New on DVD: Extras enhance mediocre 'Muppets,' documentary details Turtles' rise to greatness

Akron Beacon JournalAugust 14, 2014 

Home viewing this weekend can include another Muppets story as well as a documentary about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Muppets Most Wanted (Disney, $19.99 DVD, $26.99 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo) was a follow-up to 2011's The Muppets, a loving reintroduction of the characters from Jason Segel, who co-wrote the script and co-starred in the film with Amy Adams. Muppets Most Wanted has the same director as The Muppets, James Bobin. And Bobin co-wrote the script with Nicholas Stoller, who co-wrote The Muppets. But it was not as successful as the earlier film, and there's a reason: It is not as good.

It's not simply that the plot — which includes an evil frog, Constantine, who is a ringer for Kermit — is a tired one; like 22 Jump Street, the movie acknowledges up front that it's a reworking of old material. There's a sweetness lacking in this film that the earlier one had, not only in the script but in the performances by Segel and Adams.

But the Blu-ray release in particular aims to draw customers with several extras. Where the standard DVD has the theatrical cut and a music video, the Blu-ray combo and digital release add an "unnecessarily extended" version running about 12 minutes longer than the one shown in theaters. It also promises a Statler and Waldorf cut, which runs about a minute and a half as those two Muppets trim the film down to their favorite parts. There's also a blooper reel.

This has been a big year for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with a new film in theaters (including a 3D rendition) and the 30th anniversary of the publication of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book. The documentary Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount, $21.99 standard DVD) takes you back to the moment when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird met and almost offhandedly created the Turtles.

The first comic was thought to be a one-shot. Eastman and Laird recall being told that the Turtles line of toys would probably last three years. Instead, in one year more than 100 million toys were sold; there have been TV shows and five movies to date, not to mention a concert tour.

The documentary takes us through the Turtles' story chronologically, with plenty of visuals from the various Turtle incarnations and acknowledgment of missteps. There are no DVD extras.

Halle Berry has been having a high-profile summer starring in the CBS series Extant. She will also be available for home viewing Tuesday in Frankie & Alice (Lionsgate, $26.98 DVD), although you can find better ways to spend your time. Berry reminds us again why she's an Oscar winner as she plays a go-go dancer who has two other personalities, and seeks help from a therapist (Stellan Skarsgard). She won the best-actress award from the African American Film Critics Association — for 2010, when the movie was briefly shown in theaters. It reappeared earlier this year, to mostly negative reviews, though the fault was laid more to the been-there-done-that movie than Berry's intense performance.

The documentary Boredom (TDC, $19.98 DVD) has gained some good notices for what it calls the first serious documentary on its title subject. But the DVD release of the 61-minute film is of note because it also includes an "accelerated unboring version for the easily bored"; that runs 48 minutes.

I do like the idea of an accelerated cut. I can see doing that with The Blacklist: The Complete First Season (Sony, $69.99 DVD, $75.99 Blu-ray). I would toss out every scene not including James Spader.

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