Ever since I started watching blu-ray last year, I had always wondered when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies would come out on blu-ray. They've been overdue for a remastering, and plus, their anniversary is this year, so what better timing? I saw this set pop up right here on Amazon and I saw that my wish had finally been fulfilled. The question is, though, did they get the remastering they deserved?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The classic that everyone knows and loves. It's darker in tone than the other three, thus capturing the original comic book feel that Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman gunned for back when they did the original comics. Of course, parents didn't like it, so the tone didn't stay in future sequels. However, the literal darkness of the film happens to be the achilles' heel of this release. There's grain all over the place. It looks as if they transferred some of it, but didn't bother to do it on some scenes. One scene where Raph wanders out in broad daylight wearing a trench coat is where the grain is at it's worst, believe it or not. The dark scenes ALL have grain all over them. Some scenes are entirely devoid of any grain, though. So, what gives Warner Bros.? Couldn't touch all of it up? Now, believe me when I say this: This is the best the movie has ever looked. However, it lacks the detail of better blu-ray releases (though some of the detail is noticeable in the costumes of the Turtles), and the grain was to be expected, considering how dark the movie originally was, and as well as it being rather low-budget when it was first shot. The animatronics still stand the test of time, and this is the best they've ever looked, but I still wish more effort was put into reducing the grain and enhancing the details in a lot of scenes. Overall, if you don't mind grain in your films, you'll be fine with it, but this could be better.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze - My personal favorite of the collection. I've watched this countless times growing up on VHS. It looked rough then, but blu-ray has done it some justice. The grain isn't nearly as bad as the first movie, which is a plus, and it's not even noticeable much at all in brighter scenes. Plus, the detail has been enhanced to a fault. It's still not quite perfect in any regards, but I was satisfied overall withe visual quality. Tokka looks great with ever little greasy detail on his scaly body, and in the opening scene in the robbery, you can actually make out the faces of the robbers through their panty hose masks. This is also the best animatronics of the three live-action movies, and is timeless in it's execution. This is the best the movie has ever looked, though there are still some steps that could be made to better the picture just a little more. I was happy with it, though.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III - I'm not typing "Turtles in Time" next to it because some idiot at Warner Bros. put that on the box. That is not the official subtitle to the movie, it's the name of the Arcade/SNES video game, and it's a very good one, at that. Anyways, this is the most hated of the series, and within good reason The plot features absolutely no key villains from the Turtles universe, the animatronics are terrible (their lips flap around like Big Mouth Billy Bass) as they weren't Jim Henson's work like the previous movies, and the plot overall is so-so. However, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I don't really remember watching it as a child, just the first two movies, so I'm really taking this viewing as a first, to my recollection. As for the transfer, it's the best of the three live-action movies by far. Besides a tiny bit of grain in the opening scene with the samurais riding in the sunrise, there's no more to be found. The Turtles looked highly detailed, right down to the pores on the costumes. The lush Japanese setting looks gorgeous in this transfer, and it really makes the movie that much more bearable to watch. While it lacks a sound plot and has laughably bad animatronics, it looks very well done. If only this much effort were put into the previous two, this would be the best package possible.
TMNT - I actually saw this in theatres the day after it came out, I owned it on DVD first day, and I got it on blu-ray last Christmas, so this is actually a triple-dip retail buy, for me. The plot is solid, though it it is reminiscent of the goofy single episode plots they used to have in the 80's cartoons, mixed in with some internal struggle amongst the Turtles, especially Raph and Leo, of course. Some say Mike and Don play nothing but mere cameos, but they make a significant enough appearance to make an impact. There's enough laughs to know that at least Mikey is around in good quantity. As for the picture quality, it looks exactly as it did before on blu-ray, and that means there's nothing wrong with it. It is blu-ray perfection. Screenshots do not do it justice. Every turtle is brilliantly detailed, you can see every hair on Splinter, every detail in every wall, and don't even get me started on one key fight over halfway through the movie that I will not reveal due to possibly spoiling the movie. This fight, which takes place in the rain, is one of the single most gorgeous pieces of CG work I have ever seen. It's brilliantly animated, just as the rest of the movie is, and the amount of detail is mind-blowing. This movie is one of the greatest showpieces for the blu-rat format you will ever find, only to be rivaled by Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, which still stands as the most gorgeous movie of all time, in my eyes. A perfect picture for a great CG movie, overall.
As for extras, you get everything previous releases got. That's it. The only difference is that there's a trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up, coming to the Wii and PS2 next month, on the first movie's disc, but it's the very first trailer released, so its nothing new. It's just mastered in hi-def, though the actual game will look nothing like it, so what's the use? Overall, Warner did a terrible job for adding any special interviews, featurettes, or commentaries to commemorate the 25th Anniversary. I could personally care less about extra features, but those that are steamed about it are within good reason.
The extras we DO get, however, is part of the packaging. As you can see in the pictures one member nicely posted, it comes in a pizza box-esque design. I love it. It's actually much sturdier than you'd think, and the discs hold into their trays rather tightly. You also get 8 collectible cards, a reproduction sketch signed by Peter Laird (though it's printed, not actually signed), a reproduction of the original comic by Eastman and Laird that is based off of the original movie, an a beanie hat, which looks like it'd fit a younger head rather than an adult head, though I haven't unpackaged it for collectible reasons. It's a nice package overall, though many have complained about it not being in normal elite cases. You can always do custom cases, but this works perfectly fine and suits the collection well.
You may be wondering "Why the 4 stars?" after the first two movies weren't done as well as they could have been, but it's simple: This is the best they've looked. If you want a better picture for all of them, this is the only way to go, and they all look better, especially the last two. I did knock off a star because they didn't go the extra mile for the release by adding extra bonus features nor remastering the first two movies as thoroughly as they should have. However, hardcore Turtle fans like me will love it, I can say that much. It's worth the $60, in my eyes, but if you're only particular of getting the first movie (which I have found many are), wait up on this release. One can hope that it will get a re-release down the line from Warner like 300 and The Matrix have gotten, and hopefully, with better quality, as it's the one that got the short end of the stick, and the one most people will likely not be that satisfied with. However, if you want Turtles II and onward, they all look good to fantastic, so it's worth the purchase.