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Jonathan Liebesman
Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg
Writing Credits:
Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty

The leader. The brains. The attitude. And Mikey.

When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home.

Box Office:
$125 million.
Opening Weekend
$65,000,000 on 3,845 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 12/16/2014

• “Digital Reality” Featurette
• “In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D” Featurette
• “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” Featurette
• “Evolutionary Mash-Up” Featurette
• “Turtle Rock” Featurette
• Extended Ending
• “Shell Shocked” Music Video
• “The Making of ‘Shell Shocked’” Featurette
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 14, 2014)

Though the franchise probably peaked in the early 1990s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles never really went away. For the first time since 2007’s TMNT, the characters return to the big screen with 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

New York City TV news reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) gets stuck with mundane puff pieces, but she aspires to cover more serious material. She tracks a gang known as the “Foot Clan” and attempts to get the goods on their shadowy activity.

Along the way, April shoots Foot shenanigans – and receives a massive surprise when a mysterious vigilante attacks the baddies. April pursues more of this person and soon learns that he works as part of a foursome.

When April tracks the warriors, she soon learns that they’re mutated humanoid turtles named Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and Leonardo (motion-capture acted by Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville). Trained in martial arts, they work under the tutelage of a similarly-altered rat named Splinter (acted by Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub) and they aspire to keep NYC safe. We follow their attempts to deal with the Foot, the clan’s leader Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and connected issues.

As someone in my twenties when the franchise exploded in the late 80s/early 90s, I was a little too old to really embrace it. Granted, the original mid-80s comic book was more parody than anything else and didn’t shoot for the kiddie crowd, but before long, licensing set the characters down their soon-achieved path to domination with youngsters.

Despite my “advanced age” of 23 when the original movie came out in 1990, I thought it offered decent entertainment. However, I didn’t like it or its sequels enough to become a fan of the franchise, and that didn’t change over the ensuing decades.

As a 47-year-old, clearly I’m not getting closer to the franchise’s target group. To paraphrase David Wooderson, I get older and Turtles fans stay the same age. Nonetheless, I retain enough affection for goofy action flicks that I thought I might enjoy the series’ 2014 “reboot”.

Alas, I couldn’t make much of a connection to Turtles. One can debate how much of that stems from my age/preferences and how much relates to the quality of the movie itself, though I’d going to pin the “blame” on the flick itself. At times, Turtles fulfills the series’ potential for fun and excitement, but it flails too much of the time to become a consistent pleasure.

On the positive side, Turtles displays pretty good production values, with fairly high-quality computer animation on display. The 1990s films went with actors in suits, and those techniques worked pretty well for the first pair of movies. 1993’s Turtles in Time came with cheap/unappealing effects, but the Henson Studio’s creations in the 1990 and 1991 movies still seem satisfactory.

That said, the CG characters seen in the 2014 Turtles work at a much higher level than those old animatronics ever could. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of CG, but when done well, those techniques can satisfy, and that proves to be the case here – in the case of the turtles themselves, at least. Splinter looks less convincing, but the four leads come across nicely.

At times, Turtles also manifests a good sense of action and verve. When it allows the lead amphibians to do their thing, the flick can become lively and exciting, as those moments give us the excitement we seek. This becomes especially true during a vehicle chase/battle in snowy confines; that sequence delivers terrific thrills.

Unfortunately, Turtles spends an awful lot of time with April, other humans and an unnecessarily complicated plot. Granted, most “origin stories” come burdened by more talk than rock, but Turtles doesn’t really suffer due to the usual exposition. The movie gives us basics about how the various parties came to be, but it doesn’t dally on these areas.

Instead, Turtles focuses on its murky narrative to the exclusion of too much else. At least until the ending, the movie seems afraid to cut loose and just have fun, so it sticks us with a slow, plodding plot that fails to come to life. These elements bog down everything else and make the movie turgid much of the time.

Don’t expect much from the human actors. Actually, Will Arnett adds a little spice as April’s lovesick cameraman Vern Fenwick, but others like William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg look like they showed up just to collect paychecks.

Fox got a lot of negative reviews for her take on April, and I think those overstate her lack of ability. However, that doesn’t mean I feel Fox does well in the part. She seems perfectly mediocre as our lead human; while I don’t believe she harms the movie, she also fails to add life to the character.

All of this leaves Turtles as a mixed bag. While it occasionally delivers an enjoyable ride, it suffers from too many lulls to satisfy on a consistent basis.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, this was a terrific visual presentation.

For Turtles, Michael Bay acted as producer and not director, but one will find the typical Bay palette nonetheless. This meant teal and orange dominated, and while that trend was predictable, I couldn’t complain about the replication, as the hues looked strong within their stylistic constraints. Blacks came across as dark and tight, and shadows appeared smooth and easily discernible.

Sharpness worked well. Only the slightest sliver of softness ever affected wide shots, so the vast majority of the movie brought us terrific clarity and definition. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to materialize. All in all, this offered a fine visual presentation.

Still new to home entertainment, Turtles comes with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack – if you own the equipment to play it. The track works on standard Blu-ray players but requires an Atmos-equipped receiver – as well as more speakers – to achieve its full effect. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade for Atmos, but that day isn’t today.

Happily, the Atmos mix plays back as Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those of us with “antiquated” systems, so that’s how I heard it. The soundfield presented an active and lively piece that constantly engaged the various speakers. The film showed distinctive imagery throughout the movie that placed different auditory elements accurately within the spectrum and meshed them together nicely.

Music provided strong stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the appropriate locations. Quieter scenes displayed natural ambience, while the many action pieces involved engrossing and vibrant imaging. The climax seemed especially good, but the whole movie utilized the channels in a compelling manner.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech consistently appeared natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic as the disc neatly replicated the score.

Effects packed a nice wallop when necessary, as these elements seemed clean and distinct at all times. Bass response came across as deep and tight, and the low-end added a good layer of depth and oomph to the package. This was a soundtrack to challenge your subwoofer, as it really administered a heavy punch. I thought this was a consistently impressive soundtrack.

Next we find a mix of featurettes. Digital Reality goes for 17 minutes, 56 seconds and includes comments from director Jonathan Liebesman, visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman, animation supervisor Tim Harrington, producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, facial performance capture leads Kirani Bhat and Michael Koperwas, ILM visual effects supervisor Robert Weaver, lead creature technical director James Tooley, digital artist supervisor Dan Wheaton, and actors Alan Ritchson, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, and Noel Fisher. The show covers character design and execution as well as integrating CG characters in a live-action world. Despite a lot of praise, the program comes with a good array of details and teaches us a lot about the various techniques used in the film.

For a look at the 3D version of the film, we go to In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D. This lasts four minutes, 23 seconds as it features Liebesman, Wheaton, Helman, Weaver, and associate animation supervisor Kevin Martel. As expected, the show examines elements of the movie’s 3D photography. Though brief, the piece includes some useful notes.

During the six-minute, 47-second It Ain’t Easy Being Green, we hear from Ritchson, Ploszek, Fox, Howard, Fisher, Arnett, Form, and Fuller. We get info about cast, characters and performances as well as shooting in New York and sets. Fairly fluffy in tone, “Green” still delivers a mix of informative bits, and I like the behind the scenes footage.

Something called Evolutionary Mash-Up fills 14 minutes, 59 seconds and features Natural History Museum of LA County Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians Dr. Greg Pauly and Martial Arts History Museum president Michael Matsuda. “Mash-Up” tells us a little about the histories of turtles and ninjas. What, no details about teenagers or mutants? Anyway, “Mash-Up” provides neat little synopses of ninjas and turtles.

Turtle Rock runs five minutes, 37 seconds and delivers info from composer Brian Tyler. As expected, he gives us thoughts about the music he wrote for the film. Not much of anything all that compelling shows up in this brief, perfunctory chat.

An Extended Ending takes up a mere 46 seconds. This shows a newscast from April that adds a little coda to the adventure. It doesn’t do anything interesting.

After this we get a music video for “Shell Shocked” by Juicy J. Moxie, Ty dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa. It mixes lip-synch performance and movie shots. Neither the song nor the video do anything for me.

Finally, the disc boasts The Making of “Shell Shocked”, a one-minute, 31-second piece with notes from musician Wiz Khalifa. He tells us he loves the Turtles and we see some shots from the studio. It couldn’t be more boring if it tried.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Turtles. It includes none of the Blu-ray’s extras.

Rebooted for a new generation, 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offers some good production values and occasional action fun. However, much of the potential excitement gets buried beneath a clumsy, slow story that robs the piece of much flair and adventure. The Blu-ray brings us excellent picture and audio as well as a decent package of bonus features. Turtles doesn’t fizzle but it doesn’t soar, either.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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