Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown DVD Review
Nickelodeon’s revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has turned out to be an incredible success, with second and third seasons of the show ordered within weeks of the initial episode airing. It’s easy to see why, as the Turtles’ recipe of action, humor and charm has managed to stay fully intact with this reincarnation. Following up on their release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise Of The Turtles (review here) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder (review here), which contained seven episodes each, Nick has released the remaining twelve episodes of Season One on a two-disk set dubbed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown’s episodes have a great cast of voice talent. Featuring Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello – and the original Raphael from the 80s cartoon), Sean Astin (Raphael), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Roseanne Barr (Kraang Prime), Kelly Hu (Karai) and Corey Feldman (Slash – and Donatello from the 1989 TMNT movie), everyone here does a solid job and fills their roles well. Special mention needs to go to Hoon Lee and Kevin Michael Richardson, who are perfectly case as the voices of Master Splinter and Shredder, respectively.
The episodes on offer in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown are all well-crafted and engaging, leading up to a climactic battle between Splinter and Shredder while the Turtles attempt to stop an all-out alien invasion. “I, Monster” saw the introduction of the Rat King, as well as an intense battle between a mind-controlled Splinter and the Turtles in an action-packed episode. “Enemy of My Enemy” had Karai realizing the real threat that the Kraang posed, as she offered to team up with the four brothers for the time being. “Parasitica” pitted the Turtles against one another, as the brothers fall under the control of a parasitic wasp; it was up to Michelangelo to save them in this interesting episode that paid homage to classic horror films.
“Showdown” had the world (and April O’ Neil) at the mercy of Kraang Prime (Roseann Barr), as the aliens’ plot to terraform the Earth was brought into action. This final episode delivered some fantastic fight scenes, especially between Splinter and the goons FishFace and Dogpound – not to mention Shredder himself. While the reasoning behind why the Kraang needed April was a bit of a a letdown, the reveal that Karai was in fact Splinter’s daughter added a new dimension to the character. It will be interesting to see how their relationship plays out in Season Two, for sure. And I couldn’t help but notice the line from Mikey: “Well at least we’re not stupid ALIENS!” It seemed like a thinly-veiled dig at the upcoming Michael Bay TMNT live-action film, where the Turtles will supposedly be alien in origin.
It’s quite obvious that the creators of Nick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a fondness for the source material. The show features plenty of callbacks to the 1987 original series while simultaneously keeping things fresh for a modern audience. There are some significant liberties taken with the canon though, such as April and Karai being de-aged to around 16 years old, as well as Krang no longer being a singular villain, but rather a race of enemy aliens known as The Kraang.
The Turtles’ personalities are thankfully left intact; Leo is still the strong, stoic leader, Raph is the hot-tempered muscle, Mikey is the comic relief little brother and Donnie is the brains of the operation. While the blocky CGI animation style may be a turn-off to some, it definitely grows on you, and the use of other artistic elements such as matte-painted backgrounds, comic-style storyboard flashbacks as well as subtle anime quirks make for a well-rounded visual presentation.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown is a very solid collection of episodes. Featuring five more episodes than the previous DVD releases, plus a handful of extras like animated comics, CGI storyboards and a LEGO TMNT comic book, this set is easy to recommend to fans of the show.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown is a solid collection of episodes from Nickelodeon’s action-packed, hilarious TV series.