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"Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure": Hey, it’s Watchable

by on May 15, 2007

When you write DVD reviews, the mail will sometimes bring you DVDs you didn’t request. It can be exciting when a mystery package arrives at your door: sometimes they hold nice surprises, but sometimes they don’t. I’m sure most adults can imagine the extreme sense of disappointment I had when I opened one such package (a present, essentially) and found it contained Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure. Ah well, that’s what it’s like being a reviewer—you win some and you lose some.

Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure is an all-new, straight-to-DVD movie that has Franklin and his friends traveling to Turtle Lake to find a mysterious medallion that will help his ailing grandmother get better again. The plot is simple enough, but along the way we (that is, the kids watching it) learn some lessons, like: you shouldn’t be rude or lie to each other, you ought to be forgiving, and a crystal chandelier can act as a prism and create a rainbow.

I still can’t believe I’m going to critically review this title, but that’s what they get for sending it to me. I do have one complaint. The movie has a running time of seventy-six minutes, but it takes them over half an hour to even leave for Turtle Lake. The first part is all about Franklin’s grandmother becoming ill and the introduction of his cousin Samantha. This sets up the rest of the story, but it could have been cut down. On the other hand, it does help those who have never seen the original series before to be taken along gently, so maybe it isn’t a big drawback.

The movie isn’t overly preachy, and for that I am be glad. It really wasn’t that horrible to watch, and was certainly easier for me to take than Stan Lee’s Mosaic, but it’s obviously a movie for kids. Some of the subject matter is surprisingly dark (Franklin’s grandmother’s parents were, if I understand right, killed in a fire at Turtle Lake), but in retrospect it doesn’t surpass any G-rated Disney films of the same caliber, so in the end it doesn’t matter. The story is definitely more intelligently written than many other children’s cartoons, and it will definitely entertain the young ones for over an hour.

Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure comes in a green amaray DVD case with no inserts. Disc art and sleeve insert are colorful and detail the aspects of the film. Menus are easy to navigate.

Video and audio on this release are surprisingly good. Not only is there a 5.1 audio mix, but the film comes in 16×9 anamorphic widescreen. Yes, that’s right. HBO saw fit to release Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure in 16×9, but Warner Home Video can’t release Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo in widescreen? I don’t follow the logic here. In any case, the transfer is fine, though interlacing crops up in spots. The 5.1 mix is kept to the front channels, though later in the movie the subwoofer actually moves some dust around the room with a few well placed thumps and bumps.

There are no special features on this release, aside from a chapter selection and some trailers at the beginning of the film (all of which have to be manually skipped).

Overall I’m sure the young ones will love this story. I could see myself being interested in the story if I was (much) younger, and it easily rivals most tripe that counts as children’s cartoons on television these days.

Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure arrives on DVD May 22nd.

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