Directed by: Roy Burdine and Lloyd Goldfine
Written by: Robert David, Matthew Drdek, Lloyd Goldfine
Starring: Michael Sinterniklaas, Wayne Grayson, Sam Riegel, Gregory Abbey, Darren Dunstan, Marc Thompson, Veronica Taylor
The times they are a changin’. Nowadays, even Michaelangelo is irritated by the grinning, pun-happy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of old. Sure, it may be a slap in the face to fans of the older series they grew up with, but Turtles Forever is just fan service topped with fan service with a side order of fan service.
The concept is nothing short of brilliant, having multiple generations of the Ninja Turtles meet in their own dimensions via portals. The movie features three groups of Turtles: the recent ’03 series, the original ’90s cartoon, and the comic book source material. It’s how these three intertwine that makes this work. What used to make total sense back in 1990, say Raphael breaking the fourth wall by talking into the camera, makes no sense to anyone in the ’03 universe. Why the ’90s Turtles are so happy, upbeat, and pun-happy is sort of baffling to everyone else. They’re also carefree. The ’03 Turtles make sure to remain secretive. As the ’90s series moved on, that set of Turtles cared less and less, and casually walk through the ’03 dimension without a care.
It’s those little flashes and quirks that keep this brief, unfortunately truncated DVD edition moving. The version released to video is a paltry 73-minutes, as opposed to the 81-minute source material. What it does for pacing, it does little for cohesion, making some of this material confusing to even a fan. It just sort of moves from one commercial break to the next.
Still, it’s a joy to see the old animation style back, even the backgrounds. By the end, when everyone meets up in the original comic book, loaded with stark black and white, darker narration, and harder edge, everything is as it should be. There is a sense this could have been the greatest thing ever, save for a bigger budget theatrical release with live action and CG Turtles as well, but you can’t have everything (and the chances of that actually happening are about nil).
Sadly, not only has Nickelodeon chosen to release an edited version of Turtles Forever, but they don’t even offer anamorphic video for the DVD. This is a letterboxed 4×3 transfer, inexcusable on today’s market. They seem to be of the mindset that only kids will be watching, but considering how old the source material is for all of this, that is certainly not the case.
Regardless, the transfer is a competent one. The compression is well done, with barely any notable mosquito noise around the edges, and clean, crisp lines where needed. At a distance things collapse, aliasing a bother on any angled object. Banding is also a concern, although at times this is certainly part of the cheaper, TV animation source. In other spots, it is the DVD encode acting, well, like a DVD encode. The sky at 21:17 is notable, and the problem continues for the rest of the scene.
There are also spots where vertical lines become apparent within the animation, the ’03 version of Shredder making them visible at 26:06. They’re faint, but noticeable. Colors are pure and bright, the variety of green on display impressive. Early shots of the ’03 city contain an array of hues making for some impressive visuals right from the start.
A 2.0 stereo mix handles the hectic action well. The split between the channels is wide, capturing exploding Foot Soldier parts falling around the screen or lasers cutting a path through the frame. Some positional voice work is noted and used well.
Compression is quite evident though, rendering the high end flat. Explosions, music, and the military assault on the new Technodrome are all strained. It lacks fidelity, certainly taking away some of the impact.
It’s hardly a surprise that extras have been left off the disc considering the treatment of everything else related to this production. The barren menu only has an option for chapter skips. What a shame.