TMNT Blu-ray Review
PictureTMNT arrives on Blu-ray with a stunning 2.40:1 transfer, folks. From a pure digital source, there was never really a reason to suspect that the end result would be otherwise, but it still comes as a pure pleasure to view what is, inarguably, a scintillating image. And for those of you still reeling from the intentional grain on 300, you can rest assured that there is absolutely nothing of the kind marring this picture. Naturally there is no damage or dirt, but whilst the digital side of things suffers from no distracting edge-enhancement, smearing or artefacting, there is, sadly, a slight element of banding in the dark blues of the night sky. And beyond this, there is even evidence of slow-filtering within these same areas. It happens more than once, but, for example, check out the night sky behind Casey and Raphael as they have a heart to heart on the edge of a roof early on. Please be reassured that this is not a major distraction to your viewing pleasure and I really only saw it because I was looking for such things. Otherwise, the picture remains consistent sharp and crystal clear from beginning to end.
For a colourful film, TMNT actually has quite a darker palette than you might expect. A lot of the action takes place either at night or within shadow-haunted chambers, sewers or the jungle during the opening sequence, but this doesn't detract from the lush texture of the spectrum. The primaries are strong and vibrant - just check out the bandannas on the boys - with red being extremely rich and bright. Those laser-beam eyes on the Stone Demons are tremendous, and the neon-sign that Leo and Raph battle in the glow of, beautifully suffuses the image. Many scenes are lit with a luxurious glow, such as Leonardo's jungle cave, the lighting in the underground headquarters, and the lighting elsewhere is exquisitely moody and evocative.
Blacks are deep and solid, but do not mask detail lurking within. Shadow definition is glorious and you really get the impression that everything you were meant to see onscreen is perfectly represented without compromise. The rooftop world and the alleyways and sewers are never too dark as to lose finite imagery of bricks, pipes or garbage. Splinter emerging from the gloom feels filmic and dense. A skirmish in the rain showcases excellent detail, colour and definition. The glistening on the weapons and the shells is fantastically clear and, just as rain in a live-action movie seems to accentuate the resolution of an image (which is ironic, eh?), the effect is just as impressive here. Check out the wet sheen on Leo and Raph as they tussle. This scene is destined to be a benchmark not only for hyper-detailed CG but for impeccable high-resolution transferring, too. The foliage in the jungle is crisp and clear and the long shots of the city streets are jam-packed with visual information. The big transformation of Winter's Tower is a definite showcase for the transfer, though, and right up there beside the afore-mentioned rooftop scene, but for different reasons. Matching up the smooth motion of the image with lots of intricately detailed shots of complex machinery whirring into action and structures folding, opening and shifting into new guises, all to the accompaniment of dazzling light shows - this proves to be a standout sequence, folks. Individuals are especially well-rendered, with a sense of realism that your brain tries to argue with - the main guys are turtles, when all said and done. But check out the whiskers on Splinter and the texture on the leathery skin of the heroes.
Three-dimensionality scores well with many scenes, objects and individual frames highlighting a fine depth of field that sees them standing proud from the image. Raphael's roaring charge through the city streets on his motorbike, for instance, features marvellously realistic depth. However, I don't feel that this is entirely consistent, though not through any fault of the transfer. Occasionally, the backgrounds can seem flatter than at other times, denying the impression of depth that is so richly exhibited elsewhere. This is, in fact, only noticeable because the image is so three-dimensional, otherwise. Scenes of the Turtles leaping about from rooftop to rooftop look awesome, with height and spatial placement all combining to make a flawless presentation, yet some of the really high aerial views looking down into the city don't seem quite as accomplished, despite still being good enough to induce vertigo when viewed on a much larger screen.
All in all, this is a great transfer, with only a couple of slight niggles to let the side down. But still a solid 9 out of 10, folks.
SoundThe audio is equally as impressive. Running with an expansive and dynamic Dolby TrueHD track - no PCM, here, folks - TMNT fills the room with swirling activity, boisterous effects and thunderously deep bass. Well, I'm guessing that it does, because I was unable to hear anything other than the DD 5.1 mix which is also supplied, due to not having access to the machine that I normally hear TrueHD BD discs on. My own poor Samsung cannot output it. But, even so, the film is stuffed with speaker-tickling antics and the impressive and extensive use of the surrounds ensures complete viewer-immersion.
Directionality is spot-on, with the aural dynamics perfectly mirroring what is seen onscreen. Panning around the set-up is seamless and the effects don't sound artificial or too overpowering. Characters have a believable weight lending much validity to their battling, and impacts have a genuine presence that follows the action around the set-up. Things such as the big steel doors slamming shut in Winter's Tower have a bold clanging reverberation. The continual rumbling of the trains thundering through the subway adds lots of gut-throbbing atmosphere to scenes down in the sewer-base. In fact, TMNT features one of the most constant uses of deep bass that I have heard, with floor-trembling acoustic activity making an impression throughout. Which is nice. The stereo spread across the front is wide and involving and there are lots of instances of left to right and right to left panning. Front to back sweeps are well-directed too, and all the movement between speakers is seamless.
Klaus Badelt's score is nicely captured within the soundscape and does not sound either too dominant or swamped, although it is often elbowed aside to make way for some rock tracks. Dialogue is equally finely presented and the whole thing sounds effortlessly smooth and warm. I know some people have complained about lip-synching problems with the theatrical print. Well, there is nothing too distracting here on disc, folks. The scene when Raphael, as the Night Watcher, confronts the gang near the start does, however, exhibit some lousy and noticeable synching mismatches, but this is brief and the majority of the movie is un-plagued by it. High ends are dealt out with finesse and clarity and the mid-range is extensive, detailed and engrossing. The film's mix is not as aggressive as say, 300 or POTC: Dead Man's Chest, but I have no doubts that the full lossless track will be just as exciting and well designed as either of those. Without access to the Dolby TrueHD, I can only give TMNT a well-earned 8 out of 10 for its DD 5.1 mix. Obviously, the full lossless track will be better again, so, those of you who get to hear it can almost certainly add a mark or two to that score.
ExtrasIt may look like a lot on the back of the box, but beyond the commentary track, there isn't really much that would warrant a second go. Most of the extras are examples of the CG and pre-viz variety and, as such, are fairly humdrum and unlikely to hold the interest.
The commentary with Kevin Munroe is understandably a little dry and predisposed to the technicalities of producing a CG movie, but the guy still gives the thing his best shot, with few lulls on the track. He talks about how things like a burp in the right place can lessen the effect of violence - which came in handy when the film gave cause for concern regarding its gaining of a PG rating. He also discusses how certain elements came together to create the look and feel of the movie, such as the successful combination of East and West animators, the use of improvisation and how elaborate sequences ended up being chopped down to garner even greater effect in the long run - such as how the big ninja fight towards the climax was drastically altered from a huge and complex scene with many individual cutaways to one big “super-shot”. As I say, the track can very technical, but Munroe does manage to make it a little bit more accessible. Perhaps someone else to bounce ideas off would have been a better approach though.
As for the rest of the extras, Munroe makes his presence felt again and again.
TMNT: Voice Talent First Look is a very brief - and EPK-style - look at the names behind the characters. Pure promo-fluff, this has more clips from the film than anything else, but does feature some very naff and bogusly enthusiastic praise for the film from Munroe, Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Laurence Fishburne. Lousy.
Next, we get a selection of CG breakdowns and pre-visualised concepts and dry-runs for key sequences - all of which are narrated by Munroe. We have an extended original cut of Mikey's Birthday Party - just a more elaborate and indulgent introduction to his character. Raphael's Rough House Fight Test and Monsters Come Alive are just storyboard-to-full-CG comparisons. Donny's Digital Data Files is just a couple of minutes looking at the CG rendering of Turtle anatomy. They've got veins, dude!
Still Wanna Fight? Temp/Scratch Test is a fully rendered alternate version of the “Casey and April Moment”.
Next up is an Alternate Opening that is in rough sketch and storyboard form and ditches Fishburne's narration.
There is also an Alternate Ending in Temp/Scratch form that reveals ... well, very little.
The Additional Scene - “Splinter Gets Cake” starts off in greyscale animation and then segues into full rendering, but this is merely just a throwaway scene extension.
And, finally, we get an internet trailer for the film.
Overall, this is quite surprisingly light considering the history and popularity of the Turtles. There was definitely ample ground for a full making-of documentary and perhaps a retrospective. At this stage in the game, animatics and CG breakdowns feel a tad commonplace and, indeed, superfluous. Even if I am not the biggest fans of the Turtles, I know that their cult status demands more than this.
VerdictYet more AV-heaven from Blu-ray. I haven't seen the HD version, but I can't imagine that there would be much difference between the two. The movie doesn't offer anything particularly new to the heroic-fantasy genre, but it does take the Turtles screaming into the present-day with some new macho-movie-moves, a small but agreeable degree of emotional character-arcing and lots of energetic, CG-gusto. The plot is strictly by-the-numbers, but the enthusiasm is infectious and the presentation sublime and captivating. I look forward to more adventures in this style.
The disc does not carry much of worth in the extras department, though. But I've no doubt that old and new fans will lose much sleep over that. The film is great fun and looks and sounds a treat on Blu-ray. Grab some kids and kick back with a pizza for a fast-paced and action-packed slice of CG-hokum, dudes!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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