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December 19 2014
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
11/9/201410/12/2014ParamountJonathan Liebesman
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 7.1MMegan Fox

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The newly designed turtles have divided opinion.

Anyone who was a child in the 1980s would be familiar with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - a cartoon series that ran for years and had millions of fans the world over. While the franchise seems to have died off a bit - or perhaps we just got older - Paramount still had faith dropping massive amounts of money into this new film venture.

Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise- cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save the city and unravel Shredder's diabolical plan.

Director Jonathan Liebesman (whose previous directorial efforts include Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles) does a decent job in keeping this 101 minute film moving at a decent pace and injects the film with some moments of levity in what is otherwise a lot darker film then we were expecting. With Michael Bay producing the film there was little doubt that this would be pretty spectacular and there are some phenomenally entertaining action sequences littered throughout the film including a wonderful chase sequence through the snow and climactic action sequence on the top of a building and crane. Sadly the film falls down due to a pretty generic plot that is about as "by the numbers" as it can be.

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Megan Fox is actually great as April O'Neil.
Certainly the most controversial aspect of this film is the modified design of the turtles themselves. They now have lips which makes some sense given they talk, but they also appear a lot bulkier then their cartoon counterparts which makes some of their martial arts moves unrealistic. Ultimately, we didn't mind the redesign as much as we thought we might.

Perhaps what is a surprise is that the film has an M rating here in Australia - obviously it's hard to imagine a bunch of ninjas having a G or PG rated film - but it's pretty impressive that Paramount went down the path of making this more mature then it could have been. Indeed there is quite a bit of action in this film so parents of youngsters - we're talking those below their teens - probably need to be aware that this is a bit more mature then the cartoons we grew up on.

Ultimately I was left in two minds about this film - it has some fantastic action sequences and the turtles look great with a few wisecracks thrown in but ultimately it's a pretty mundane script. Oh, and not having Bebop and Rocksteady - two of Shredder's main henchmen (well, a warthog and rhinoceros) was bitterly disappointing and something that the filmmakers have confirmed they are looking to rectify in the sequel.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles won't go down as a great action film, however it provides enough thrills to make it worth checking out for a nostalgia trip or for those with teenage kids.

If there is one thing that is absolutely nailed on this Blu-Ray it's the video transfer which is an absolute cracker and exactly what you would expect from a major Hollywood blockbuster. Using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Naturally a lot of the film is CG based - including the four turtles - and the 1080p HD resolution allows these visuals to shine with great contrast levels and fine detail evident throughout while the action sequences look stunning at all times.

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In the elevator - and needing some music!
Those of you with a 3DTV may want to opt for that version as, apparently it offers a superb transfer with great 3D moments which is demonstrated in one of the extras on this 2D Blu-Ray (which is playable in 3D - more on that later).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is encoded in the new English Dolby Atmos format which allows people with the correct receiver and speaker setup to get multidimensional sound, with support for speakers in the ceiling as well. As such a new format we don't expect many people to have that setup - and neither do we - so the soundtrack then defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track that, just like the visuals, is a stunning experience.

From the aggressive use of surround sound channels and sub-woofer for the LFE channel this is an audio tour de force with crystal clear dialogue and effects, and some upbeat music. It's fair to say this is reference quality audio all the way.

This Blu-Ray includes several other audio options including audio tracks in German, Spanish, French, Hindi and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps as well as an English Audio Description Track also encoded with the same specs. Subtitles are available in Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Hindi, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish and English for the Hearing Impaired.

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Master Splinter talks to the team.
While not loaded with extras, there are a few on this disc worth spending a few minutes looking at, but also a few bullet point fillers for the back of the box!

Digital Reality (17:56/HD): As expected this is a very CG heavy film with the turtles all CG based and this featurette looks at creating those visuals including pre-viz sequences, motion capturing the actors and turning them into the CG Turtles at ILM including differences between the turtles and cosmetic changes - including the need for lips for speech. There's nothing we haven't seen before from other productions, but interesting nonetheless.

In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D (4:23/HD): Playable in 2D or 3D (if you have the right equipment) this featurette looks at process of making a 3D film and how the effect is used to add some extra thrills. One thing is certain, the 3D here looks amazing and we wish we had the 3D Blu-Ray to watch!

It Ain't Easy Being Green (6:47/HD): A little EPKish this sees the filmmakers talking about their favourite turtles and then the actors talking about the set and the friendships they formed.

Evolutionary Mash-Up (14:59/HD): Quite an interesting piece about the evolution of turtles from their first forms 220 million years ago, and the history of the Ninja in Japan.

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April O'Neil (Megan Fox) checking things out.
Turtle Rock (5:37/HD): This segment looks at Brian Tyler composing and scoring the music for the film including using instruments from the Far East.

Extended Ending (0:46/HD): Very brief, but a nice little scene that could have been kept in the final film.

"Shell Shocked" Music Video (3:27/HD): The music video clip to go with the film as performed by Juicy J. Moxie, Ty dolla Sign and Wiz Khalifa. It's pretty meh really...

Making of "Shell Shocked" (1:31/HD): If having the video clip isn't enough here we have the "back of box filling" piece about making the song which, for 80% of the time is just the song being played.

Fans of the franchise may ultimately be left with mixed minds about this film, however with some great visual effects, decent humour, and a decent turn by Megan Fox as April O'Neil it's worth checking out. Just don't expect a masterpiece up there with the artwork by the hero's own namesakes.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.