Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (4 Movie Boxset) 
Blu-ray Action-Adventure
Written by Noah Fleming   
Tuesday, 11 August 2009

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The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is perhaps one of the only action adventure sagas that is limited to a couple generations, in terms of the originals.  I grew up on the turtles animated series, the original cartoon, not the plethora of remakes that have gone around.  I collected all the action figures and still have them in mint condition.  I played the Turtles game on my Gameboy and Nintendo systems.  I believe I even have some of the original collector's cards.  When the movies came out in consecutive years, 1990, 1991, and 1992 they were hit among my age group.  Then, the turtles disappeared, not to be heard from again until just a few year ago.  The cartoon was resurrected and a CGI feature was created.

This rebirth has inspired the younger crowd of today.  The youngsters have even become aware of the original start to the turtles saga.  Just the other day I saw my niece, 15 years of age, wearing a Turtles T-shirt referencing the original turtles animated cartoon.  It was very nice to see that not all has been lost from my adolescence on future generations.

Anyway, New Line has answered my nostalgic sensation with the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Boxset.  This set contains the three original turtles movies as well as the 2007 CGI feature, which has previously been released on HD DVD and Blu-ray.

Because the films speak a lot to me, despite the pitfalls incurred by the sequels, all four films get 3.5/5 stars from me.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

The original feature was released in 1990, though it may as well have been the 1980s as that is what the cinematography looks like.  In the original, the four turtles, along with Splinter, begin their journey from the sewer into the human world.  When news reporter April (Judith Hoag) gets into trouble, the turtles are there to help her out.  Their not so ninja-like stealth factor leads to an investigation by April as to who these creatures are.

Meanwhile the Foot Clan, led by Master Shredder, is on a crime spree around New York City.  When the Foot discovers where the turtles hideout is located, they ratnap Master Splinter.  The turtles will stop at nothing to get Splinter back.  However, before they can move into action, they and April are caught in the middle of a Foot attack.  With the apartment building in flames, everyone escapes to a farmhouse.  Having joined in, Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) helps the team plan to rescue Splinter.  Stubborn Raphael got himself knock unconscious, slowing the team's progress.

Upon returning to the city, Casey follows a traitor to the secret hideout of the Foot.  The turtles go back to fighting the Foot, waiting to take on the Shredder.  Casey rescues Splinter from the Foot's hold.  The final battle between Turtles and Shredder is not full of fancy action, but has a solid foundation that it is enjoyable.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze"

This sequel is disliked by a great many.  I for one find it almost better than the original.  It is much more smartly paced and the adventure is better.  Not too mention is has a terrific cameo by Vanilla Ice (ok, just kidding about the "terrific" part.  Although I must admit "Ninja Rap" is catchy).  The sequel digs up the past, in which the turtles try to figure out where they came from.  April, played by a much better Paige Turco, leads the way by doing a story on TGRI, an experimental lab company is secretly trying to cover up the remnants of the toxic spill 15 years ago.

Master Shredder is back and out for revenge.  His spy on April's news crew retrieves information about this secret ooze with mutating properties.  They kidnap the professor (David Warner) along with the last active bottle of ooze, all despite the turtles' valiant attempt to stop them.  Shredder uses that ooze to create Tokka and Rahzar from a dog and a tortoise.  The two are not the brightest bulb in the shed, but that have tremendous strength.

The turtles are able to rescue the professor and he helps them to create an anti-mutagen.  I believe the final showdown in this film is better than the first.  It has more martial arts and adventure.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time"

Many view this film as a complete disaster.  Yes, it does diverge from the New York City scene, but the adventure is interesting nonetheless.  It is probably just because I was a fan of all things turtles.  I will admit that I am not the most objective when it comes to this saga, but it really isn't that bad.

In Turtles III, April (Paige Turco) unearths a Japanese relic that transports her back to Feudal Japan, and brings the Master's son to New York City.  The four turtles journey back in time to rescue April.  Casey is left in New York to take care of the five misplaced time travelers.  Meanwhile, in Feudal Japan, Lord Norinaga (Sab Shiimono) is convinced that April and the Turtles are witches and demons.

With Walker (Stuart Wilson), an Englishman, trying to arm the Japanese with guns, the Turtles must hurry in order to keep the upper hand.  Lord Norinaga is prepared to attack a village in order to destroy his so-called demons.  The turtles are unable to leave until they find the magic scepter that brought them there in the first place.  It was lost when they first transported back in time.  Rest assured, the turtles will not leave the village in danger.

As a note: The voices of the four turtles change from movie to movie.  The voice of Leonardo remains the same the first and second movies.  Other than that, each of the four turtles have different voices in each of the three movies.  The most notable voice is Corey Feldman, who voices Donatello in the first film.


The fourth disc in the bunch is the 2007 CGI feature, "TMNT."  This is my least favorite of the bunch personally, only because I am stuck on the original turtles.  However, taken for what it is, it does have a decent adventure story.  I only get distracted because I do not like the modern animation of the turtles.  It strays way off the original animation's path.

In the CGI feature, Leonardo is off in solitary, trying to become a better leader.  Raphael remains stubborn tries to contain the turtles' crime fighting agenda.  When April locates Leonardo by accident, she persuades him to come home.

Meanwhile, monsters have been terrorizing New York City.  These monsters stem from an ancient civilization of immortal warriors.  Winters is a powerful CEO that has artifacts from every era.  He holds a big secret though that puts everyone’s lives in jeopardy.

The animated feature has much bigger voice character actors including: Sarah Michelle Gellar as April, Laurence Fishburne as the narrator, Patrick Stewart as Winters, and Chris Evans as Casey.  Personally I love the live action movies a whole lot more than this CGI film.  Still it is an interesting addition to the turtles saga.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" – Video Quality 2.5/5

As I expected, the video quality of the first film is extremely rough.  Black levels are subpar leaving a very dark and flat image.  Shadow delineation is virtually non-existent, swallowing up any shred of details.  Film grain is ever present and very distracting due to the large granules.  Colors are decent but hardly pop from the screen.  Unfortunately, all the imperfections of this film are brought out by the 1080p video transfer.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" – Video Quality 3.5/5

I am pleased to report that the VC-1 video quality of the second film is much improved over the first.  Only one year later but leaps and bounds better.  The image is much brighter.  The balance between contrast and brightness is more consistent and eye pleasing.  The colors now start to pop from the screen.  Details are now distinguishable.  However, the black levels are still not as deep as they could be.  In addition, textures appeared smudged.  Fleshtones are accurate and edges a defined much better than in the first film.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time" – Video Quality 4/5

The third film is basically on the same level as the second film.  It still suffers from minor inconsistency in the black levels and smudged textures.  Film grain does not consist of large granules but is still present, as in the second film.  This is fine though as it adds a film-like appearance.  The colors are much more bold and vibrant, almost to the point of oversaturation.  Fleshtones are once again accurate and details are good.  Shadow delineation falls once more during the nighttime Feudal Japan sequences.  Still both this and second film are great upgrades from the standard DVD transfer.

"TMNT" – Video Quality 4.5/5

The CGI film of course has the best transfer of the bunch.  It is the same transfer as the previously released Blu-ray version of the film.  Black levels are rich and inky.  Shadow delineation is not as good as a lot of the digital animations, such as "Bolt."  Colors are balanced nicely, as are brightness and contrast levels.  Details are sharp, but textures are flat for an animation.  There is no grain as this is a digital animation.  Edges are also nicely defined.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" – Audio Quality 3.5/5
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" – Audio Quality 3.5/5
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time" – Audio Quality 3.5/5

All three of the first films have roughly the same audio quality.  It gets ever so slightly better as they progress, but not quite enough to increase the rating.  Dialogue is anchored in the center channel and is a little unbalanced here and there, but by and large is clear and present.  Interior acoustics are noticeable in the sewer systems, but then fall short in the New York City sequences.  The LFE channel gets a little better along the way, but is primarily reserved for the music track.  However, there are LFE occurrences in a few of the more action-packed sequences.  Enveloping is not the best, but it is surprisingly more discreet than I would have expected for the age of the film.  Discreet effects in the surrounds pop up here and there and have fairly decent directionality and panning.  If there is any reason to buy this boxset other than nostalgia, it is because of these remastered, remixed Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio tracks.  Good job New Line.

"TMNT" – Audio Quality 4.5/5

The 2007 CGI hit of course has tremendous audio.  Many animated features are defined by their sound.  While, this animation packs quite a punch.  All the action sequences are full of effects that are nicely panned and placed around the soundscape.  The LFE channel is nicely balanced in the mix.  Dialogue is cleanly recorded and blended nicely into the whole of the audio track.  Sometimes the effects don't blend with the rest of the audio track and distract from the viewing experience, but on the whole this is a great audio track.

Waiting all this time, I was dumbfounded at the lack of special features.  The extent of the bonus materials is really the stuff that comes inside the box.  The Blu-ray collector's edition (FYI: I'm not sure why it is called a 25th Anniversary edition if the first movie didn't come out until 1990.  Perhaps they are basing 25 years on the debut of the cartoon.) comes with four Blu-ray discs, one disc per movie.  Unfortunately, the box is rather clunky.  The discs are mounted to the top and bottom of the box with extra stuff packed in between.  However, the discs are stacked on top of each other, making direct access to discs two and four impossible.  You WILL most certainly want to get four blank Blu-ray cases for this collection.  Be aware that there is a high probability that the top disc will come dislodged from the snapping ring, which may cause scratching.

The only bonus material for the first three movies is a theatrical trailer for each on its corresponding disc.  That is a real bummer.  The "TMNT" disc contains the same bonus materials available on the previous Blu-ray release of the movie.  There is a director's audio commentary, deleted scenes and a few minutes of behind the scenes interviews.

Inside the cardboard box you will find the supplemental package.  There is a beanies cap with the Turtles logo embroidered on it.  There is "Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie" in comic book form.  There is a set of eight postercards, each featuring a member of the turtles saga.  Lastly, there is a pre-autographed slip of paper.

That is all in terms of bonus materials and package contents.  It's really not a whole lot considering the potential of the saga.  On the plus side though, the audio quality is a nice upgrade from any of the standard DVDs.  Also, nostalgia is going to play a large part in whether or not you are going to buy this set.  You might want to hold out for the individual disc releases, but for those that can't wait and just want the films on Blu-ray without special features then you will love this set, short of its packaging.
Studio New Line Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating PG
Starring Elias Koteas, Judith Hoag, Corey Feldman, Paige Turco, David Warner, Ernie Reyes Jr., Stuart Wilson, Vivian Wu, Sab Shimono, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Patrick Stewart, Laurence Fishburne, Chris Evans
Director Steve Barron, Michael Pressman, Stuart Gillard, Kevin Munroe
Film Release Year 1990, 1991, 1992, 2007
Release Year 2009
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 480i (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 • 1.85:1
Running Time 1 hr. 33 mins., 1 hr. 28 mins., 1 hr. 36 mins., 1 hr. 27 mins.
Sound Formats English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 • English Dolby Digital 5.1 • French Dolby Digital 5.1 • French Dolby Digital 2.0 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • English • French • Spanish
Special Features Movie 1 - 3: Theatrical Trailer

Movie 4: Director Audio Commentary; Deleted Scenes; Behind-the-Scenes Footage

Package: Beanie Cap; 8 Poster Cards; 1 Pre-Signed Sketch; 1 Comic Book
Forum Link http://www.avrev.com/forum
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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