Release Date(s)2014 (December 16, 2014)
Studio(s)Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: C-
If there’s anything that can be said about this new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, it’s that the geek community was in an uproar about it from the very beginning. Every piece of information that was released about the movie during all stages of the production was met with mostly negative response. Everything from Michael Bay producing it to the original idea that the turtles would be aliens from outer space (which was scrapped in pre-production) to the final look of the turtles, which made them look bulkier than ever before with both nostrils and lips. I was certainly a part of that group of people, and some of the negative response was certainly understandable. That being said, I decided to give the movie a shot anyways, and I thought that the best way to see it would be with a crowd of kids with their families, which is what I did.
Despite myself slightly enjoying this new TMNT, it definitely falls short of being a good movie in any capacity. It’s neither as bad as you would expect it to be, nor is it as good as you would hope it would be. But for some, it was more worse than anything else. Seeing it with a crowd of kids really gave me a lot more perspective about the movie than I would normally have had if I had just waited for it to be released on home video. The movie played fairly well, and the kids in the theater were sort of enthralled with the movie, riding the action-oriented moments and laughing at the comedy bits. So for them, it was an enjoyable movie, and that’s really the best thing I can say about this new movie is that kids do enjoy it, and that’s a good thing.
I think from the very beginning, when the movie was announced, everyone knew that they were going to get an inferior product no matter what. It was just a full-blown conclusion, especially when everyone heard of Michael Bay’s involvement with it. That being said, the turtles themselves are still the same turtles we’ve seen in their previous incarnations. They’re still wise-cracking teenagers with great interplay between the four of them. The movie also features a lot more violence than I was expecting. I don’t mean blood and gore or anything, but just violence in general. Splinter, for instance, takes quite a beating when he decides to get involved in the fighting. Some of the action scenes are also pretty-well done, especially the scene wherein the turtles slide down the side of a snowy mountain on the side of a semi-truck. It doesn’t make a lot of sense logically, sure, but it was an enjoyable sequence. Anything is better than nothing.
The biggest flaw of the movie, in my opinion, is the casting of Megan Fox. I’ve never been a fan of her nor any of the projects that she’s taken part in. She’s such a non-actor that it’s ridiculous, and she runs around in this movie pretending to be a character that is way out of her range with her mouth agape for almost the entire running time. In fact, you could change the title of this movie to Megan Fox is Always Out of Breath. As for the rest of the cast, it’s not even worth getting into. All of the human characters are just bland and uninteresting. It almost seems intentional to me, as if they wanted to make these people seem less interesting than the turtles, Splinter, and the villains. They certainly succeeded, if that was the case.
And yet, even with all of these flaws, some of the action scenes and the turtles as characters I enjoyed for the most part. In all honesty, I doubt that I’ll ever watch it again, and there’s no way I can fully recommend it to other people, especially TMNT fans. The quality falls right down the middle and you’re likely to forget most of the movie mere days after seeing it. So it’s not a memorable movie, but it’s not entirely bad either. If you can look past the flaws and watch it for the reasons that I mentioned, you might just get some sort of enjoyment out of this movie. It’s a tough sell, I know, but it’s the best that I can do.
Whatever misgivings are had about the movie itself, the Blu-ray presentation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is outstanding. There is a strong high definition presentation with an enormous amount of image detail, a beautiful color palette, accurate skin tones, deep and inky black levels, terrific shadow detail, and perfect brightness and contrast levels. There are also no attempts to digitally sharpen or enhance the images unnaturally. It’s perfect visually, as well as aurally. For this release, you’re given the option of watching the movie in the new English Dolby Atmos format, as well as French, Spanish, and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. There’s also an additional English Audio Description track for those who might need it. The new Dolby Atmos format requires specific equipment in order to take full advantage of it, but for those who aren’t able to, the track is still fully capable of producing a 7.1 experience no matter what system you’re using. I, myself, don’t have Atmos-ready equipment, so I can’t give it a full review. That being said, the audio is, like its video counterpart, fantastic. This is a showroom sound system track for sure, with every bit of sonic fidelity and dynamic range that you could possibly hope for. Surround activity is always active and immersive, dialogue is always clear and audible at all times, and low end frequencies really give your subwoofer a workout. So if you live in a small apartment, this is not a soundtrack you want to crank for fear of being evicted. It’s a rock solid soundtrack that goes along with a perfect presentation, overall. And for those who might need them, there are also subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
As for the extras, it’s not really good news. You get a handful of promotional featurettes (Digital Reality, In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D, It Ain’t Easy Being Green, Evolutionary Mash-Up, and Turtle Rock), an extended ending which is only under a minute long, a music video for the song “Shell Shocked”, and a Making of “Shell Shocked” featurette. Slim pickings really. On the DVD that’s been included, you’ll find audio options available in English, French, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital (as well as the English Audio Description track); subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese; and a set of previews. There’s also a paper insert with Ultraviolet and Digital Copy codes in the case. What’s more, the copy that I received also came with a set of four ninja masks for the kiddies. Your copy may or may not come with this, but mine did, so I thought it was worth mentioning.
Overall, I’d recommend a rental first for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before committing to a purchase of this release. Despite the stellar presentation, it’s not a movie that everybody likes or is going to like, especially old school TMNT fans. It’s definitely not for that audience, and not only that, but the audience that it’s intended for may not enjoy it either. Personally, I enjoyed certain parts of it rather than the movie as a whole, so I don’t discredit it completely. It is what it is, and you can ignore if you choose to. But for a Blu-ray presentation of the film, you can’t get any better than this one.
- Tim Salmons