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DVD Pick of the Week: TMNT

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This week brings a lengthy list of titles running the gamut from the good to the bad to the ugly. There are lots of television titles, some unknown releases, and even a few movies. No matter how long or short the weekly release list is, there is always a minimum of one title that I would like to add to the ever-growing collection, usually more. This week is no different, and despite the number of decent offerings, it was pretty easy to select this week's top pick.

This week's pick is none other than the latest incarnation of everyone's heroes on the half shell, TMNT. It wins out based partially on childhood nostalgia, but mostly because it is actually a quality film filled with good action, nice animation, and is all around an exciting slice of cinema.

The story picks up after the live action series. Following the defeat of Shredder, it seems that the team dynamic changed. Splinter sent Leonardo away to learn to be a better leader. During that time, the team split up, each of the remaining brothers doing their own thing. But trouble is brewing, and the promise of danger brings the four back together. Yes, there is another "but" — before they are able to face the oncoming threat, they must first learn to deal with each other.

A big part of the story centers on the strained relationship between Leonardo and Raphael. This story is great, but pushes Michaelangelo and Donatello to considerably smaller supporting roles, something I assume will change should there be a sequel. Raph is something of a hothead, not happy with Leo's departure, and decides to take things into his own hands. Now that Leo is back, Raph is even less happy now that his brother has returned. It is an interesting dynamic that plays out, but there is the bigger story that they are all forced to deal with.

There is an ancient, immortal warrior who unwittingly let a number of ghastly beasties loose upon the earth, while his generals were turned into beastly stone statues. It just so happens everything is converging on New York; the warrior goes by the name Winter, and he has just bought the statues and is intent on bringing his men back and recapturing said beasties. It is up to the turtle foursome, along with April O'Neil and Casey Jones, to get their act together and get to the bottom of the creature activity. Oh yes, the Foot Clan are still around, too.

TMNT is a rather big departure from the prior popularized incarnations, and probably closer to the original underground comic book version. It strips away the straight up comedy and goofiness that infected the cartoon, taking a darker and grittier turn. It would be something akin to the difference between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins; that is to say it is a fantastic change. It has its share of comedy, but it has a more serious tone that doesn't give away all the fun. The action is high, and there are a couple of great fights, this is what was promised in those other incarnations, finally brought to realization.

Among the extras: Alternate ending temp/scratch test (grayscale April and Casey), commentary by writer and director Kevin Munroe, deleted scenes including Mikey sneaking food to Splinter, and interviews with voice talent Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Laurence Fishburne, and filmmakers.

Also out this week:

  • Bubba Ho-Tep: Hail to the King Edition. I was initially excited about this release, until I discovered it is the same disk that was released back in 2004. The only new thing with this is the snazzy Elvis-inspired slipcase. If you don't have it, get it — the movie is a blast.
  • Rome: The Complete Second Season. Never seen the series, but have always heard good things about it. Its second, and I believe final, is now here.
  • The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season. The show was at the tail end of its prime, but always offers up some laughs, and should sell well on the heels of the very good movie.
  • The Muppet Show: Season Two. Gotta love the classic Henson creation.
  • The Dresden Files: The Complete First Season. The first, and only (I believe it has been canceled) season of the wizard detective was a good one hampered by out of order airing. Not unlike Firefly.
  • Disturbia. The surprise hit from DJ Caruso and Shia LeBeouf. It was a surprisingly good Rear Window-esque thriller that delivers the goods.
  • Flash Gordon: Savior of the Universe. FLASH! AAA-AAAAAH! Just in time for the start of the new Sci Fi Channel series is a new special edition of the classic show.
  • The Tick vs Season Two. The classic Saturday morning superhero series in its second season. Who doesn't love the big blue guy?
  • The Film Crew: Killers from Space. Looking for a funny commentary? Mike Nelson and crew lampoon old cheese fests. This is the second Film Crew release.
  • Are We Done Yet? Not bad, but not good either. Family comedy is saved by John C McGinley's manic performance.
  • Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show: The Complete Series. A good dose of Batman and Superman.
  • I Think I Love My Wife. Mediocre at best Chris Rock dramedy about relationships.
  • Unaccompanied Minors. This is what happens when you leave kids alone in an airport.
  • Darkwing Duck: Volume 2. Let's take a trip back to the day when Disney ruled the after school cartoon market. This was at the tail end of it, but still quality toonage.
  • Darkman Trilogy. Sam Raimi's superhero flick before he got to Spider-Man, and starring Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand before they hit big. None returned for the two sequels.
  • Crime Story. Jackie Chan when he left the laughs behind in favor of true crime.
  • The War of the Worlds/When Worlds Collide. There are a ton of double and triple features coming out, but this is the one that caught my eye. These sets offer good value on a large variety of films.
  • Bad Reputation. Looks like a low budget slasher about a girl in high school gaining her revenge. Could prove to be fun.
  • Lady Ninja Kasumi, Vol. 1. Always up for some ninja action, this looks like it could prove fun.
  • Star Knight. A science fiction epic with Harvey Keitel? This looks awfully cheesy. Just take a look at the cover and you will see a ship from Battlestar Galactica on it. They wouldn't reuse footage, would they?

So, anything on the schedule for you?

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