DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie poster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Theatrical Release: August 8, 2014 / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jonathan Liebesman / Writers: Josh Appelbaum, Andrι Nemec, Evan Daugherty (screenplay); Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters)

Cast: Megan Fox (April O'Neil), Will Arnett (Vernon Fenwick), William Fichtner (Eric Sacks), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), Johnny Knoxville (voice of Leonardo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Danny Woodburn (Splinter), Tony Shalhoub (voice of Splinter), Tohoru Masamune (Shredder), Whoopi Goldberg (Bernadette Thompson), Minae Noji (Karai), Abby Elliott (Taylor), Madison Mason (Councilman), Taran Killam (McNaughton), K. Todd Freeman (Dr. Baxter Stockman), Paul Fitzgerald (Dr. O'Neil), Malina Weissman (Young April O'Neil)

Buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D Combo • Blu-ray 3D Gift Set • Blu-ray Combo • DVD • Instant Video

People have been wanting to reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a while. The franchise that began in 1984 with a little comic book, became an animated television series and popular toy line, and peaked with an early '90s trilogy of live-action films never really went away.
The Turtles have maintained a presence on television, mostly in animated form, for all but a few years at the turn of the millennium. They even got a major motion picture in 2007's CG-animated TMNT, which opened strong but faded fast. Still, it was easy to view the Turtles as a fondly-recalled '80s property that was ripe for being discovered by a new generation. That approach had worked for Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Smurfs, both of which spawned blockbuster films with major global appeal.

A new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally arrived this summer, modeled less after those PG-rated family comedies than the Transformers series, whose director/executive producer Michael Bay would serve as first-billed producer here. Bay, who had a public falling out with original Transformers leading lady Megan Fox (who likened the filmmaker to Hitler), would patch things up with the actress and give her the top-billed human role of April O'Neil, the Turtles' reporter friend.

We open with some Turtles mythos: the four human-sized, super powerful ninja turtles live in New York's sewers and, per the instructions of their master/father, human-sized rat Splinter, avoid ascending to the surface. Then, we check in with Ms. O'Neil, who loses her signature yellow jumpsuit but keeps her profession. April would actually love to be taken seriously as a journalist, but for now she is stuck with frothy remote assignments along with cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett).

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello -- size up reporter April O'Neil.

April thinks she's got her big break when she spots a stealthy vigilante standing up to the Foot Clan that has cornered New York's organized crime business. But, when she digs deeper and discovers that the vigilante is actually a group of four mutant turtles named after Renaissance artists (Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo), she is laughed right out of a job (by a scarcely featured Whoopi Goldberg). April's independent investigations lead her to discover that she actually knew these turtles as a child and that they were part of an experiment conducted at the company of her late father. She brings this news to the attention of the company's namesake and CEO, Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). And while you might be relieved to see Fichtner playing something other than a villain, that sentiment is premature.

Not much more needs to be said about the plot. The Turtles have a mutagen coursing through their veins that gives them great power. They like pizza. Oh, and they're up against someone with evil plans for world domination which involve feeding the people dangerous toxins and then being the only one who can sell them the antidotes.

As producer, Bay does not assert his brand of filmmaking over the movie, allowing seasoned young South African director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) to do things his own way. As a result, Turtles is not frantically edited, incoherently shot, or bloated. Nonetheless, it also is not at all very good. Liebesman may spare us the technical headaches that render the Transformers movies a mindless chore, but he doesn't give us anything substantial or satisfying in their place.

April O'Neil (Megan Fox) reconnects with their Turtles' father/master Splinter.

Veteran J.J. Abrams duo Josh Appelbaum and Andrι Nemec, who made their feature debut on the exceptionally well-received Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,
and Evan Daugherty, who has contributed to the box office hits Divergent and Snow White and the Huntsman, share credit on the problematic screenplay, which fails to find the fun in the premise or the personality in the characters. Michelangelo's playful nature comes across and Donatello's glasses out him as a nerd. But the decision to make these turtles legitimate action heroes as opposed to the wise-cracking dudes '80s kids grew up on does not make the experience very enjoyable. There are more than enough world-saving superheroes in the movies these days. What there isn't is an abundance of oddballs who fill the role unconventionally. That fact accounts for much of the appeal of the year's biggest domestic hit, the acclaimed and obviously franchisable Guardians of the Galaxy.

You can understand the writers and director not wanting to treat this foursome like giant green Smurfs. And yet, comedies like Smurfs and G-Force seem more directly comparable than overcooked genuine spectacle action effects extravaganzas like Transformers. I don't really consider one of those classes better than the others. The thing is, and most of you who have seen all of these movies would agree, I don't know that we need any more of these types of movies designed to resurrect and reinforce brands. The best of the summer's popcorn fare -- Guardians, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Edge of Tomorrow -- had brains, heart, and stories and characters worth investing in and caring for. Turtles has literally none of those things, leaving you to take pleasure in only the most trivial of details. Like: oh, this snowy downhill action sequence at least offers something different from the usual urban destruction. (Next set piece: urban destruction.)

The film strikes out as a comedy, as an action-adventure, as something with four-quadrant appeal. It is less a film than an assault on the senses, one that doesn't engage your eyes or ears enough to justify that design, even with a number of effects clearly designed for 3D enjoyment. There is intrusive product placement that defies logic: pizza aficionados in New York City aren't going to get their fix from Pizza Hut. There is subpar casting; Fox is not someone you want carrying a dramatic load. The movie actually needs a human actress who can really act and primarily across from ridiculously-dressed motion capture performers; Fox doesn't even look comfortable in finding an appropriate eyeline with her digital co-stars.

You don't know character actor William Fichtner if you think he's playing a character as noble as he initially seems. Will Arnett does a passable job as comic relief cameraman Vernon Fenwick.

I wish that Paramount Pictures wasn't so enamored with this kind of tentpole. One of the oldest movie studios (they distributed the first Best Picture winner Wings back in 1927), they have repeatedly adapted to the times in agreeable fashion, from working with Hitchcock in the '50s to Francis Ford Coppola in '70s to Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Eddie Murphy in the '80s. It is depressing to see a studio with such history reduced to making just a few movies every year, most of which seem to exist more to sell toys and backpacks than to tell stories. On the plus side, they haven't completely abandoned serious filmmaking; they've got a good shot at featuring in the Oscars' Best Picture race with Selma and, though now considered a long shot for such a nomination, Interstellar is one of 2014's very best. Such releases seem to be exceptions to the game plan, however, with their upcoming schedule full of sequels few would call promising, like Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, which is sure to have its titular number replaced by a colon and subtitle, has officially been slated for an early June 2016 opening.

On a purely financial basis, it's tough to argue with Paramount's strategy. Turtles was obliterated by critics, but still managed to command a respectable $191 million domestically and an additional $286 M from foreign markets. Even with a steep production budget of $125 M (presumably mostly spent on effects?), there was obvious profit made in theaters and more from all the inevitable tie-ins.

Just in time for Christmas, Turtles hits stores this week in a DVD, a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo, the three-disc Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo reviewed here, and a Blu-ray 3D gift set with Raphael statue.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; Blu-ray Film only: English SDH
DVD Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 16, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $54.99
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (2 BD-50s & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD ($39.99 SRP), Blu-ray 3D Gift Set with Raphael Statue ($109.99 SRP), standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles raises many concerns, but few of them are technical in nature. While there probably aren't visual effects and sound Oscar nominations on the horizon, the production is no slouch on either front. Like most Paramount Blu-rays, this one boasts terrific picture and sound. The 2.40:1 transfer is entirely without issue. The soundtrack, meanwhile, identified as Dolby Atmos (but registering on your player as Dolby TrueHD 7.1, is very lively and immersive. This is not a movie like Gravity or Interstellar, where you can dislike the plot and still be enamored with the technical facets. But it's impossible to deny the impact that the razor-sharp picture and dynamic sound mix will have on a home theater.

Megan Fox acts across from a man in a gray motion capture half-shell as part of our "Digital Reality." "It Ain't Easy Being Green" offers looks at the practically-built Turtles' underground lair.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD bonus features begin with "Digital Reality: How Computers Create Movies in the 21st Century" (17:56),
a general making-of featurette. Complemented by behind-the-scenes and a variety of production footage (from face capture to pre-vis animatics), talking heads consider how the movie could reinvent the characters slightly, the logistics of using motion capture performances and computer animation, stunts and fight choreography.

"In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D" (4:23), which can be viewed in either 3D or 2D, discusses the film's use of the third dimension, showcasing moments that most capitalize on it.

"It Ain't Easy Being Green" (6:47) lets the younger cast members voice their lifelong appreciation for the Turtles, before talking about filming in public places in New York City and on the big Turtles' Lair set.

The history of real turtles (and ninjas) comprises "Evolutionary Mash-Up." April O'Neil (Megan Fox) does some non-frothy reporting in the brief extended ending.

"Evolutionary Mash-Up" (14:59) talks real turtles and ninjas, with a reptile expert schooling us on the different species and musing on how they have evolved over the past 220 million years and a ninja expert considering their function in society over the centuries. It's probably not a featurette you expected to find, so kudos for the creativity.

"Turtle Rock" (5:37) turns our attention to Brian Tyler's score, with comments from the composer and looks at the orchestra recording the themes.

An extended ending (0:46) lets April O'Neil realize her dream of doing a serious report.

Juicy J. Moxie, Ty dolla Sign, and Wiz Khalifa rap in the "Shell Shocked" music video. Michelangelo makes an appearance on the animated main menu adapted from the film's end titles.

A music video (3:27) is provided for the film's end credits theme "Shell Shocked", performed by Juicy J. Moxie, Ty dolla Sign, and Wiz Khalifa. It juggles stylized video of the artists rapping with clips from the movie.
Interestingly, this didn't make the Academy's recent list of 79 songs eligible for this year's Original Song Oscar.

A short video gives us insight into the creation of "Shell Shocked" (1:31), with Wiz Khalifa, who is shown writing and recording the song on his own, explaining how he's a big Turtles fan.

Unfortunately, as is the standard practice at Paramount these days, none of these extras make it to the DVD, which is the same one sold on its own.

While the Blu-ray only attempts to stream some current trailers, the DVD opens with hard-coded ones that promote Transformers: Age of Extinction, Hercules, and Interstellar. Its Previews listing runs promos for Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nickelodeon's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" DVDs before repeating the other three.

The animated menu adapts the end credits graphics. The Blu-ray supports bookmarks, but doesn't resume playback.

In addition to the three discs, which are only slightly less plainly labeled than Paramount's modern BDs, the standard blue keepcase holds two inserts supplying your Digital HD UltraViolet code and advertising Turtles merch. The case is topped by a lenticular-faced slipcover with embossed title that assigns two turtles to each spine.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles unexpectedly run into the Foot Clan.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles somehow manages to be even worse than you fear it will be. This by-the-numbers production doesn't seem to understand the appeal of the animated series or the comic book before it, and basically offers us a mild variation on the underwhelming formulas of crass movies like The Smurfs. While the film is at least visually and narratively coherent (which is more than can be said for some installments of the Transformers series this aspires to), it is never funny, smart, interesting, or genuinely exciting.

Paramount's Blu-ray combo delivers the thrilling picture and sound you expect of a major studio motion picture in high definition. It also adds some diverting bonus features. Nonetheless, unless you've been bowled over by movies like Transformers and The Smurfs, this isn't good enough to warrant anything more than a morbid curiosity viewing.

Buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D Combo / Blu-ray 3D Gift Set / Blu-ray Combo / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles • TMNT (2007)
2014 Tentpoles: Transformers: Age of Extinction • Guardians of the Galaxy • Maleficent • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 • Godzilla
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman: Battle: Los Angeles | Written by Evan Daugherty: Divergent • Killing Season
Written by Josh Appelbaum & Andrι Nemec: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol • Life on Mars (US) • October Road
Megan Fox: Transformers • Passion Play • Jennifer's Body | Will Arnett: G-Force • The Lego Movie • Blades of Glory
William Fichtner: The Lone Ranger • Drive Angry • The Big Bang

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed December 15, 2014.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Paramount Pictures, Platinum Dunes, Gama Entertainment, Mednick Productions, Heavy Metal,
and Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.