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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Adventure > CGI Animation > Action > Martial Arts > TV > Fantasy > Slapstick > Ghosts > H > Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wanted - Bebop & Rocksteady (2017/Nickelodeon DVD)/Topper (1937/Hal Roach/MGM/MVD Visual/VCI Blu-ray)

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017/DreamWorks Animation/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/LEGO Ninjago Masters Of Spinjitzu: Hands Of Time (2017/Warner DVD Set)/SpongeBob Squarepants: The Complete Ninth Season (2012/Nickelodeon DVD Set)/Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wanted - Bebop & Rocksteady (2017/Nickelodeon DVD)/Topper (1937/Hal Roach/MGM/MVD Visual/VCI Blu-ray)

Picture: A- & B-/C+/C+/B/B- Sound: B+ & B-/C+/C+/B/B- Extras: A-/D/C-/D/C- Main Programs: B+/C+/B-/B+/B-

Here's the next group of children's titles, but this time, we induce an old family classic...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) is DreamWorks Animation's attempt to adapt and capitalize on the popular book series as a feature film. George and Harold has been best friends since 4th grade. They are always dreaming up jokes, laughter and drawing Captain Underpants, their own fictional comic superhero to help relieve their boredom in school. That is until they accidentally hypnotize their principal into believing he IS Captain Underpants, but when their new science teacher turns out to be mad scientist bent on ridding the world of laughter, it is up to George, Harold and Captain Underpants to thwart his evil plans and save the world's laughter.

George and Harold are BFFs who often relieve their boredom of school by playing pranks (and to bring joy and laughter to the students), mostly against the strict-laced Principal Krupp in his 'no fun is allowed school'. Until their pranks go too far and they get caught on tape, but then they accidentally hypnotize Principal Krupp they turn him into becoming his alter-ego (and their hero) the fun loving, justice protecting dim-witted Captain Underpants. And for a while things are grand with George and Harold being able control Principal Krupp, but they soon discover their new Science teacher Professor P (who is sick of people laughing at his full/real name, Professor Pee Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants, Esquire) has plans to get rid of all the children's humor and laughter. Now George, Harold and Captain Underpants must stop Professor Poopypants evil plans in his giant robot Turbo Toilet 2000 and his anti-laughter ray.

Captain Underpants is a family fun comedy that is appropriate for all ages. It is about friendships, jokes (mostly potty humor), kids with creative imaginations and the joy of laughter. This might be a bit much for some, but within the logic of its world, it works.

Extras include a ton of items like a motion comic of Captain Underpants, Captain Underpants guide to be a hero, Professor Poopypants guide to be a villain, deleted scenes, music videos, Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, shorts and trailers.

LEGO Ninjago Masters Of Spinjitzu: Hands Of Time (2017) is the latest Warner 2-DVD set of the show, but this time, these 10 adventures are meant to coincide with the theatrical release of the first feature film with the same characters. There is nothing particularly different or special about the set versus all the previous ones a few of us have covered, but its the one fans will remember in conjunction with the film coming out and that is the only distinction it will have. This is just fine for what it is, more of the same, but non fans will be bored.

There are no extras.

SpongeBob Squarepants: The Complete Ninth Season (2012) is one of Nickelodeon's all-too-rare releases of an entire season of any of their hit TV shows, this one a four DVD set. At this point in the series, everything had become pretty much formula, but I give the makers credit that the energy is still here and the show had not lost its sense of joy or fun. Still, this could be too much for most, as even The Simpsons started to loose steam at the same point of their series. However, this does not offer any dumb narrative moves that that hit had by then, so fans can take pride in the makers considering their loyalty.

Some extras short tunes are included.

Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wanted - Bebop & Rocksteady (2017) has Nickelodeon going post-modern by bringing together two eras of the same team. Ever since the defeat of the Triceratons and the death of the Shredder, New York has been quiet ...except for Bebop and Rocksteady. Now New York is under attack from another Shredder and Krang from another dimension ...the '80s. So the Turtles must team up with their '80s counterparts to stop Technodrome.

With evil gone, the Turtles find themselves bored. Bebop and Rocksteady are looking for new jobs until a Shredder from another dimension decides to hire them ...a Shredder from the 1980s dimension. Fortunately, the Turtles from the '80s also decide to come along and now they have twice the Turtle power. Unfortunately, the Turtles from the '80s need a bit of training due to parental guidance issue in their dimension.

This is 2 tales from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, one makes fun of the previous series in how silly the old series was and how easy (and stupid) the old Shedder was. The second tale was an origins tale of how the Turtles were raised by their master Splinter. The only extra is a Ice Cream Kitty Music Video.

We conclude with Norman Z. McLeod's Topper (1937) which has the gimmick of a fun couple (Constence Bennett and a young Cary Grant in his early dapper best) drinking, getting giddy, then taking their fancy sports/luxury car and getting killed in a car accident where they hit a tree. But don't fret! They may be dead, but they have not left the world of the living. They can materialize and dematerialize at will!

They also decide to annoy the businessman title character (Roland Young, whose really good here too) nebing in his business and having fun with an unsuspecting world of the living. The visual effects of this early work of seamless sound filmmaking became highly influential on ghost story telling, comedies (one of which this is) and a big influence on several hit TV sitcoms, a few action shows (like Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)) and was offered some of the most imitated visual effects in the analog era, much imitated to no end by digital effects and animation even as you read this.

No, the film is not perfect and some of it has not dated as well as others, but leave it to the fun spirit (no pun intended) of the Hal Roach Studios (wisely distributed by MGM at the time) to come up with a film like this that at least knows how to move and work. Bennett (too forgotten for my money) and Grant are a great couple here with convincing chemistry, the film has money on the screen and the supporting cast is fine with the likes of Billie Burke as stuffy Mrs. Topper (two years before The Wizard Of Oz), Arthur Lake (later Dagwood in the Blondie films), Eugene Pallette, Allan Mowbray and even turns by Hedda Hopper (later an infamous gossip columnist) and music legend Hoagy Carmichael.

This later inspired its own TV version among its many imitators and I'm glad VCI got a version of this out on Blu-ray. Everyone should see this one at least once.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is sadly the only extra.

Now for playback performance. Captain Underpants was issued in a 2160p 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, but for now, we're only looking at the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray and it does look as good as it possibly could for the format with good color, depth and definition. We could imagine the 4K looking better, but not by much.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white image centered in a 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer for Topper can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film despite noise in parts of various scenes, parts of shots slightly darker than they should be and minor detail issues. Otherwise, it is pretty good for its age and this will do until a 4K version can be made.

That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image in the three TV DVD sets looking as good as they can, though an edge is given to the Turtles set.

As for sound, Captain Underpants was issued in all three main 12-track formats: Dolby Atmos (offered only on the 4K Blu-ray), DTS: X and Auro. This 1080p Blu-ray offers a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix at best, but it is a fine mixdown with just enough punch and range for the format. The mix can be imaginative too.

The PCM 2.0 Mono on Topper is a little better and clearer than expected, sounding good for its age of (wow) 80 years old and counting. The LEGO set and Turtles have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, while SpongeBob has lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds, but Turtles has the slightest of sonic edges.

- Ricky Chiang (Captain, Turtles) & Nicholas Sheffo


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