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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (3D Blu-ray Review)

12 Dec, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 12/16/14
Box Office $191.20 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $54.99 3D BD
Rated 'PG-13' for sci-fi action violence.
Stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg, Abby Elliott, Taran Killam, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Danny Woodburn.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have come a long way in 30 years. What started as a gritty indie comic that parodied Frank Miller's "Daredevil" run took on a life of its own thanks to the hugely popular 1980s cartoon series adaptation that introduced audiences to most of the Turtle tropes, as well as a dense mythology of characters and villains.

Where the 1990s live-action movies more or less tried to emulate the spirit of that cartoon, with some nods to the original comics, director Jonathan Liebesman's reboot plays more like a traditional superhero action movie that happens to have overgrown mutated turtles as its heroes. It is, for the most part, an entertaining and inoffensive popcorn flick, although it does make a few tweaks to the turtles' origins that could rub fans the wrong way.

Most of the essentials are there — Turtles Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello are transformed by exposure to a radioactive ooze, as is their mentor, a giant rat named Splinter — but this film finds it necessary to intertwine their beginnings with the backstory of April O'Neil (Megan Fox), the reporter who befriends them in most adaptations. It's not a bad twist, in theory, although the film rushes through the backstory and the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

This isn't as bad as the depiction of traditional TMNT villain Shredder, who is reduced to a faceless martial arts master clad in robotic armor acting primarily as a henchman to the film's true heavy, though it's a question if the screenplay understands this.

More impressive are the Turtles themselves, who make for an imposing quartet of action heroes. The film has some fun differentiating their designs to match their personalities, altough there isn't much time to get to know them on an individual level since they spend most of the film teaming up to stop the Foot Clan from terrorizing New York City.

The action setpieces are decent, from a chase through a snowy mountain pass to a climactic rooftop battle. The film makes good use of its 3D effects, with certain scenes designed specifically to try to put the audience in the middle of the action as much as possible (or just wave a slice of pizza in their face).

Not surprisingly, most of the Blu-ray extras are featurettes highlighting the visual effects. There's even one about the film's use of 3D, which is curiously found on the 2D disc (although there is an option to watch it in 3D). There's also a featurette about the film's music.

Another fun featurette meshes information about the biology of turtles with a history lesson about ninjas.

The Blu-ray also includes a cringeworthy extended ending that was cut for good reason, as well as a music video with its own making-of featurette.


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