pretty violent and dark.”

Both film screeners concur that the new film is something else entirely — and it is intended to be.

“The new one is much more a synthesis of 30 years of turtle mythology,” Cecchini said. “I didn’t love the movie, but I still thought the turtles looked cool.”

They also agree that purists will never be pleased with a remake.

“You’re going to see that with anything that has a pre-history to it,” Nigro said. “What is the original at this point anyway?”

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” at Videology [308 Bedford Ave. between South First and South Second streets in Williamsburg, (718) 782–3468, www.videology.info]. Aug. 22 at 10 pm. Free; and Freddy’s Bar [627 Fifth Ave. between 17th and 18th streets in Park Slope, (718) 768–0131, www.freddysbar.com]. Aug. 24 at 2:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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