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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Martial Arts > Computer Animation > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – 25th Anniversary 4 Film Collector’s Edition (Warner Bros./New Line Blu-ray)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – 25th Anniversary 4 Film Collector’s Edition (Warner Bros./New Line Blu-ray)

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

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

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

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

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)

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

 

TMNT (2007)

Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: B     Film: B

 

 

When the evil Shredder attacks, these turtle boys won’t cut him no slack!  25 years later and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still know how kick, punch, and cowabunga their way into action and our hearts.  If you are a child (or a parent for that matter) from the 1980’s there is no way possible you do not know who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are.  The Turtles started out as the comic book brainchild of Kevin Eastman at Mirage Studios in 1984; later the comic series would explode into a world wide phenomenon as it became a goliath in the form of merchandise, cartoons, and of course 4 insanely popular films.  The world and the entertainment business could not seem to get enough of those tubular Turtles and 25 years later they are still kicking shell.

 

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 

The first TMNT film was put out in 1990 and strongly followed Kevin Eastman’s original comic book storyline, while picking and choosing certain elements from the animated series.  The storyline of the first film is the most serious of the four films and is essentially an origin story as it gives the complete background on how The Turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael), Master Splinter, and Shedder came to be.  The story also introduces us to Casey Jones and April O’Neil who are key characters in the Turtles universe.  The story jumps right into the Turtles lives, portraying them as a secluded, tight nit group who covertly protect New York City; but for the most parts keep to themselves.  After a huge crime wave hits New York City in the form of The Foot Clan, investigative reporter April O’Neil takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of the increasingly destructive acts.  Not before long April has a run in with a group of thugs and The TMNT come to the rescue; in turn sparking her and the groups relationship.  Also in the wings to protect the city is vigilante Casey Jones; who uses his sports equipment (fashionable contained in a golf bag) to teach thugs and the foot clan the strong arm of justice.  Raphael meets up with Casey Jones in the middle of him dishing out some of his form of “justice;” the two have a bit of a disagreement, but nevertheless a bond is formed.  Later on, as the Turtles are escorting April back to her apartment, the Turtles Sewer hideaway is invaded by Shedder’s Foot Clan and Master Splinter is captured.  Master Splinter is taken to Shredder’s hideout where he is training a band of teenagers the ways of the ninja for his own personal gain.  The team of Turtles are suddenly caught off guard at April’s apartment and after a heated battle with the Foot Clan (in which Raphael is injured) the boys, April, and Casey are forced to escape to April’s childhood home in the country to recover and cope with the capture of Master Splinter.  The film continues from there with the Turtles, along with the help of April and Casey, attempting to rescue their fallen master.

 

Overall, the film is very, very well done.  Though some stylistic aspects are dated, for the most part the entire film remains well paced and relevant.  There are only a few childish elements here and there, but it is more than apparent that the film effort was taken very seriously.  The film was not praised too highly by critics, but collectively fans across the board loved and love the film; this fact also proven by a very nice box office take.  The film took a somewhat dark and serious take on The TMNT (very true to the comics) and at a time when CGI was not even imaginable, Jim Henson’s London Creature Shop brought The TMNTs to life in an amazing way. Jim Henson (who died shortly after this film’s completion) said that creating the Ninja Turtles was some of the most intricate and complicated works he had ever done; and it certainly showed.  I will not say that the film is perfect, but the manner in which it holds up after all these years and how it in no way was produced as a “cheap, throwaway” children’s film is admirable.  As previously mentioned the film sticks very closely to the original 1984 comic book series and only takes the best/most memorable elements from the beloved cartoon series.  The film feels real throughout and even today manages to grip your attention.

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

 

Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!  After a more serious outing for The Turtles in their first film, the writers and director took the second film in a looser, more cartoonish direction for the second go around.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze came less than one year after the first film and was insanely successful (though it did not reach the box office gross of the first film).  After the first TMNT film became a blockbuster smash, fans knew a sequel was inescapable.  For the second film the darkness and violence got somewhat cutback and focused on the return of Shredder as he setout to seek revenge on The Turtles that had crushed him (literally) in the first film.  Shredder learns of the origin of the Ninja Turtles (a secret canister of green ooze) and wishes to obtain its mysterious power for his own gain and to annihilate the Turtles.  The story centers around the so called “green ooze” (that transformed The Turtles years earlier) and the company Techno Global Research Industries (TGRI) that produces the highly toxic substance. The ooze causes immense growth in whatever it touches and in the wrong hands is highly dangerous.  In order to harvest the power of the ooze Shredder’s Foot Clan is ordered to break into TGRI and steal the substance along with an unwitting scientist.  When The Foot Clan arrives the Turtles are there to great them, but The Foot escapes with the ooze anyhow; later the ooze is used to transform a wolf and a snapping turtle into two beasts to do Shredder’s bidding (though they are quite dumb and comical).  The film then goes on to become a battle (once again) of good versus evil as The Turtles once again attempt to thwart the evil Shredder’s plans at world domination.

 

As previously stated the second film is in no way as serious, dark, or true to the comic books as the first film.  After a somewhat strong backlash about weapons and violence in the first film; the second film mainly relied on The Turtles using hand to hand combat and not so much on weaponry (sadly).  The second film also utilized many more of the cartoon elements and heavily relied on one liners and comedy; rather than sticking with what worked the first time around.  The film is in no way bad, actually it is quite good, it is just very different than the faithful adaptation the first film delivered.  Vanilla Ice was even in the film for God’s sake…what were they thinking.

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time

 

In 1993 the TMNT franchise returned, but this time The Turtles take on the task of time travel.  Unlike the previous two installments several major elements changed and not for the better.  In TMNT III the Turtles main foe Shredder is gone (not even mentioned) and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop did not provide the advanced animatronics for use in the film (highly noticeable).  The loss of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop gave the Turtles a more clean cut and cartoony appearance without the depth and detail that was seen in the previous installments.  Granted the general likeness of the Turtles was still there, it was just that something was “off.”  The film starts off with some back story from 1603 with a Samurai battle and the capture of a ninja; the film suddenly flash forwards to 1993 New York City where the Ninja Turtles (in their new abandoned Train Station hideaway) are greeted by April O’Neil who has brought them each presents from the local flea market.  Each of the Turtles gets a quirky gift that suits them well, while Master Splinter oddly enough gets an Ancient Japanese Scepter (now where the hell did someone find that?).  To make a long story short, the scepter is an ancient time travel device that when the inscription on its handle is read aloud it transports who ever is holding it (nifty I know).  Unfortunately for April O’Neil she happens to be holding it when in 1603 Japan a Samurai named Kenshin reads the inscription; causing the two to trade places in time.  These events set the Turtles out on a journey in time to save April and bring her back.  Once back in time (having switched places with some Japanese Honor Guards) the Turtles go through many hardships to stay together and retrieve their friend.  There are battles and conflict, but ultimately the film is all about the TMNT through and through.

 

The third film is the worst of the three original live action ventures; but it is still awesome to watch and entertaining as hell.  As previously mentioned it is missing key elements that are essential to TMNT fans, which leads to aspects of the film being distracting.  The film is once again more cartoony and light hearted than the first film (relying on cartoon elements more than the comic book), but it remains a classic among TMNT fans.

 

 

TMNT (2007)

 

This reviewer has already gone into the fourth TMNT installment in a previous HD review, oddly entitled TMNT even though its continuity falls in line with the previous three films.  The film is very well done and even in CGI it managed to surprise fans across the board with how the TMNT can still fascinate fans after 25 years.

 

To view this review please follow the link below:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/5996/TMNT+(HD-DVD+and+DVD+Combo

 

 

 

The technical features on the first three films are about the same on Blu-ray, with the fourth installment being comparable with the quality viewed on HD-DVD as can seen in the review listed above.  The picture for the first three films is undeniably the best the films have ever looked.  After suffering for years with gritty and dark DVD transfers the Blu-rays are cleaned up to a tolerable, yet not perfect quality.  All three films are projected in a 1080p/AVC-1 transfer that still has its issues as it has a degree of banding, debris, and artifacting throughout.  The contrast and colors are far from perfect, but along with the video black have come a long, long way from the horrific VHS and DVD releases.  On a brighter note the detail and crispness of the imagery is much improved, noticeable in the Jim Henson created costumes as well as the facial features across the board.  As the film series progresses from I-III the video gets noticeably better (with the third being the best), but for the most part it is a “give and take” type thing as colors, blacks, contrast, and other aspects are issues here and there throughout all three films.

 

The CGI TMNT film looks simply amazing, but being CGI and from 2007 that is to be expected.  The early 1990’s films had a rougher go, whereas in 2007 tons of money was pumped into the franchise, technology had improved, and CGI is easier to make look crisp and clean than older live action can ever look.  The sound quality is consistent on the three live action films, sliding by as adequate; but like the picture quality, it has its issues.  Presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Tracks and packs a nice Turtle POW as the voices come crisply from the front and the ambient noises use the surrounds to their benefit.  The sound is prioritized very well and the soundscape is fully used as it pans across all the speakers.  Whereas the sound is not perfect, Warner did a great job of bringing the 1990’s films (somewhat) up to today’s standard.  TMNT is also in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround, but is obviously a more noticeable upgrade from its 1990’s counterparts.  The sound from beginning to end captures it all; maintaining full action and crisp vocals throughout with ease.  The sound is nearly perfect as every facet of productions pans across the speakers and immerses the viewer in the full TMNT experience; simply amazing.

 

Whereas the cardboard “pizza-like” box that the set comes in; along with containing 8 limited edition character cards (photos), a reproduction sketch, a limited edition movie comic book, and a turtle knit cap (beanie); is amazing, the rest of the extras are nearly nonexistent on each disc.  The Blu-rays of the first three films only contain Theatrical Trailers (in standard definition) and that’s all.  TMNT is a bit better as it contains the same extras which were found on the previous Blu-ray/HD-DVD release (as can be viewed in the review above), but has added nothing else to the pot of turtle soup for fans to enjoy.  Considering how long fans have waited for this set on Blu-ray, not to mention the price, it is quite disappointing that NO effort was placed into putting together special features, commentaries, or any of the other countless things that could have been done here.  All together the box set is nice, but not exactly what this reviewer was hoping for.  The effort is certainly creative, but did not live up to expectations as NO solid bonus features are offered, the “swag” included is only mildly passable as interesting at best, and how it seems the box is going to wear out if I open it just one too many times.

 

Hardcore fans will want this set for certain.  It is the best the films have ever looked and considering that (for lack of better words) “it is only the Ninja Turtles” I would not expect another remastered release anytime soon.  Sure there are issues here and there with the picture, sound, and certainly the extras; but we all must remember that it is the film content that is the most important.  This is a major and worthy up grade from VHS and DVD, let’s just hope this isn’t the last we have seen of our green ninja friends.

 

COWABUNGA DUDE!!!

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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