Reference picture, sound and Atmos - Cowabunga!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Review
It seems that almost every new movie these days is a reboot, remake or reimagining of a beloved franchise from the 80s or 90s.So it doesn't come as a surprise to discover that everyone's favourite pizza eating, martial arts practising reptiles are the latest franchise to get a modern update. This new film is yet another Michael Bay production, so at least viewers know what to expect. In fact at times the film feels like it was also directed by Bay, although it was actually directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles). So you get all the usual Bay cliches like tons of CG, explosions, 360 degree camera pans, slow motion, female objectification, juvenile humour and loads of product placement. You also get Megan Fox, who has presumably kissed and made up with Bay after likening him to Adolph Hitler on the set of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In fact you get quite a lot of Fox's character, so much so that the film feels more like the April O'Neil story than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Our titular heroes don't even make an appearance until 22 minutes into a film that tries too hard to change the established backstory of the turtles themselves.
In fact the filmmakers have been doing more backflips than a martial artist as far as the story is concerned and it shows in the film. The cast includes William Fitchner, Will Arnett, who should know better, and Whoopi Goldberg, who's probably just glad she's not in Theodore Rex this time. About the only thing that the film does get right is the spirit and character of the turtles themselves, even if they are gigantic over-muscled six-footers in this version. The CG animation is also pretty good and an obvious step-up from a bunch of blokes in suits. The result is a glossy slice of mindless entertainment that will no doubt appeal to its target audience, with plenty of fart jokes and over-the-top action. However fans of the original cartoon series and live action movies will probably be wondering where all the nostalgic fun went. They'll also be wondering what happened to Bebop and Rocksteady who got dropped at the last minute. Come on, who doesn't want to see a mutant warthog and a bad-ass rhino.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Blu-ray release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles includes a 1080p/24 AVC encode of the film's 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio and is available in either 2D or 3D versions, although we are only reviewing the 2D release. The film was shot in 2D and converted into 3D during post-production, so whether you decide to go for the 2D or 3D version depends on how you feel about native versus converted 3D. However as is explained in the extras, the film was conceived for 3D and given the large amount of CGI, the conversion actually takes full use of negative parallax to create a fair immersive 3D experience.
Regardless of the quality of the film, the picture is reference all the way.
The film was shot digitally and the resulting transfer is pristine with absolutely no digital or compression artefacts. The level of detail on display is astonishing and whether it's the cracked skin of the computer-generated turtles or the clothing and background details of the live action aspects, every pixel of the high definition image is being used. There is a fine level of grain that gives the image a more film-like quality but the transfer is free of any banding, noise reduction and edge enhancement. No matter how much is going on within the image, and there's never a dull second, the image is accurate and faithful. The colour performance is also excellent, reproducing the film's deliberately bright colour scheme with plenty of impact and accuracy.
Blu-ray Sound QualityIt's not only the picture that is reference quality when it comes to the Blu-ray release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the audio also delivers the goods, regardless of whether you're listening to the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix or the full Atmos version. For those that are taking the more traditional audio route the film offers a highly engaging surround mix, with extensive use of the surrounds. The effects move around the room convincingly, with excellent steering and a nice sense of immersion. Dialogue remains clear and anchored to the centre channel, whilst the music and effects open up a wide front sound stage. The entire sound field compliments the frenetic action on screen and the explosions are underscored by some impressive LFE, with bass well integrated into the mix.
The audio is equally as impressive even without the addition of Dolby Atmos.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles includes a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and we reviewed it with a 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos configuration, which meant that along with the usual seven channels and subwoofer, we had four overhead channels - two at the front and two at the rear. To achieve this we used a Denon AVR-X7200 AV receiver combined with a Cambridge Audio Azur 651W power amplifier to add the extra two channels. This is the third Atmos film we have reviewed and the results were actually the least impressive of the three. There was a nice sense of immersion but the overhead channels rarely seemed to be used in any effective way. However the numerous sound effects were easy to pinpoint, whilst pans around the room felt completely seamless and the level of bass energy was very impressive, although everything still remained balanced and dialogue was always clear.
Blu-ray ExtrasThe Blu-ray of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is available as a 2D version that also includes a DVD and as a 3D version. The extras are the same for both versions and they're a reasonable set of featurettes that are all presented in high definition.
Digital Reality (17:56) - A featurette that covers the techniques involved in creating the turtles themselves. The featurette covers everything from pre-viz to motion capture to the computer generated animation and includes interviews with all the key participants, including the director, producer, actors, stunt performers and ILM.
In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D (04:23) - A brief featurette that covers the 3D aspects of the production which, as the director explains, was always planned for 3D. The film wasn't shot with 3D cameras and was converted in post-production but the extensive use of CG means that much of the 3D is effective and the filmmakers explain how they used the added dimensionality to emphasis certain scenes. Note: This featurette is available in 2D and 3D, even on the 2D disc.
It Ain't Easy Being Green (06:47) - This brief featurette covers the actors that played the turtles themselves, how they were cast, what TMNT means to them and how they dealt with the motion capture.
Evolutionary Mash-Up (14:59) - A surprisingly long and detailed featurette that coves the evolutionary history of the turtle. We're not sure how relevant this is in a film about six-foot tall turtles who walk, talk and do martial arts but it's interesting none-the-less.
Turtle Rock (05:37) - This short featurette covers the scoring and recording of the film's soundtrack and includes interviews with composer Bryan Tyler.
Extended Ending (00:46) - A brief scene of April reporting directly to camera that would have appeared at the end of the film. Sadly there are none of the scenes that were junked after the re-shoots.
"Shell Shocked" (03:27) - The music video for the film's closing song.
Making of "Shell Shocked" (01:31) - A very brief featurette about the writing and recording of the film's closing song.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray VerdictTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the latest reboot of a well-loved franchise and, as is usually the case these days, the result is technically proficient but lacking in heart. Fans of the original comics, films and TV series will be disappointed by the changing of the turtle's backstory and the last minute reshoots surrounding the identity of The Shredder are fairly obvious. However the film's target audience will no doubt enjoy the juvenile humour, copious action and effects; whilst the film-makers at least manage to capture the spirit of the turtles themselves.
This Blu-ray release offers reference picture and sound, along with some interesting extras.
Whatever the failings of the film itself, the Blu-ray certainly delivers the goods in terms of picture and sound quality. The transfer is flawless with a pristine digital transfer that captures the film's detail, action and comic book colour scheme. There are no banding or compression artefacts and the image is free of edge enhancement or noise reduction. The audio is equally as impressive, with a highly active sound design that surrounds the viewer, drivers plenty of bass and compliments the images. The Blu-ray also includes an Atmos soundtrack which, whilst still highly immersive, isn't as impressive as previous Atmos tracks we have reviewed. However a compliment of decent extras rounds out a decent package, making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a good buy for fans of the film or those looking to complete their collection of Blu-rays with Atmos soundtracks.
You can buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Blu-ray here
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