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New Line Home Cinema presents
"There is only one thing next: revenge."
DVD ReviewIn the mid-1980s, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird developed a mildly successful set of unusual comic book characters: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were a quartet of mutated (re: human-sized) sewer-living, pizza-eating, wise-cracking teenage turtles who learned the ancient martial arts from an equally large mutated old rat named Master Splinter (sort of a hairy Mr. Miyagi). The comics themselves were dark, funny and full of genuinely clever writing, and the live-action debut of Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo was finally released in 1990, and managed to make the turtles and their antics a little more family friendly. The inevitable animated series and dizzying action figure blitz came with the territory too, and for awhile during the early 1990s, turtlemania was pretty rampant, especially if you were, or had, a child.
This 1991 sequel, directed by Michael Pressman (Dr. Detroit), picks up the action pretty much right after the events of the first film. The turtles and Splinter, having defeated their arch nemesis Shredder (François Chau) and his evil Foot Clan, have been forced to move out of the sewers and live with their only human friend, newspaper reporter April O'Neil (here played by Paige Turco, replacing Judith Hoag from the original). We are also introduced to a new sidekick for the boys, a marital arts-savvy pizza delivery boy named Keno (Ernie Reyes, Jr.), as well as bumbling Professor Perry (the great David Warner, who unfortunately does NOT play a villain here). A cannister of some mysterious "toxic ooze," the same stuff that created the turtles, has made it's way into the hands of the still very much alive Shredder, and he plans to use it to create a new army. In predictable and simplistic comic book fashion, it is up to the turtles to find Shredder and destroy the ooze in order to save the world.
The action is pretty formulaic, and Pressman wisely doesn't stray too much from what had already been proven to be a winning formula. The turtles get involved in a number of elaborately choreographed ninja battles, full of wacky banter and equally silly moves, generally set to horribly dated dance music. In an age when most non-human characters are CG-created, it is kind of appealing to see how well the Jim Henson Creature Shop turtle costumes look and move here. The fight sequences have the four "heroes on the half shell" spinning, kicking and leaping, and there is a natural ease and fluidity to their movements. Splinter and the new creations, Rahzar and Tokka, however, look like stiff animatronic outfits in comparison.
The mood of this film, which is really nothing more than a blatant marketing tool to push toys, is light and fluffy, with plenty of snappy and occasionally funny banter from the turtles. A truly weird, very mind-altering moment occurs during the climax when a TMNT/Foot Clan battle ends up landing in the middle of a Vanilla Ice (!) concert, and the scene ends with a strutting, spinning turtles dance sequence, featuring Mr. Ice. Now THAT'S surreal, my friends.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: New Line has included two transfers, in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 open matte full-frame. Some of the interiors play a little too dark, but overall it's a pretty decent transfer. Colors are fairly vivid, though much of the setting is in dark, shadowy environs, so it's tough to call them actually bright. I found it difficult at times to differentiate between the red mask of Raphael and the orange mask of Michelangelo, however. The source print seems to be clean, and free of any distracting specks and dirt.
As expected, I'd have to say go with the 1.85:1 transfer on this one. The 1.33:1 transfer, while I guess is more kid-friendly, really tends to cramp the fight sequences into a cropped, blurring mess. Do your kids a favor, and go with the widescreen transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: New Line's inclusion of a solid 5.1 Dolby Digital track is a welcome addition to this disc, and it really helps to make the film a bit more palatable. It's a rather aggressively mixed track, full of discrete rear channel ambient cues that bring the soundtrack to life, most notably during the numerous ninja battle scenes. This isn't reference quality by any means, but I was actually surprised at how well the 5.1 track sounded.
An English 2.0 stereo track is also provided, but it is really flat when compared to the surround mix. It may not matter to the under 7 crowd, but I found the nicely mixed 5.1 greatly enhanced the fight scenes enough to almost make them enjoyable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
The film is split into 20 chapters, and includes optional English subtitles.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsThere aren't any surprises here (other than a "new" April), and it seems like nothing more than the hastily created sequel that it is. There are enough politically correct fight scenes and turtle humor to appease those viewers who found the original film entertaining, though it is clearly geared as a medium to sell toys.
I have no way of knowing if the TMNT are still in vogue after all these years (I have a girl, and ninjas are, and have always been strictly "boy" territory). I've seen plenty of turtle paraphernalia at garage sales to make me realize they are probably a little out of fashion. However, if your kids are ninja fans, this will likely work as a rental.
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