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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Rise of the Turtles" DVD Review
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 26, 2013

Synopsis: Emerging from their hidden lair in the sewers for the very first time, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are ready to explore the bustling streets of New York City. Join these four ninja brothers – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo – as they learn to work as a team and do battles against enemies including Kraang-droids, a mad scientist, a robot turtle, and more!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Rise of the Turtles" DVD Review
By James Harvey

The new (and really, really excellent) CG-animated Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles series is now out on DVD, with the first six episodes collected on one disc. Be there at the beginning for the latest interpretation of the world-famous terrapins and experience what could possibly be the best animated rendition of our favorite heroes in a half-shell ever.

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesThe new CG Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series feels like a love letter to the expansive world of the well-known product, picking up bits here and there from the property’s last 25-plus years. While long-time Turtle fans will definitely be able to pick out plenty of the obvious nods, it’s great to see this series also trying to strike out on its own so quickly. In fact, it easily surpasses the quality of the original 1980s series with just the first two episodes. For fans looking for a light-hearted fun take on the mythos, I guarantee there is no better take than this right here, so far.

The writing is just top-notch here – the jokes all work, whether it’s the snappy dialogue or occasional visual gag. It’s successful because of the exceptional character work and pace put into the series. The characters are quickly defined, but not rushed. We get the bare essentials right away, but then we’re given time to learn more beats about each character. The dialogue is telling, but not overbearingly riddled with exposition. The designs make each character feel unique to each other, but also instantly recognizable. Even without the color-coded masks, it’s easy to tell exactly which Turtle is who. The designs even match their personalities perfectly. Raphael’s battered shell echoes his tough demeanor. Michelangelo’s design is vey youthful and innocent, a perfect reflection of his more immature (for lack of better word) personality. Donatello’s tall and lanky design nicely plays off his geeky leanings. And Leonardo … well, he looks like the leader of the group. And, honestly, I have no qualms with Splinter’s design. A bit of a departure from previous takes, but it looks just fine.

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIt’s easy to tell that Nickelodeon has pumped a fair amount of money into this series. It looks like it has a considerable budget, the fluid animation and facial animation an obvious mark. The stylized take on New York looks fantastic, the background at times coming off as CG-enhanced comic or graffiti art (and I mean that in a good way). The CG humans look a bit plastic, but by no means is that a negative strike. They fit well into the overall designs of the world and are not awkward in the slightest. In fact, they at times look more cartoon-y than the mutated creatures. And, in the overall tapestry, everything comes together perfectly. Characters fit in with their surroundings, designs are stylish and help extenuate personalities (even with the robots, believe it or not), and everything blends together without any hiccups.

Quite frankly, there are no real obvious flaws or disappointments to be had here. The six episodes included here – “Rise of Turtles,” (two-part episode) “Turtle Temper,” “New Friend, Old Enemy,” “I Think His Name Is Baxter Stockman,” and “Metalhead,” are enjoyable adventures that fans should get a kick out of. This CG-enhanced take on the Turtles is completely respectful to the source material and just fun, fun, fun. Its quality stuff here, folks. Every episode here is great. Not all of them are as strong as the next – some are better than others – but each episode is still really enjoyable and just fun. I know I’ve said that over and over, but it’s true – the key word here is “fun.” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fun, fun cartoon.

Moving on to the DVD release, things are what you’d expect for a first single-volume DVD release of an animated all-ages show. Six episodes packed with a light batch of extras (which are actually pretty interesting) – pretty standard stuff but nothing to scoff at.

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Bonus content includes six ‘making of’ animatics, which fans of behind-the-scenes material should actually enjoy, and a Karaoke music video of the cartoon’s pretty awesome theme song. As I said, the content is light, but it’s actually worth checking out. Kids will enjoy the music video and I’m sure the older fans will dig a brief look behind the scenes of each included episode. A little bonus poster is also tossed in with the DVD packaging.

Moving on to the audio and video quality, it’s a fantastic release across the board. Given this is a DVD release, the audio and video is as top-notch as one can expect in the standard definition format. Audio is center-focused but crystal clear. Whether a wisecrack from one of the Turtles or a punch in the face, you should be able to hear it all. There is some color-banding to be seen here and there, but the widescreen video is also pretty excellent overall. Still, there is one bizarre thing I need to make note of. The packaging lists this DVD as a “Full Screen” (traditionally a 1.33:1 aspect ratio) release despite the video dimensions actually being widescreen (1.78:1 aspect ratio). Has the 1.78:1 format become the new “full screen,” given the dominance of widescreen televisions, and the 2.4:1 aspect ratio the new “widescreen?” I’ve seen this pop up on aspect ratio listings for other releases and it looks to becoming the case…

Overall, a fantastic animated series and a good DVD release? Personally, I find it worth the $10 price that many online and retail outlets are already listing it under. Besides, the chances of a full season set is highly unlikely given the current home video market, so I see no reason to skip over this release. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles is a great introduction to the latest animated take on the classic green-shelled superheroes. The animation is fantastic, the writing slick, the characters likable, and the action awesomely choreographed. The new Ninja Turtles series has definitely beat all my expectations, and has quickly risen up as one of the best animated cartoons currently on television – no joke. The blend of action, heart and humor and nearly flawless, and the nice animation and wealth of characters makes it a great watch. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles comes Recommended to pick up on DVD.

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