Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D review

Impressive AV credentials ensure that this reboot is more cowabunga than cowabungle!

Before it became synonymous with cartoons and action figures, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began life as an independent comic book that set out to parody the most popular superhero comics of the early 1980s.

Adopting a similarly grim 'n' gritty approach, this reboot delivers a mix of brooding heroics, bruising action and toilet humour that should go down a storm with its target audience of young boys. Meanwhile, with a running time of just 100 minutes, it's far less of a chore for adults to sit through than those pesky Transformers films.

Picture: The set includes 3D and 2D 2.40:1-framed presentations of the film – each on its own hi-def platter. Despite being converted in post-production, the film was always shot with 3D in mind, favouring lengthy shots that provide an ideal showcase for volumetric effects during the most hectic action scenes (a prime example being the showdown with Shredder in Chapter 15). It even finds time to offer some effective negative parallax japes, with bullets and tranquillizer darts shooting out of the screen.

A shame, then, that director Jonathan Liebsman has taken a leaf out of J.J. Abrams' technical book and fills the frame with an abundance of lens flare. As annoying as this might be in 2D (where it serves to wash out colours and obscure detail), it's even more frustrating in 3D thanks to the knack it has for flattening out the image.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is Paramount's second Dolby Atmos Blu-ray release. Regardless of whether or not you can listen to the full-fat Atmos incarnation or have to make do with the core TrueHD 7.1 mix, the overall balance is heavily weighted to front centre, ensuring that dialogue is crisp and intelligible even when the action is getting raucous and the LFE channel is spewing forth tight, trouser-flapping bass.

If anything, the mix relies a little too much on the centre channel and you would get pretty much all of the movie even if you had no other channel running. If you have a centre speaker prone to being a bit shouty, it’s going to holler with this movie, so you may want to nudge its output down a dB or two.

When it comes to the full Atmos experience, the implementation is considered and subtle. For huge chunks of the film there is pretty much silence from the four overhead speakers other than ambient sounds mixed out of the other channels. These effects are also at a very low level compared to the main channels, making for an overhead effect that is understated to the point of having to check the speakers are actually working. However, switching off Atmos and switching to the core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix notably flattens the scale of the soundstage.

And, when it comes to the fight scenes, the sound designer has gone quite, quite mad. Splinter and Shredder's sewer scrap (51.06) isn't all about crash, boom, bang effects – you also get a full mixed male- and female-voiced choir belting out Gregorian chant. It's really subtle in 7.1, but engage Atmos processing and it's like having a Welsh choir on your ceiling.

For these effects the Atmos channel levels are right up there with the main array. It adds a massive sense of space to the scene and heightens the emotion of Splinter getting a pasting from an armoured Shredder as our mutant heroes look on helplessly. It’s enough to give you goose bumps and a quivery bottom lip – and this from a rat getting beaten up in a sewer and a few emotional turtles. Now that's what we call an effective soundtrack.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: All of the bonus features are relegated to this set's 2D platter and kick off with Digital Reality (18 minutes), an in-depth look at the development and realisation of the film's redesigned CG turtles.

Further info about the making of the film can be found in In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D (four minutes) and It Ain't Easy Being Green (seven minutes). The former looks at the challenges of shooting for 3D (and can itself be watched in either 2D or 3D), while the latter chats with the cast.

Evolutionary Mash-Up (15 minutes) is an oddball educational extra that cuts back and forth between a piece on the evolution of turtles and another on the history of ninjas. We can only be thankfullythat they didn't include pieces on mutants and teenagers, too.

Turtle Rock (six minutes) talks to composer Brian Tyler. The Shell Shocked music video (three minutes) and an accompanying Making of Shell Shocked video (two minutes) provide more musical fun. Finally, there's an Extended Ending (one minute) that's really little more than one last forgettable gag.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: This action-packed reboot delivers more than enough AV thrills to keep home cinema fans happy

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D, Paramount, All-region BD, £28 Approx