02 September 2014
If you’re a fan of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” films, this Blu-ray set is extremely, highly recommended. Me, I would have been fine having the first film separately, but the two live-action sequels ARE relics of my past, and ones I like to dabble in every few years or so, so the fact that all the movies are bundled together isn’t a huge problem for me. Plus, I kinda like that pizza box cardboard case and the goodies inside, which include:*a mini reprinting of the full Mirage Studios 62-page black and white comic adaptation of the first film made by TMNT co-creators Peter Laird (script) and Kevin Eastman (layouts) who also ink–along with the very talented Eric Talbot–the exceptional pencils by Jim Lawson*a black beanie with the old school cartoon and movie Ninja Turtles logo printed on the front*an envelope with a cool drawing of the Turtles on front, the contents inside being some pretty neat character cards, but the coolest item being a small reproduction of a drawing penciled and signed by Peter LairdBut the biggest aspects of this Blu-ray set to get excited about are the quality transfers of the films, the main reason for buying a Blu-ray Disc. All four films are recreated accurately in the digital medium with a great level of grain and detail on the first three films, and an understandably sharp, grain-free image for the CGI film.From now on I’ll only focus on the first film, released in 1990, as that is by far my favorite of the four.Taking into account the low-budget nature of this film and its use of soft light, the Blu-ray accurately brings the look of this film into the living room, as if a film reel were being projected onto your HDTV. A nice layer of natural grain, exceptional detail, accurate color reproduction, and so on–this movie looks beautiful, and alone is worth the purchase of this box set if you’re a hardcore fan of the film. The review by Kenneth Brown strikes me as odd, as I do not notice grain zapping/reduction and heavy use of edge enhancing to compensate. I’ve seen plenty of such HD transfers, and this looks NOTHING like what the reviewer describes. The grain is very natural. And the “inconsistent contrast” and “poorly resolved blacks” are due more to the nature of the lower quality film stock as well as the soft lighting. Do these “professional” Blu-ray reviewers not know anything about film???Being now a fan of the original Mirage Studios comics by Eastman and Laird, I appreciate this film even more now than I did as a kid considering how faithful it is to the source material. The tone is decidedly more adult, though not something that kids aren’t welcomed into enjoying (most of the comics were the same way, barring some exceptions like Eastman and Simon Bisley’s “Bodycount” miniseries); the story follows closely a select few issues, with any additions and changes gelling with the source material exceptionally well and being necessary for the plot to carry on without hampering (e.g., April O’Neil being a news reporter a la the cartoon series, rather than a computer programmer working for Baxter Stockman–that whole plot would not have worked here in 90 minutes for what they aimed for, and is ultimately unnecessary in this telling); Raphael is the main protagonist, with his journey to quell his anger and understand himself, standing out amongst his brothers, and his hard-shelled loyalty to his brothers and master as well as his meeting and friendship with Casey Jones driving the plot forward (after all, in the comics, Raphael in the “Return to New York” series is the one who drove the other Turtles to go after Shredder after their defeat at April’s store/apartment); implementing the Turtles’ and Splinter’s origin story in the comics real closely with, again, some necessary changes to keep the plot and film pacing flowing; and, man, I could go on and on!What I’m trying to say is, it’s faithful to the source material, it doesn’t pander to the kiddies (though again is a great movie for kids) unlike the two live-action sequels did, and in addition to that, it’s written, directed, acted, photographed, scored, and edited exceptionally well. There’s also those cuh-ray-zee special effects by Jim Henson and company, which are a marvel to behold.1990′s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is an incredibly well-made low-budget film which became a smashing success, understandably so due to the popularity of the Turtles at the time, but I believe also because of how competently made it is. Call me crazy, but I think it’s one of the absolute finest films ever made, and I thought that even before I got all nutty over the original Mirage comics. It’s not just some old flick to enjoy for nostalgia factor or to tout around on college campus while wearing a TMNT T-shirt, fondly joking about how “Radical!” the Turtles are; this is expert filmmaking at its finest, and the Blu-ray of the film is beautiful and totally faithful to the low-budget film source.One thing that I’m a little disappointed about–and this isn’t enough to bring it down a star or anything, it’s still a 5-star product regardless–is that there are no alternate or deleted scenes. The movie was originally supposed to end differently, and there were some censorship issues as well. These missing scenes and edits would be great to see. I love having the theatrical cut of the film, but I hope that someday in the future we’ll see a proper Steve Barron director’s cut.As said in the beginning: Extremely, highly recommended! While I’m not as big of a fan of the other movies, and really kind of despise the third, I’m happy to own all four of them in the best quality possible; and really, the rest of the three look as faithful as the first.