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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Superhero > Martial Arts > Computer Animation > TMNT (HD-DVD and DVD Combo Format) + Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Season 5 (3 DVD Set)

TMNT (HD DVD and DVD Combo Format) + Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Season 5 (3 DVD Set)

 

Picture: A-/B/C     Sound: A-/B/C+     Extras: B/B-     Film: B

 

 

COWABUNGA!  They’re Rad!  They’re Bad!  And they’re BACK!  That’s right, now on DVD is your favorite heroes in a half shell in their first feature film in almost 15 years with TMNT, their first in the computer animation world.  In addition, their original hand-drawn animated TV show is now out in its fifth season set.  First, the new feature.

 

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles return to their old sewer and Big Screen stomping grounds with TMNT to continue the chronicles of four turtle brothers (Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Donatello) and their surrogate father Splinter (who happens to be a human sized rat) as they kick, flip, and slice their way through crime.  The story takes off a few years after the end of the third film (1993) despite the switch from liver action to CG.

 

The brothers have seemingly found their own comfy niches in life since The Shredder has been defeated and most supernatural crime has disappeared from the streets of Manhattan.  Leonardo is found training in Central America on Master Splinter’s orders, but seems to spend an equal amount of time protecting the locals.  Raphael has become a vigilante crime crusher known as the Nigh Watcher; somewhat departing from his true ninja past and having much angst about the lackluster life that has been cast upon him.  Michelangelo is a birthday party clown, while Donatello is a computer help hotline manager; going a long way since being ‘a party dude’ and a guy ‘fixes machines.’  April O’ Neil, who remains a close counterpart to the turtles, now runs a shipping business with her awesome Boyfriend Casey Jones, presumably leaving her reporter past behind.

 

Though the turtles may have changed the world had not; evil was still lurking around the corner.  3,000 years ago a Warrior General lead a military campaign across the globe, becoming more powerful with each and every step.  As victorious as he was, it was not to last.  In an attempt to become the most powerful man to ever live the general opens a portal that to his dismay released a barrage of evil and magical beasts upon the world and at the same time made him immortal while turning his army to stone.  In present day New York this same general has managed to reassemble the portal as well as retrieve his stony companions.  The last piece of the puzzle remains to recapture all of the beasts and restore his friends.  This General, having taken on the name Max Winter (voiced by Patrick Stewart), enlists the help of the infamous Foot Clan to help him on his mission.  With beasts running the streets of New York and evilness afoot (no pun intended) you know the TMNT are sure to save the day.

 

The film was great!  Hard to say whether or not this film was any better than the previous releases, due to it being CGI as opposed to the previous live-actions stylings.  One thing that can be said is that this reviewer finds it comforting and excellent that the writers managed to keep the turtles movies a continuous storyline.  With so many films today attempting to makeover classics, it is nice to know someone still cares about the diehard fans.  The film did great in the box office kicking 300 out of its top spot and fans can almost be assured a sequel is in the works.  From beginning to end this reviewer found the film gripping, enjoyable and fun.  Also the plethora of nostalgic cameos didn’t hurt either.

 

Then there is the now vintage show.  In this review is the series that started it all (besides the comic book) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season Five.  Maybe it was to promote or due to the success of the new TMNT film (either way this reviewer does not care), but the new 3-disc Season 3 Set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is awesome.  Let’s start off with the fact that it is in fact a Season Set and not another moronic Volumized hack job, AMAZING!  Secondly, though not as many episodes as Season 4 (only containing the full 18 episode run of Season 5) it does stay true to the Fifth Season Airing Run and comes in an awesome (no pun intended) pizza box.  There are words to describe how cool this set is, but this reviewer will try.  The set comes in a nice plastic cover to protect and stabilize the innards.  Next inside the plastic is a 5.5 x 5.5 inch square box that resembles a pizza box and inside are the three DVDs shaped (obviously) and designed like pizzas.  Overall an impressive attempt to make a DVD set memorable, collectable and just plain (maybe pepperoni) fun!

 

After Season 4 the network must have thought the turtles lost some ground because they started cutting the number of episodes per season.  Season Six had 16 episodes, the Seven had 14, and then the last three seasons each had 8.  Ten Seasons is nothing to look down on, but this reviewer just loved those turtles; no matter how corny the episodes got.

 

From the epic opener, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became a household name, and 20 years later they are still kicking but and scarfing down pizza.  With an updated animated series on television and a brand new CGI feature film entitled TMNT that ninja kicked top competitor 300 out of its box office slot and got rave reviews on DVD.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t going anywhere.  Though it is nice to see another season set, the technical features of the DVDs remain disappointing as always.

 

The picture is presented in its original 1.33 X 1 Full Screen aspect ration, but looks like an undigitally remastered analog VHS.  The picture’s colors again are off balance, the animation seems to bounce at times, there is obvious debris, and some light/dark issues.  Fans better hope that this is not the best quality masters that are available or even HD may be in trouble.  Let’s hope they fix these huge problems.  The sound once again has a slightly better quality than previous DVD releases, with a simple 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, but nothing fantastic.  The sound is improved over the single disc volumes but still shows age and sounds compressed and distant at times.  Extras continue on this 3 disc set with a look back at the series with the original voice actors of all four turtles, which to this reviewer was quite interesting.  Also an extra included on this set is a featurette entitled ‘Under the Shell’ an interview with Usagi Yojimbo (Baxter Stockman).  Overall, a tubular set!

 

 

The technicals features on the HD DVD and DVD Combo format version, on the other hand, were quite impressive.  The 1080p digital 2.35 X 1 High Definition image on the HD-DVD side is sharp and clear on the lines of Chicken Little, can be as three-dimensional and is color consistent throughout.  Though not the best CG feature to date, it knows how to run with what it can put on screen resulting in a necessary upgrade for the characters that work.  The anamorphically enhanced standard DVD-Video side was crisp, clear, and color balanced for that format, though no match for the HD side.  The sound is presented in a booming Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on both sides (dubbed Plus on the HD side with a bit more bite) that truly highlights the films action sequences and could only be slightly improved with the dialogue being a bit low/light at times, but the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 exclusive to the HD side overcomes these limitations and shows why TrueHD simply makes regular Dolby obsolete.  All are certainly better than the lame Dolby Mono from the old show.

 

Extras on the HD Combo disc are pretty solid offering fans of the film insight into a process that took almost 15 years to arrive at.  Features include a interesting and jam packed audio track with writer/director Kevin Munroe, Alternate Openings that neither would have added nor detracted from the already excellent CGI feature, one deleted scene that neither adds nor detracts, storyboard/CGI comparison featurette and a good interview feature with most of the voice talent that this reviewer personally enjoyed.  Overall, great features that are definitely worth a look at, but to some degree lack rewatchability.

 

With allusions to a sequel at the end of this film this reviewer can only hold his breath as he waits for another dose of Green nostalgia.  The film was no Oscar winner but it was fun and held true to the comic ideals the original films and cartoon series had in mind.  TURTLE POWER!

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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