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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection(1990-2007)
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' - A live action version of the cartoon featuring the four ninja turtles and Shredder.
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze' - The sequel to 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' shows the turtles confronting radioactive ooze.
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time' - This film takes the Ninja Turtles back to the age of the Samurai.
'TMNT' - After the defeat of their old arch nemesis, The Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat sensei, Master Splinter, becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Tech- industrialist Max Winters is amassing an army of ancient monsters to apparently take over the world. And only one super-ninja fighting team can stop them-those heroes in a half shell- Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael! With the help of old allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, the Turtles are in for the fight of their lives as they once again must face the mysterious Foot Clan, who have put their own ninja skills behind Winters' endeavors.
For more about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray release, see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 7, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Brian Tochi, Robbie Rist, Paige Turco, Elias Koteas, Corey Feldman, Mark Caso
Narrator: Laurence Fishburne
Directors: Kevin Munroe, Steve Barron, Michael Pressman, Stuart Gillard
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray Review
Go ninja, go ninja... go?
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 7, 2009
With Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hobbling its way out of theaters and G.I. Joe preparing to storm the box office gates, it seems only fitting to revisit the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, an enduring, wildly popular franchise based on yet another successful '80s multimedia property. Oddly enough, it all began as a joke; a one-issue parody by artist Kevin Eastman that inexplicably generated a respectable comic run, a memorable Saturday morning cartoon, a line of action figures and, eventually, the film series at the heart of this review. (I won't even begin to dig into the late '90s live-action TV show, Japanese OVAs, animated spin-offs, Fox Network rebirths, and the many multi-platform videogames that have appeared over the years). Make no mistake, the Ninja Turtles property has an extensive fanbase, one that has been patiently awaiting the film series' high definition debut for quite some time.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
When an inexplicable crime wave begins to sweep the streets and alleys of New York City, four high-kicking vigilantes emerge from the sewers to uncover the source of the recent robberies and assaults. But these vigilantes are no ordinary crime fighters... they're giant, mutant turtles whose adoptive father, a mutated rat named Splinter (voiced by Kevin Clash), has trained them in the ways of the ninja. As the crime rate skyrockets, the turtles -- sai-slinging hothead Raphael (Josh Pais), wise-cracking nunchaku chucker Michaelangelo (Michelan Sisti and voice actor Robbie Rist), bo-staff-swinging intellectual Donatello (Lief Tilden and voice actor Corey Feldman), and their katana wielding leader Leonardo (David Forman and voice actor Brian Tochi) -- join forces with a hockey-masked vigilante named Casey Jones (Elias Kotas) and an investigative reporter named April O'Neil (Judith Hoag) to stop a vicious Japanese warlord called the Shredder (James Saito and voice actor David McCharen). Before they know what they've gotten themselves into, the pizza-chomping heroes have to contend with the Shredder's ragtag Foot Clan, rescue their kidnapped sensei, save a pack of teens from a mass identity crisis, and keep their existence a secret.
To my relief, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, nearly twenty years past its prime, holds up quite well. Despite some dated pop culture references and early '90s superficiality, its characters are still endearing and its screenplay still strong enough to appeal to nostalgic fans and young newcomers alike. The story itself often forgoes the usual kiddie fare, delivering a darker, more complex film than I expected. Sure, the turtles' stilted movements (an unfortunate consequence of the weighty costumes worn by the performers), wobbly shells, and telegraphed punches and kicks are slight distractions (particularly in light of the lighting-quick action of the series' CG-animated fourth film, TMNT), but the heart and soul of each brother shines through, making their first encounters with the Shredder's forces fairly satisfying. If I have any legitimate complaint, it's that director Steve Barron's decision to populate the Foot with runaway teens and young New York outcasts lessens the Clan's impact and, inevitably, makes the Shredder a less compelling villain. Still, considering the film was made before the widespread use of CG, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun, frequently fantastic bit of '90s entertainment that's aged more gracefully than its two live-action sequels.
The Secret of the Ooze
The fearless turtles reunite for The Secret of the Ooze (aka The One With Vanilla Ice and the Ninja Rap), a flimsy cash-in that contributes little to the series other than a slew of campy showdowns, a pair of dimwitted rivals (who are somehow even more simple-minded than cartoon favorites, Rocksteady and Bebop), and some terribly awkward cast shuffling. After defeating the Foot Clan and sending the Shredder to (what they assume was) a neat-n-tidy demise, Splinter and the turtles move in with April (Paige Turco, replacing a disgruntled Hoag) and resume their unwavering protection of the city. However, unbeknownst to the brothers and their master, the vile Shredder (François Chau and returning voice actor David McCharen) has miraculously risen from his trashy tomb, kidnapped a scientist (David Warner) with ties to the mysterious ooze that transformed them into humanoid creatures, and started plotting his dastardly revenge. With a pair of infantile mutant warriors at his side -- a spiny-shelled snapping turtle named Tokka (Kurt Bryant) and a wide-eyed wolfen thug named Rahzar (Mark Ginther) -- the Shredder attacks the turtles, hoping to finally mount their shells on his wall.
Secret of the Ooze will no doubt appeal to teary-eyed fans who've clung to their Ninja Turtle action figures over the years, but its bumbling villains, robotic fight scenes, and wince-inducing one-liners made me wonder how I once loved such a pedestrian sequel. I was admittedly overcome with nostalgic joy when the turtles hopped on stage with Vanilla Ice, but everything else -- from its protect-the-environment message points to its rehashed character interactions to the climactic appearance of a super-sized, monosyllabic Super Shredder -- left me laughing at the film rather than with it. It's clear from the outset that a room full of producers plowed through the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and double every production department's budget, ordering director Michael Pressman to make everything bigger, bulkier, and flashier. Sadly, the screenplay and its characters weren't given nearly as much attention as both the heroes and villains fizzle in the face of over-the-top practical effects and oversized set pieces. While the film is hardly a waste of celluloid -- it will, after all, reacquaint fans with a steady stream of childhood memories -- it simply doesn't hold up to 21st century scrutiny. There's fun to be had, sure, but there are far too many classic catalog titles on the market that deserve my personal time and attention.
Turtles in Time
The series takes a sharp downward turn in its critically panned third outing, Turtles in Time. In our shelled heroes' latest adventure, a magical scepter transports April (Turco) to 17th Century Japan, and subsequently pulls a young man named Kenshin (Henry Hayashi), the son of a feudal lord (Sab Shimono), into the 20th century. Leo (Mark Caso and voice actor Brian Tochi), Raph (Matt Hill and voice actor Tim Kelleher), Don (Jim Raposa and voice actor Corey Feldman), and Mikey (David Fraser and voice actor Robbie Rist) decide to follow, leaving their old friend Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) to watch over Master Splinter (now voiced by James Murray) and their new time-hopping pal, Kenshin. The turtles are shocked by what they encounter: respect. While the 20th century has treated them with nothing but disdain, forcing them to hide in the sewers and fight in secret, the people they meet in Japan marvel at the mutants' presence and skills. Before long, the turtles befriend a local named Yoshi (Travis A. Moon), begin helping a rebel named Whit (Koteas, making a requisite time-travel double-dip), and contend with a greedy British weapons dealer named Walker (Stuart Wilson).
Whether you blame writer/director Stuart Gillard, the studio execs charged with sucking every last ounce of gold out of the series' veins, or the nonsensical time-traveling shenanigans of the team's temporal misadventure, it's tough to defend Turtles in Time. Cheaper costumes and lower production values are a constant problem as well, creating a movie that looks as if it's been shot on the backlot of an LA studio rather than feudal Japan. The performances are even more unbearable than the film's shoddy script, and the turtles have been reduced to pale imitations of their once lovable selves. Granted, Raphael earns some solid character beats, but the rest of his brothers are squandered in a convoluted story that attempts to replace a classic baddie like the Shredder with a weaselly gun-runner from the UK. Worse still, Koteas is wasted in two roles, Splinter looks like a Muppets Show castaway, and April is little more than a bland damsel-in-distress that drives the plot along. Some younger viewers may be entertained by the grade-school hilarity of it all, but my four-year-old was bored out of his mind. Ultimately, nostalgia is the only thing that can save this mediocre sequel from its shortcomings.
Accuse me of blasphemy all you want, but I consider director Kevin Munroe's CG-animated TMNT to be the best flick in the bunch. Leonardo (voiced by James Arnold Taylor), Raphael (Nolan North), Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield), and Michaelangelo (Mikey Kelley) return yet again, this time with a welcome burst of speed and skill that, for the first time in the film series, pays homage to the word "ninja" in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The fourth entry not only mixes up the series' pre-established formula and tone, it wisely exchanges slapstick comedy for fierce animated action, bumbling villains for deadly assassins and vicious beasties, and cheesy one-liners (which, in true turtles fashion, are still intact to some extent) for interpersonal angst (primarily between Leo and Raph). Since we last left the burly amphibian brothers, Splinter (the late Mako) has sent Leonardo to South America for some hands-on leadership training, Donatello has taken a job as a technical support operator, Michelangelo has began working as a children's entertainer, and Raphael has secretly become the Nightwatcher, an armored vigilante whose nightly activities have earned the media's attention.
The story itself involves an immortal warlord (Patrick Stewart) who resurrects four stone warriors from his past, hires the remnants of the Foot Clan (who've thankfully been blessed with the same speedy upgrades the turtles have received), and tasks his new militia with capturing thirteen monsters. Helping the turtles combat this latest threat is our favorite high-sticking vigilante, Casey Jones (Chris Evans), and ex-reporter April O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar). While April has abandoned investigative journalism in favor of tomb raiding and martial arts training, each character has been streamlined and refined for their 21st century theatrical debut, retaining key traits established in the three previous films but submitting to some much-needed tweaks along the way. It helps that Munroe's voice actors -- with the exception of Zhang Ziyi -- have been wonderfully cast. They suit their characters nicely, avoid phoning in their lines, and capture the heart and soul of each turtle, human, or immortal menace that appears on-screen.
When I first saw TMNT in 2007, I was a bit disappointed with its overcrowded screenplay and leftfield villains. However, having spent the last two years watching the film with my son, I've come to appreciate its finer qualities and overlook its shortcomings. Action is at the forefront of Munroe's take on the turtles, and he stages every fight, battle, and clash of the titans with confidence and ease. That's not to say the story suffers -- Leo and Raph's family feud is compelling to say the least, Splinter's relationship with his sons has never been more believable than it is here, and the multi-staged endgame is thoroughly engrossing, bringing every character and plot development to a simultaneous, well-constructed head -- but it's far more exciting than its live-action brethren. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the animation itself. Every shot is gorgeous, every wonderfully lit texture brings Munroe's animated New York to gritty life, and the film's character designs enhance the tale's quieter moments and rapidfire action scenes. TMNT certainly isn't perfect (that would require another fifteen minutes of plot expansion), but it does offer a rewarding adventure, several compelling conflicts and, most importantly, delightful interpretations of the series' mainstays.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray, Video Quality
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The first entry in the Turtles series features a respectable 1080p/VC-1 transfer that, despite several technical issues, should please fans looking to disregard their aging VHS and DVD copies of the film. Colors are a bit muted and nighttime sequences are plagued with inconsistent contrast and poorly resolved blacks, but I doubt Warner could have done much more with the original print without investing in a Blade Runner-esque restoration. Thankfully, detail is impressive (particularly when it comes to Jim Henson's creature costumes), dirt and scratches have been significantly reduced, and noise has been kept to a minimum. On the flipside, the film's grainfield (while present) has been quashed, and heavy-handed artificial sharpening has been applied to counteract the effects. More distressingly, artifacting, banding, and aliasing pop up from time to time, undermining the overall integrity of the image. Even so, I didn't expect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to look quite this good. I imagine anyone approaching this release with reasonable expectations will be satisfied with Warner's efforts.
The Secret of the Ooze
The turtles' second outing receives a similar 1080p/VC-1 encode that nevertheless benefits from the increased production values of the film itself. Colors are slightly bolder (albeit equally muted during nighttime scenes), contrast is more stable, and detail is a bit sharper. Black levels still struggle to bottom out, but delineation is more revealing and dimensionality more convincing. That being said, the presentation is cursed with the same overzealous edge enhancement that's been applied to the first film's transfer, and the picture is decidedly less impressive for it. Likewise, artifacting and aliasing are frequent nuisances, and texture clarity waxes and wanes with each passing shot. Nostalgic enthusiasts will be quick to shrug off its lesser qualities, but stringent videophiles will most likely be disappointed with the results.
Turtles in Time
The third entry in the series boasts the best live-action 1080p/VC-1 transfer of the collection, but a cleaner original print and an abundance of daylit shots are responsible for the apparent enhancements. The palette is more vibrant this time around (especially after the turtles arrive in feudal Japan), blacks are noticeably deeper, and contrast is finally sturdy and strong. Better still, object edges and fine textures look more natural, and edge enhancement isn't nearly as intrusive (although the technique has still been utilized). Once again, grain is suspiciously docile, but the presentation makes Turtles in Time altogether more attractive than the first two films. Sadly, the transfer isn't perfect. Minor artifacting, faint banding, brief aliasing, a bit of source noise, and some softness detract from the otherwise pleasant picture and leave a lot of room for improvement. As it stands, I seriously doubt a critically panned live-action trilogy capper like this one will ever receive a more thorough overhaul, making the Blu-ray edition of Turtles in Time the best release fans are likely to see anytime in the near future.
Thank God for CG animation. TMNT serves up a gorgeous 1080p/VC-1 transfer (identical to its previously released 2007 Blu-ray incarnation) that offers series junkies more CG eye-candy than they can possibly handle. Colors are exceedingly vivid: greens ooze off the screen, primaries pop, and blacks are inky and absorbing. Detail is impeccable as well, making each scene a memorable treat. The turtles' final battle is packed with rustling leaves, hundreds of intricately rendered Foot Clan soldiers, and flying fur aplenty. Michaelangelo's sewer surfing is loaded with crumbling bricks, walls caked in flaking sealant, and pipes lined with rusty grime. And Leonardo and Raphael's rooftop battle -- easily one of the most gorgeous animated sequences in recent memory -- is swarming with beauty. The technical transfer is just as strong. Artifacting, aliasing, crush, and edge enhancement are nowhere to be found, and pixelation is never an issue. In fact, the only complaint I can muster about TMNT's presentation is that color banding regularly appears in the nighttime skies. Even so, it's a minor gripe at best; one that occasionally distracts, but never spoils Warner's stunning presentation.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Secret of the Ooze, and Turtles in Time
The three live-action films in the collection offer comparable Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround tracks, each of which handle the series' rather two-dimensional sound design with relative ease. In fact, the only differences I noticed between the three -- with regards to vocal clarity, rear speaker aggression, and soundfield immersion -- should be attributed to the differences in each entry's production values and original audio sources rather than the studio's individual lossless mixes. But I digress. While the film's various voice actors sound a bit disconnected from the rest of the cast, dialogue is generally clear and intelligible, prioritization is spot on, and LFE support injects some welcome weight into each performer's delivery. Sound effects tend to float above the soundfield as well, yet still pack enough bassy punch to remain effective. On a more positive note, pans are slick and smooth (especially for a trio of films that are more than fifteen years old), directionality is decent, and rear speaker activity, while light on overall oomph and legitimate presence, is commendable. If anything, the films' soundtracks are too intrusive, overwhelming several secondary soundscape elements and overshadowing background ambience. Regardless, Warner has done a fine job with each live-action film, and should be praised accordingly.
TMNT swings into action with a powerful Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track (identical to its 2007 Blu-ray counterpart) that captures every meaty kick, shrill sword clash, and deafening roar that frequents its wholly enveloping soundfield. Dialogue is crisp, clean, and perfectly prioritized, LFE output is staggering and precise, and rear speaker activity is simmering with all the nuances an audiophile could expect from the film's South American jungles, surging New York sewers, and chaotic battlegrounds. Moreover, freezer-burned gremlins scamper from channel to channel, clanking chains are flung outward from the screen, a vigilante's motorcycle tears across the soundfield, a massive security door collapses to the ground, an inter-dimensional rift surges with energy... I could go on, but I'd essentially have to mention the film's every sequence. To its credit, the track handles Munroe's more subdued character beats with the same effortless grace. Interior acoustics are convincing, ambience is inviting, and the slightest whisper and Splinter-hummed tune is given just as much attention as the film's bombastic action scenes. Granted, effects are occasionally a tad disjointed from the rest of the mix, but only the most discerning listeners will notice. Nitpicks aside, there's little else to say... TMNT sounds just as amazing as it looks.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, the Ninja Turtles Collection doesn't offer much in the way of supplemental content. The first three movies only include standard definition theatrical trailers, and TMNT limps into the set with the same lame special features that appeared on its original 2007 release (an exceedingly dull director's commentary, five minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, and seven all-too-short minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes, all in standard definition). Fans of the series will be most disappointed, especially considering the somewhat steep price of the set.
The box itself has already become the source of a lot of contention. Designed to resemble a cheap, cardboard pizza box, the case is... erm, a cheap, cardboard box that houses all four discs (printed to look like pizzas), an envelope with eight collectible character cards, a signed Kevin Eastman sketch, a black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of the first film, and a high-quality black beanie boasting the Ninja Turtle logo (mine was kid-sized, but a few other forum members have reported receiving larger beanies -- a discrepancy that's likely the result of production line inconsistencies). While I certainly wouldn't call it the worst box set I've ever seen, it definitely has a few problems. Not only does the case have a difficult time staying closed (it tends to push open a bit), the discs housed on the underside of the lid pop off any time the case is jarred, the bonus goodies fumble around if the beanie is removed, and the whole shebang looks quite ungainly compared to other box sets (even though it's about the same size as the Bourne Trilogy release).
As it stands, you'll either have to put up with the packaging, create your own custom cases (several forum members have already made some impressive headway with the project), or wait for Warner to release the first three films individually (which, considering the fact that Batman is still the only flick in the Batman Anthology to have received its own release, will probably require some major patience).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While hardcore turtles' fans have probably already placed their pre-orders, frugal Blu-ray adopters will face a more difficult choice. Not only is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collection a bit pricey, its live-action entries are saddled with problematic video transfers and its supplemental package is a joke. Moreover, the set itself will continue to be a source of contention for many; it may have been designed to look like a cheap pizza box, but... well, it looks like a cheap pizza box. Not exactly the sort of thing collectors will be eager to display on their shelves. Still, any TMNT fanatic (especially those with a printer who've downloaded our own madridista8700's impressive custom covers) will find their expectations have been surpassed. Weigh your options carefully, but proceed with confidence. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collection is a solid release worth some consideration.
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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a franchise in the purest form. Whether in comic book, video game, or - as the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection' captures - film form, the four talking turtles always used their advanced ninja skills to stop the ...
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