Saturday, August 11, 2007

TMNT (2007) (DVD)

Twenty-three years after debuting in a Mirage Studios comic, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in their fourth full-length feature film. Unlike the previous three film outings, this one is fully CGI.

Ostensibly taking place after Shredder's defeat in the second film (and very likely the third film as well, due to the appearance of the Time Scepter on the trophy wall), the Turtles must overcome their petty squabbles and familial rifts to battle a new menace in the form of an 3,000-year-old immortal warrior hunting alien monsters and stone statues of his former Generals.

A less-clueless, more pro-active April O'Neil is now living with vigilante Casey Jones, who is chafing at settling down. The Foot Clan makes an impressive appearance, led by Karai, who has taken over from the deceased Shredder. Though hints are given that Shredder may not be as dead as the Turtles think, leaving things open for a follow-up film. Leonardo is off training in South America, Michaelangelo is working as a birthday party entertainer, Donatello is an IT Support guy, and Raphael fills his days with sleep and the nights with vigilante justice as the Night Watcher!

I loved the heck out this flick in the theaters, and loved just as much on the recently released DVD.

The animation is crisp, fluid, and rife with depth of texture, shadow, and light. This is, by far, my favorite CGI movie to date, visually speaking. Very little is static; from natural, life-like eye movements, to the gentle motion of breathing, to the ninja-quick fight scenes, this film just breathes life into the millions of moving pixels. The visual style is less realistic, more anime/manga, yet you find yourself immersed in the story and able to relate to the emotions of the very expressive characters.

The music chosen for the film is fantastic. The well used theme music gets your juices flowing. A version of Black Betty by Big City Rock and Lights Out by P.O.D. pump it up during a couple of the frenzied fight scenes. There are other surprisingly good tunes utilized to great effect through-out the movie. (Soundtrack can be found all over, including at Amazon, who I hope won't sue me for linking to their audio clips. ^.^;;)

The voice acting was top notch, though a few of the tertiary characters were obviosuly voiced by the same few actors. Laurence Fishburne narrates, Sarah Michelle Geller is April O'Neil, Chris Evans voices Casey Jones, Patrick Stewart voices the Immortal Warrior, the late Mako does a phenominal job as Splinter, and you will hear several familair voices from other cartoons and video games through-out. The dialogue is never stilted, often amusing, and fits each character well.

TMNT has a strong story to tell. It is engaging, with a perfect blend of action, humor, and drama. Compared to many other films out this year, TMNT delivers on plot without all the excessive fluff and marketing bloat.

If you want a great action film, one you can safely watch with your kids, or even all by your lonesome, you can't go wrong with four ninja turtles and gi wearing rat!

The DVD has a lot of extras, mostly commentary and few partially completed scenes, including an alternate opening and ending. Some storyboard comparisons, and interviews with Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Geller, Laurence Fishburne and the filmmakers round out the special features. The disc I got has both wide-screen and full-screen versions, always a plus. (I like wide-screen movies, the kids and Mom like full-screen on their smaller TVs). You really can't go wrong with this DVD ... well, okay, I dislike the DVD cover (which I couldn't find a decent pic of on the 'Net). The cover was just too cartoony and belies the fantastic CGI animation awaiting your eyes on the disc inside. (The DVD gets 4 Raivynns).

I give TMNT a solid 5 of 5 Raivynns! You've never seen the Turtles like this!

Raivynn Rating

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