They're heroes in the half-shell and they are back in theaters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
offers a live-action reboot that has Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael fighting Shredder to save April O'Neil. Cowabunga!
Our theatrical review
will weigh in on whether or not this new release is worth your time, while this column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going, complete with a viewers poll where you can weigh in on how you plan to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The concept of high-kicking, karate-fighting turtles suggests that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
would be a great fit for 3D. However, this movie closely follows April O'Neil (Megan Fox), whose misadventures include hiding behind things, meetings with her editors, and long conversations with her dad's old research partner. There's large swaths of this film where the 3D has nothing interesting to do.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Planning & Effort Score
filmmakers are very proud of the comprehensive motion-capture that went into the creation of their computer generated ninja turtles, but have been quiet about the film's 3D. Variety
notes that the production favored post-conversion over shooting in 3D. Having seen some stellar examples of post-converted 3D of late, like Godzilla
andNeed for Speed
, I won't fault Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
for a post-production upgrade. However, some of the tracking shots suffer in 3D, suggesting some scenes could have been better blocked for this device. Frankly, the stutter it creates is distracting.
Before the Window Score
This is the element of 3D that appears to pop out at you. In a variety of action sequences as well as the animated opening, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
finds little things to push before the bounds of the theater screen, like snow, splinters of wood and other debris. At times, this does give the action an added sense of danger, and adds a nice bit of the gimmicky fun that only 3D can deliver.
Beyond the Window Score
Conversely, this is where 3D makes the world of the movie appear to have realistic depth. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
makes best use of this element when the turtles are in their sewer home, making the base feel cavernous and rich with detail and depth. But as I mentioned above, there are too many scenes set in boardrooms and other less-than-thrilling settings. There is a scene later in the movie set on a snow-covered mountain, which would seem like a great venue for using this device, as the turtles race around using their shells as sleds. But many moving shots give us little time to appreciate the enhanced depth. Only in slo-mo moments of fight scenes are we given a moment to marvel at Beyond the Window.
3D glasses by their very nature make the projected picture dimmer, so 3D prints need to compensate accordingly to prevent the action from being lost in shadows. Director Jonathan Leibesman tries to give his reboot a gritty edge by going literally dark. A high contrast look occasionally creates corners that are so dark you'll be left squinting. Regrettably, this includes the entrance of Shredder, and moments in the sewers. Thankfully, the climax is brightly lit. You won't miss a moment in shadow there.
This is an extremely rudimentary test to show in the basest terms how much 3D you're getting on screen. Take the glasses off, and observe the blur. This will show you where different perspective is being manipulated to create the 3D effect. When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
was tested, the 3D planes were evident. The 3D is there, it's just hard to take in between quick cuts, and a camera so often in motion.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can be bad for you, causing nausea, headaches, or eyestrain. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
's 3D didn't make me feel ill personally, but there were moments where the moving camera's cinematography collided with the 3D in a way that made it a struggle to focus. Obviously some members of the audience are going to be more affected by others, so know that there is a rather high risk factor in this one.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Don't see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
in 3D. There are a few moments where the 3D packs an extra wallop to the carefully choreographed TMNT fight scenes. But, by and large, there are so many visual flares in this over-earnest summer spectacle that the 3D gets lost in the fray.