One of Megan Fox’s first things to do in front of Ninja Turtles’ camera is bounce on a trampoline. The script indirectly mocks the obvious sexism, but then plays its own games with Will Arnett taking time out of a near-deadly mountain chase to stare at Fox and throughout the movie, Michelangelo ceaselessly spouts outmoded pick-up lines with creepy inter-species sexual allure.
Like everything in this movie, the sexism joins a list of things hopelessly overdone, overcooked, and overthought. The camera incessantly spins and swirls as to make the action almost unwatchable, at least with any degree of appreciation for the design. Designs make Splinter (Tony Shalhoub) look more like a bison than a rat, and the Turtles themselves appear garish and freaky. Antagonist Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) has so many blades, he challenges Transformers for the most moving parts.
At its worst, Ninja Turtles mocks itself
At its worst, Ninja Turtles mocks itself
Aside from the truly awful Ninja Turtles III, this is the worst of the Ninja Turtles movie adaptations to date. While the sequel bettered things ever-so-slightly, using this as the baseline allowed little chance for success. While clearly aiming for the older, nostalgic demographic given the guns and innuendo, Ninja Turtles ignored the property’s inherent joy – with one exception. In the elevator, nearing their final confrontation with Shredder, Mikey begins beatboxing to lighten the mood. With that moment, Ninja Turtles shows understanding of what these characters could be.
It’s not that Ninja Turtles dared to change something. In nearly every adaption, animated or otherwise, the foursome look and act differently. Sometimes it’s slight, others drastic. This Ninja Turtles suggests the division between Raphael and Leonardo, a key component in TMNT lore for decades, but never capitalizes on this. Mikey and Donatello slip into the background, given less attention than secondary villain Erick Sacks (William Fichtner). Other characters like Karai (Minae Noji) exist without any sense of who or why.
At its worst, Ninja Turtles mocks itself. Yes, the concept, name, and logic betray any reality. Through Channel 6 editor Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg), the movie denigrates the fandom, and April, an utterly dismal journalist in this version, dares to suggest any of this is happening before having concrete evidence. Rather than a balance to the Turtles, she’s fodder, something to gawk at rather than enrich this refreshed storyline. It’s pathetic, really.
Originally a 2K finish, Paramount releases Ninja Turtles with a brilliant Dolby Vision pass. The intensity, as is the norm for Michael Bay projects, reaches absolute extremes. Black levels display ludicrous depth and power. Mesmerizing brightness reaches blinding levels. Clipping is even an issue, but at the source. Dolby Vision emboldens this dramatically.
Digital effects bring noise to the frame, falling toward chroma artifacts on a few occasions, but is generally controlled cleanly. Slight imprecision suggests a 2K upscale, but other moments are indicative of fresh 4K material. That, or it’s the contrast adding enough pop to convince the eyes of something in greater resolution. Visible definition in close and on faces (Turtles or otherwise) show remarkable clarity. Wide shots of New York look dazzling, especially those at night where again, the contrast elevates.
Thick, aggressive color follows suit. Intense flesh tones border on bronze, and primaries nearly bleed. Yet, they hold together, even with the heightened black levels, there’s nuance before true black. Turtle green, in various hues, proves easily distinguishable in every part of the frame. April’s yellow coat truly stands out.
Bass, bass, bass. Lots of bass. That’s the hallmark of this Atmos track that finds the low-end too alluring to ever stop using it. Every punch, kick, bullet, and slam receives a sizable jolt to a point where this design blends itself together. Differentiation between attacks is rare. Nuance is not the disc’s strongest asset.
That isn’t to say certain moments do not stand out. Again, the mountain slide is great, with deep, gurgling LFE as a truck trailer swings around and passes through the frame with the full assistance of each channel. Soundtrack work likes to bottom out too for effect.
Channel separation, when not swallowed by the sub, is on point. Attacks reach into the sides, dialog travels, and surround effects are never missed. Precision is high, careful enough as to not overwhelm. Swords clash in each speaker with thrown weapons reaching their point only after appropriately traveling through the stage. Foot Clan soldiers are uncomfortably tossed into walls during a subway brawl, requiring the full spread of the front soundstage. Heights create obvious, clearly separated motion, even sending voices overhead where appropriate. It’s fine work (even perfect), just far, far too aggressive in the low-end.
Rather minuscule bonuses reside on the Blu-ray. Nothing is new. Digital Reality leads with 18-minutes on the special effects. In Your Face chats about 3D conversion, although this was viewable in 3D on that previous release.
It Ain’t Easy Being Green focuses on the Turtle’s physical performers and their style. Evolutionary Mash-Up follows, a dopey bit of science and history linking the Turtle elements together from species evolution to ninjas. Turtle Rock pieces together Brian Tyler’s approach to creating the score. An extended ending (a report by April) is under a minute, with a music video (and promo making-of the video) completing the disc.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
With so little wit and character but plentiful overdone, swirling cinematography, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in a rush to go nowhere.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD: