Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat DVD Review
New York has been completely taken over by the Kraang alien race, who have mutated the entire population of the city with mutagen (including April’s father – again). Leonardo is critically injured from his epic battle against Shredder, and Splinter’s fate is uncertain. Forced from the comfort of the sewers, the turtles, April, and Casey Jones retreat to April’s family home deep in the woods of Northampton. While Raph, Donnie and Mikey attempt to rehabilitate Leo and get him back on his feet, things don’t stay quiet for long – some mutagen makes its way into the ground, and creates a whole new crop of bad guys for the group to deal with on their little getaway.
One thing I’ve noticed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that the show has gotten progressively darker. The creators seem to have some weird obsession with horror films, as we’ve seen homages to flicks like Aliens and The Terminator in the past. Season 3 kicks off with a nod to the Friday The 13th franchise, and also has an episode that is practically a shot for shot remake of 1982’s The Thing – and quite possibly the most disturbing children’s cartoon episode ever to hit the television screen. The turtles’ trademark humor (especially Mikey’s goofball antics) help offset the creep factor, but I still wouldn’t let a kid watch this in front of me. The silliness and toilet humor of the Bigfoot episode “A Foot Too Big” throws the more frightening elements into sharp relief. Ease up, Nickelodeon – if anything, TMNT should be paying homage to classic martial arts flicks, not horror cliches.
The farmhouse setting is a welcome change of scenery after two seasons in the urban jungle of NYC (which never seemed to see daylight by the way). The writers have always done a great job of tipping their hat to the franchise’s past, and here we get a few clever nods to the first TMNT movie from 1989. April’s family farm, Casey Jones’ beat up truck, Donnie and Casey’s alphabet insult game, a gravely injured turtle in a bathtub – it’s all here.
The new environment is visually appealing, and a change of pace from the norm – as is the loss of the group’s leader and Master Splinter. With so many setbacks, can they ever hope to take down the Kraang and Shredder? The Foot Clan leader certainly gave Leo the beating of a lifetime, from which he may never fully recover. Also, great idea to throw in the voice actor change for Leo now (Jason Biggs has been replaced by Seth Green), where it can be explained away as vocal chord damage from their fight.
I would definitely recommend having kids watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat with adult supervision, as I strongly feel that some of these episodes are too much for young children. Besides, the older crowd will get all of the references to TMNT’s past and horror films, as well as appreciate Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder making an appearance as Napoleon Bonafrog (it’s awesome). As per usual, the only special features to speak of are the standard “Mutation of a Scene” animatics, but it’s better than nothing. If you’re a fan of the show, Retreat is worth picking up, but be warned that even some adults may be a bit frightened by some of the episodes.