I’ve never really been a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. Sure, I’ve seen the original series and even owned a VHS tape or two, and yes, I’ve seen a dozen or so episodes of the newer show, and yes, I’ve seen all the movies. But I wasn’t a fanatic. I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because it was entertaining and passed the time, but I never crossed over into becoming obsessive, like when it came to the DCAU. If all the TMNT writing were like TMNT: Turtles Forever though, I probably would have.
The story follows the 2k3 Turtles as they meet their 80′s counterparts from another dimension. It turns out the 80′s Shredder is attempting to take over the world. At some point, the 2k3 Shredder takes control of the 80′s Shredder’s operation and attempts to destroy all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of all realities. (At this point we are treated to a shot of almost every incarnation of the Turtles, from the comics to the various TV shows and movies.) Then it’s up to the 80′s and 2k3 turtles to team up with the original Turtles from the comics to stop the 2k3 Shredder from wiping out all realities. There are a few plot holes, but you barely notice it because of all the fun you’re having.
The movie commemorates the 25th anniversary of the franchise, and it is essentially a crossover between the old series, the newer one, and the comic book. What’s most entertaining about this romp between varying realities is the way that it isn’t above making fun of itself. At times it really seems to be poking a little bit too much fun at the original series, but towards the end the 2003 series gets it’s due as well. Still, it’s all in good fun, and probably won’t bother fans of either series too much. My favorite jokes are when the 80′s Turtles break the third wall and begin talking to the audience while the 2k3 characters question who they’re talking to, and 80′s Donatello’s explanation for their absolutely ridiculous “science” they employed regularly during that show.
The animation is fantastic, brilliantly imitating the 80′s style when needed, while making it still not look too out of place with the 2k3 style. The Mirage Comic version of the Turtles are animated splendidly, looking like a black and white comic book, complete with thick and thin lines and heavy black shading, looking completely unique, like nothing I’ve ever seen in animation before. It looks absolutely beautiful, and the animation is simply top notch.
Unfortunately, in Nick’s first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD release since their acquisition of the brand, they have put out a DVD that is pretty bare-boned. It’s a horrible release, in fact. We could’ve used a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles documentary or retrospective, or at least a creators commentary. Instead, we get no extras to speak of. Oh, but it gets worse. This DVD contains the edited version of the movie. Not bad enough? It gets worse still. Turtles Forever is presented in a letterboxed format. That may have been acceptable in 2000, but this is 2010! Get with the program Nick! It’s really disappointing. Still, I have the feeling if this DVD doesn’t sell well it’ll adversely affect any upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVDs from Nick.
All in all, TMNT: Turtles Forever is an enjoyable film for fans of the franchise or even those who have just had a casual interest in it. It’s a great way to celebrate 25 years of TMNT. As for this specific DVD, the lack of special features makes his hard to recommend and that’s a real shame. If you’re a fan, then I suppose you should buy it if you want to ensure future Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles releases. If you’re not a fan, but just casually interested, then you should definitely rent it. It’s just too good to completely pass up.