How much is in a name? If Eastman and Laird, two comic geeks who
parodied the Marvel Universe in a self-published comic book, had called
it "The Turtle Squad" it is likely that no one would have ever heard of
their creation. Instead they named their creations The Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) and sold out their first printing
in days, largely do to the outrageously funny name. The book was
more than just a one trick pony however. The first issue was a very
cleaver parody, and as the series went on it became more serious, intricate,
and even a bit dark. The comic spawned an entire industry with cartoons,
action figures, pajamas, party supplies, and just about everything else
you can imagine being released with a TMNT theme. Three live
action theatrical movies were released between 1990 and 1993, and this
year the Turtles once again made it to the big screen with a $35 Million
CGI extravaganza, aptly titled TMNT. With big-name cast members
and a beautiful looking Blu-ray disc, it's too bad that the movie isn't
better than it turned out to be.
case you've been living under a rock and haven't encountered the Ninja
Turtles, they are a group of four small turtles who were covered with radioactive
ooze. This goop mutated them, increased their size and intelligence
and made them stand upright. They were trained by a mutated rat,
Master Splinter, in martial arts and together the four brothers fought
crime in New York.
This movie takes place a year or two after the third live-action film.
(Though the third movie, where the Turtles go back in time, is never referenced,
there are souvenirs from that adventure scattered about their lair.)
Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) has been sent to Central America to become
a better leader, and while he has been away the other three Turtles have
been drifting. Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) has taken a job doing
phone tech support, Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley) dresses up as a Ninja Turtle
and entertains children at parties, and Raphael (Nolan North) has taken
to prowling the streets at night as a masked vigilante, dubbed Nightwatcher.
O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) runs some sort of import business and lives
with Casey Jones (Chris Evans). She encounters Leo while looking
for a giant stone statue for a client, Max Winters (Patrick Stewart) and
convinces him to come back to NYC. When he returns he finds the Foot
Clan active again, giant monsters roaming the streets and a group of four
stone statues brought back to life by their 3000 year old commander.
The four brother are disorganized however, and don't want to follow their
leader. Can Leo bring them back together and forge them into a lean,
mean fighting force once again?
Okay, this movie sucked. I screened it with my family, and my
two sons (11 and 14) who are TMNT fans and both were unimpressed.
Comments like "That was really lame" and "I wanted them to fight a villain,
not each other" were fairly common after the film was over. There
are a lot of reasons why this film doesn't even make good kiddie fodder.
The plot is unnecessarily complex and convoluted, and doesn't make much
sense. When even kids are asking "How does sending Leo to live alone
in a jungle teach him leadership" you know the script is poor. The
main story, involving the immortal Max Winters has plot holes so big that
it's hard to follow the movie. When he became immortal, 3000 years
ago, his for generals were turned to stone and 13 monsters released into
the world that destroyed the rest of his army. It was stated that
the monsters still exist. Where have they been for the last three
millennia? How did Max make the stone statues come to life?
Why didn't he do it 3000 years ago? Don't even get me started on
stars throwing flairs to each other whenever they line up. Sheesh.
also a big lack of background information. That's understandable
to some extent, but since this is a continuation of the live-action series
they really needed to have some more exposition than the brief into.
After all, the children that this movie is aimed at weren't even alive
when the last live action movie was in theaters.
Even though the script was fairly wretched (wasn't learning to work
as a team the plot of the third movie??? And why can't the turtles figure
out who Nightwatcher is even though he has a turtle shell on his back!)
the action scenes were a lot of fun. The fight between Leo and Ralph
on a rain soaked rooftop was the highpoint of the film. It had all
of the action, excitement, and cool fighting moves that I was hoping would
fill the film. Unfortunately the big battle at the film's end was
a bit anti-climactic in comparison, though it was still pretty exciting.
It's too bad that writer/director Kevin Munroe couldn't have cut a lot
of the nonsensical plot and concentrated on making an enjoyable action
The Blu-ray Disc:
Though I didn't like the film I have to admit that the Blu-ray disc
looks pretty good. Really good in fact. The film is sharp and
has excellent definition, but even more than that is the way it reproduced
the texture and feel of the turtle's shells and skin. Master Splinter
also looked great, with his fur looking like a group of individual hairs
rather than just a colors texture applied to his skin. The lighting
is outstanding too. During the battle at the end when the dimensional
portal is opening the whole image becomes washed out and highlights become
saturated which really gives the impression that an incredibly bright light
is just off screen. The dark scenes are just as impressive with rock
solid blacks and fine details still being sharp even when they are in shadows.
There was really only one problem with this disc, and that's some significant
banding every time the sky was shown. It's not subtle at all and
really became distracting, especially since the rest of the disc looked
so good. Aliasing, cross colorization and block are all absent.
This disc boasts a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix that is outstanding.
It really puts the viewer right in the middle of the action. The
fights had the sounds of walls collapsing and solid impacts coming from
all corners of the room. The soundstage was used to good effect,
and it was wide and open too. The subwoofer got a good workout when
a monster crashes through floor after floor of a high-rise that's being
constructed, but the highs weren't ignored either. The light sound
of rain hitting the roof tops was clear and distinct and added a lot to
the feel of the movie.
The thing that was so impressive about this soundtrack is that it didn't
collapse into a stereo mix when the action scenes were finished.
The clanging of the stone general's iron boots on the marble floor would
echo to the rears and incidental sound effects were well placed around
the room, and not centered on the screen. A top notch sounding disc.
This disc contains the same bonus material that the SD and HD DVD releases
boast, which is a good thing, but there really isn't much here, which is
a shame. Another disappointment is that all of the video extras are
presented in SD video.
The extras start out with a commentary track by writer /director Kevin
Munroe. It's easy to tell he's excited about doing his very first
commentary track but that excitement doesn't translate over to the viewers.
He talk is fairly dry and it's hard to keep your mind from wandering as
he talks about how they lighted the film and other technical details.
I was surprised to hear that a lot was cut from the film. Maybe that
was a mistake, as a little more time may have improved the way the film
There's also an alternate opening and ending, basically different narration
on the intro and a scene with April and Casey at the conclusion that doesn't
do much to change the story. Likewise the deleted scene of Mike sneaking
some food to Splinter didn't make much of an impact. Donny's Digital
Data Files was pretty interesting; a 2-minute look at how the Turtles
were created inside of a computer, but the TMNT Voice Talent First Look
featurette was really lame. It had the big-name stars (Stewart, Geller
and Fishburne) talking about what a great movie they made. A fluff
piece that really wasn't worth the five minutes it took to watch.
There is also a web trailer for the film, but the theatrical trailer
I really wanted to like this movie. While writer/director Kevin
Munroe was able to strike a good balance between being too silly and too
serious, the plot was too convoluted and filled with too many inconsistencies,
illogical actions, and just plain stupid stuff. No one in my family
enjoyed the film, and even the kids said that they're not interested in
seeing it again, something that's pretty unusual for them. While the Blu-ray
disc looked and sounded great, that's not enough to make up for this poor
film. Skip it.
Note: For a different take on this movie, see Adam Tyner's review
of the HD DVD release here.
(He liked it.)
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do
not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.