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Warner Home Video presents
TMNT Combo DVD and HD-DVD (2007)

Leonardo: Don't do this, Raph.
Raphael: I'm done taking orders.

- James Arnold Taylor, Nolan North

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 06, 2007

Stars: Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ziyi Zhang
Other Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Mitchell Whitfield, James Arnold Taylor, Mikey Kelley, Nolan North
Director: Kevin Munroe

MPAA Rating: PG for animated action violence, some scary cartoon images, and mild language
Run Time: 01h:26m:45s
Release Date: August 07, 2007
UPC: 085391139409
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BA-A B

DVD Review

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were one of the great hits of the 1980s, and they've continued to get attention here and there in various incarnations. The latest of these is a computer-generated actionfest that builds on the characters' now long history and offers up some new villains and a fair amount of character development to boot.

The Turtles have gone underground at the urging of their sensei, Splinter (Mako), and have gone their separate ways. Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) has gone to Central America for further training, Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) is doing computer tech support, Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley) is stuck in a gig as a kids' party character, Cowabunga Carl, while Raphael has taken up a side career as vigilante The Nightwatcher. But the brothers must come together somehow in order to face the dangers presented by the mysterious Mr. Winters (Patrick Stewart), who is working with the Foot Clan of ninjas to assemble thirteen legendary monsters and four stone warriors, in hopes of reopening a dimensional portal. The Turtles' friend April O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her boyfriend Casey (Chris Evans) try to reassemble the boys but their resentments—especially between Leo and Raphael— run painfully deep.

The best thing about the movie is the visuals, which have a lovely 3-D appearance, matched with a modestly cartoonish character design that is more than a little influenced by anime stylings. The Turtles in particular have a nice solidity that makes them almost appear like stop-action animation. Some of the scenes are marvelous, such as the atmospheric sequences in the Central American jungles, or the rooftop battle in the rain between Leonardo and Raphael. The latter in particular is stunning work that really pushes the envelope of CG.

The action sequences are frequent and are generally pretty well staged, but they seem a bit perfunctory. There are a few segments that have a great sense of fun, most notably a skateboarding tour through the sewers that doesn't accomplish anything to push the story forward, but is certainly exhilarating. Raphael's battle in a diner (featuring a cook voiced by Kevin Smith) against a small but vicious monster is highly amusing and has the sense of adventurous action and good humor that epitomizes the Turtles. The big ending feels awfully pat and a bit arbitrary, however.

On the positive side, the Turtles themselves get more attention to characterization than they've ever received on the big screen, making them very distinct personalities without being caricatures. There is a good attention to detail throughout, which helps keep them seem vividly real. The dissension between Leonardo and Raphael goes on a bit long, however, which makes the pacing a bit problematic. They spend so much time having personal difficulties that the story really ends up careening along without the Turtles, almost making them secondary characters in their own movie. At the same time, it's never quite explained why Splinter allows them to fall apart so badly. At least the compulsion to include an origin sequence is avoided; the viewer is assumed to know who the Turtles are and what their general story is.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes
Anamorphicnoyes


Image Transfer Review: Both HD and anamorphic widescreen versions of the movie are included on opposite sides of the disc. The HD side is gorgeous, though the rendering freqeuntly makes the picture appear somewhat soft. The textures are well rendered and the black levels are crisp and clean. The Turtles themselves look terrific, and as noted above the fight in the rain is spectactularly gorgeous. Edge enhancement is only rarely visible, and I didn't note any posterization or other artifacting. The non-HD side is attractive enough, but it pales by comparison.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
+
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The HD side features DD+ 5.1 tracks as well as a TrueHD version that offers slightly better depth and wider soundstage. There's plenty of oomph throughout, and range is excellent as is the clarity of the voice acting. Klaus Badelt's score is frequently thrilling with nice immediacy to the low brass. No noise or hiss was observed, as one would expect for a recent animated feature.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
5 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
1 Feature/Episode commentary by writer/director Kevin Munroe
Packaging: Elite
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Writer/director Kevin Munroe offers a reasonably solid commentary that has few dead spots and offers quite a few interesting remarks about the different approaches given to the movie as well as subplots that ended up being removed. It's pretty accessible and not bad for a first-time effort at a commentary. TMNT Voice Talent First Look (5m:04s) is a standard fluff piece that offers little of interest. There are three extended or alternate scenes, plus an alternate opening that spells out some of the origin and the background of the characters. There are also five segments that provide animatics and storyboard comparisons for various key sequences from the movie, if you're interested in seeing less-finished (and often downright primitive) versions of these scenes.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A reasonably fun and action-packed CG rendition of the Turtles, with all the gorgeous detail of HD. There are plenty of extras, though most of them are of limited interest.

 


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