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DVD ReviewThe biggest leap of faith in Surf Ninjas is not the fantastical story of alternate dimensions, evil cyborgs, and magical happenings; it's that we're supposed to buy the nearly 30-year-old Rob Schneider as an 11th grader. Improbability number two would be Leslie Nielsen as a samurai warrior. I can forgive the odd casting choices, though, since the two provide the few bright moments in an otherwise noisy, violent, and unspeakably dumb surfer/ninja wish-fulfillment comedy.
Two brothers, Johnny (Ernie Reyes, Jr.) and Adam (Nicholas Cowan) are both lazy beach bums who care more about catching a wave then finishing their homework. After some mysterious ninja guys kidnap their father, however, they are visited by another mysterious ninja (a good one this time) who informs them that they are the lost princes of a South Sea paradise. Years ago, the villainous "foreign mercenary" Colonel Chi (Nielsen) attacked their home, and the kids were shipped off to live with an adoptive father until they were old enough to return and save their homeland. Also, the older one develops superpowers and the younger has a conveniently product-placed Sega game that can see the future (buy Sega games where you work or bank!).
I curse Surf Ninjas for making me question my love for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I saw the latter when I was about 10, and it had a profound effect on my life (as long as you consider "riled me up like a case of Mountain Dew" profound). I still enjoy the Turtle movies for nostalgic reasons, but if they are truly as loud and mindless as Surf Ninjas, then maybe I wasn't the bright, perceptive youngster I've always imagined. Because Surf Ninjas is painful to watch. The plot is contrived, complicated, and dull, and the humor is of the lowest common denominatorómostly broad, poorly shot physical gags or pratfalls and bodily humor. The lead child actors aren't too bad, but they too are fairly bland, their "surfer" personas almost antiquated. At least Nielsen and Schneider (a friend of the chosen ones, his shtick is that he's really stupid) seem to enjoy hamming it up. Though I have to admit, I did laugh once, at a gag involving a townsperson named "Gum-bey" (friend of "Pok-eay"). One laugh in 87 minutes, that's not so bad, right? I'm going to go poke my eyes out now.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+
Image Transfer Review: Not too bad. Bright colors, minimal artifacting, and decent black level. Grain is sometimes visible, but not distracting. The biggest problem is the obvious edge enhancement, which fails to make up for an overall softness to the transfer. Choose your poison: 1.85:1 or 1.33:1 transfers are included on the same side of a DVD-9.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Audio isn't bad. The 5.1 DD remix spreads things across the main soundstage quite nicely, anchoring dialogue in the center channel and presenting sound effects with fairly good directionality. The surrounds aren't incredibly active, but they do enhance the action and surfing scenes, and provide some support for the score and hip hop soundtrack.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsAn obvious bid for the Ninja Turtle audience, Surf Ninjas is a mind-numbing excuse for a kid's action comedy. It's sort of amusing at times, mostly for how much it has dated in the past decade, but I can't imagine any little dudes finding this the least bit gnarly nowadays. Cowabungled.
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