[box cover]

TMNT

The protagonists of TMNT (2007) are mutated turtles who have learned martial arts, grown to the size of adult humans, and acquired English. And in all likelihood, this modestly entertaining film is probably as good as we're going to get with that premise. It comes 15 years after a trio of live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, which were marked by lame jokes, hole-filled plots, and clownish acting. The new one, fantastically rendered in state-of-the-art computer animation, retains those elements — which the fans evidently loved — and starts a new story a few years after the last one left off, which means our heroes probably aren't teenagers anymore (they're definitely still mutant ninja turtles, though.) The turtles all look the same, so we have to memorize which one has which color headband. Leonardo (blue headband, voice of James Arnold Taylor) has been living in a jungle for a year, sent by Splinter (Mako Iwamatsu) for some training. Back home in New York, Donatello (purple, Mitchell Whitfield) and Michelangelo (orange, Mikey Kelley) are finding non-ninja ways of making a living, while Raphael (red, Nolan North) has assumed de facto leadership of the group and spends his nights as an anonymous crime-fighter called "The Nightwatcher." Then Leonardo comes home, and just in time — a sinister-seeming man named Max Winters (Patrick Stewart) is using magic to reanimate ancient statues, which he sends out to collect a batch of ugly monsters, for which he has additional purposes in mind. But before the turtles can deal with Max Winters and the monsters, they must repair the rift that runs among themselves. Only as a united team can they save the day! The action scenes are lively enough, and taken for what it is (a cartoon about crime-fighting reptiles), TMNT is fine as Saturday-matinee entertainment. The turtles still make corny semi-jokes, like "Why skate a half-pipe when you can skate a sewer pipe?!" and human friends April (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Casey (Chris Evans) are still on hand to get in the way. If you liked the previous Ninja Turtle films, then there is no conceivable reason not to like this one, too… unless it's because you liked the previous films when you were 15 and now you are 30.

Warner Home Video presents TMNT as a double-sided disc, with the bold, colorful anamorphic version (2.35:1) on one side and a pan-and-scan transfer on the other. All of the bonus features appear on both sides. The audio is a full-bodied Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with alternate French and Spanish 5.1 tracks available, and optional subtitles in all three languages. The extras include eight deleted scenes in various stages of completion: a couple of them are fully rendered, while others are just storyboards. Writer/director Kevin Munroe narrates them, often unnecessarily and annoyingly. There's also a brief featurette about the process of digital animation and some interviews with the voice actors. (The famous ones, anyway. The nobodies who voice the four turtles are ignored.) Finally, Munroe offers a full-length commentary that is enthusiastic — his first order of business is to express child-like awe that he's actually recording a commentary for a movie he made — and focused primarily on the technical aspects of the CGI process. He also does what a lot of first-time commentators do, which is to narrate the film, often simply describing what we can see for ourselves, rather than offering insight. Keep-case with paperboard slipcover.
—Eric D. Snider



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