TMNTTMNT on Blu-ray

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a huge part of growing up in the '80s and '90s.

Along with G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Thundercats, the Turtles were essential to the Saturday Morning Cartoon-athon that helped shape the youth of a generation. And they all had some pretty sweet toys, too.

Nevertheless, the Turtles were the first to make a live-action leap to the big screen with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in 1990. Two mediocre (and yet somehow still awesome) sequels followed before the ninjas slipped out of the mainstream. Then Hollywood ran out of ideas again.

Back in all-CGI form, everyone's favorite mutants (except, maybe, for the X-Men) are hoping to reinvigorate the franchise by kicking some serious arse once again.

Having defeated Shredder and saved the world, the Turtles have sort of drifted apart. They're each off doing their own thing, none of them feeling quite whole without the others. So when a new bad guy shows up wreaking havoc here and there, the half-shelled heroes must join forces with their old friends April and Casey Jones. Will they save the world again? Gee, I wonder.

The plot is pretty straightforward and, admittedly, weak. But the CGI is very well done, and there's more action than you could possibly hope for (which is also very well done). Writer/director Kevin Munroe has done an excellent job of appealing to the old fans of the series, while still keeping it simple and fresh enough for the modern-day young-uns.

While the casting of Chris Evans and Sarah Michelle Gellar (neither of whom we have a problem with, for the record) may not be the best, the presence of Patrick Stewart and Laurence Fishburne is always favorable.

It may not be as much of a classic as the 1990 film, but we'd daresay this TMNT is superior.

The DVD looked really good. The Blu-ray looks awesome. There are a lot of dark scenes, all of which are better handled on the Blu-ray. Colors are richer and detail is astounding, though it doesn't look quite as 3-D as we were hoping for. The audio seems quieter than on the DVD, but there is much less volume fluctuation. It seems to blend together more nicely.

Extras include an audio commentary by Kevin Munroe, an alternate opening and alternate ending, a deleted scene, side-by-side storyboard-to-film comparisons, and some interviews with the voice talent.

Overall, the disc is a worthy addition to the Blu-ray camp.

TMNT, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
87 minutes, 2.40:1 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Produced by Thomas K. Gray, Galen Walker, Paul Wang
Written and directed by Kevin Munroe

Out for JusticeOut for Justice on Blu-ray

By Johnny Bray

Let's face it: either you can hack Steven Seagal movies or you can't.

I can.

For their time, Seagal's films were spectacular (chuckle), creatively brilliant (giggle) and revolutionary (snicker). Seriously though, they were fun in the same way that Demolition Man is fun. I'm not sure why that is, but it's best not to ask questions and just roll with it.

If you've seen one Seagal movie, you've seen them all. He's a cop, or a detective, or an out-of-work stuntman or whatever, and at some point he's been wronged. So he breaks out the chops and heads out for justice.

An actor the man may be, but a thespian he ain't. His completely monotone, dry, indifferent delivery of every bad line is his schtick, though, and it wouldn't be a Seagal movie without it. Basically, he's not there to talk: he's there to walk.

While I can admit to being a fan back in the day, I can also admit that this movie, at least, has not stood the test of time. The action I used to love is kinda lame now, and the badass dialogue that used to show how cool the guy was, is now hilarious. The whole thing seems like a direct-to-video affair, without the tongue-in-cheekness that often comes from direct-to-video affairs.

It'll surely be cheap, so if you can't stand not having Steven Seagal on Blu-ray, this will make you rest easy. However, regardless of how cheap it is, it could scarcely be considered a good deal.

Regarding the Blu-ray, Out for Justice may seem an odd choice to release on a still-infantile format, but when you take into account the fact that they haven't really put forth a lot of effort, it all makes sense. Smell a buck? Follow your nose.

The movie starts out looking pretty solid. Not great, but solid, at least for a cheesy 1991 Steven Seagal movie. Colors are rich, and slight details are surprisingly evident. However, the further you watch, the more you'll notice that they were just lulling you into a false sense of security. Many low-light and nighttime scenes look downright embarrassing, as though they realized the movie wasn't that good and decided not to bother.

Meanwhile, the audio starts, continues, and finishes sounding lousy. It may boast Dolby Digital 5.1, but it sounds more like they recorded a stereo signal coming out of 20-year-old TV speakers, and then digitized it into 5.1. Dialogue sounds murky and quiet, and some of the sound effects (gunshots, in particular) are tinny and annoying. Perhaps they were going for the retro feel of catching the movie on late-night TV. Either way, it's unacceptable for Blu-ray.

In the tradition of early DVDs, this disc comes complete with the film's theatrical trailer, and nothing else.

Out for Justice, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
91 minutes, 2.4:1 1080p High Definition, Dolby Digital 5.1 (supposedly)
Starring Steven Seagal, William Forsythe, Jerry Orbach, Jo Champa
Written by David Lee Henry, Directed by John Flynn

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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