Starring: Ben Schwartz, Brandon Mychal Smith, Omar Benson Miller, Josh Brener, Kat Graham, Eric Bauza
Written By: Various
Directed By: Various
Studio: Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Media Distribution
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Reinventing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once again, “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” finds the mutant brothers back home with 2D animation and enough goofy antics and over-the-top villains to keep the boys in green busy for the foreseeable future.
“Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is the revamped version of the Ninja Turtles which replaces the critically acclaimed and overall awesome 2012 CGI series. Steering away from a focus on continuity and overarching plots as well as the heavy science fiction elements of that series, “Rise” brings the mystical elements of Turtles lore to the forefronts as well as more self-contained episodes ala “Teen Titans Go!”. It would appear that the original fans of the TMNT are no longer the target audience as the over-abundance of wackiness and non-linear storytelling are now geared towards the third generation of fans.
Along with the reversion back to 2D animation, the studio also decided to revamp the Turtles and their supporting characters. Leonardo no longer leads but Donatello still does machines. Raphael is the team leader while Master Splinter is more reminiscent of a supporting character on “Ren & Stimpy” than as the wise sensei of four martial arts masters. April has become a woman of color and takes on a more active role in the series as both a fighter and a lead character. Most of the villains are new to the series and fit the mold of classic cartoon villains but the Foot does show up with more of a mystical background similar to aspects of the 4Kids series.
Contained on this DVD release (yes, Nickelodeon has yet to release their HD TMNT shows on Blu-ray), are the first 7 episodes of “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Each episode runs approximately 12 minutes give or take and this release contains no special features. It would have been nice to get something extra on the release such as the New York Comic Con panel or some behind-the-scenes stuff but the release is of the vanilla variety. At least the release is within a decent timeframe for those that may have missed the original airings of the episodes so that they won’t be far behind with the new episodes already being released.
My favorite thing about the series is definitely the voice-acting. Not only have they brought on classic cartoon veterans like Rob Paulsen (who is also director of voice talent and voiced Raphael in the original TMNT series as well as Donatello in the 2012 show) and Maurice LaMarche but also well-known actors like Omar Benson Miller as well as up-and-comers such as Brandon Mychal Smith and Kat Graham.
Even though the Turtles look more weird and goofy than usual, the animation is stunning and the freeform direction of the show lends for more over-the-top action sequences and this allows for plenty of opportunity for more eye-popping visuals. The color palette is more in-line with a standard animation sequence but the vibrant use of color brings the characters to life moreso than any TMNT 2D show before. Yet another reason that there should be HD releases of TMNT shows!!!
While the concept of making things fresh and new is a novel idea and while people never like change, the feel of “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is that of something so far off from the source material that if might as well be labeled Young Wacky Fighting Reptiles. With each previous iteration of the Turtles being slightly different from the last and each with their own obstacles to hurdle (remember the vitriol involved with the 2012 series animation style and their rounded feet), “Rise” takes so many liberties that it’s hard to root for it. On the surface it looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, but underneath it all it feels like entirely something else. Time will tell where the show goes and hopefully it will have its place in TMNT lore and in the hearts of new TMNT fans abound.
English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Stereo, Spanish 2.0 Stereo
English, French and Spanish Subtitles
Bottom Line: “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” may be a revamped version of the Ninja Turtles that goes back to its 2D roots, everything else about the show seems about as unfamiliar as your long-lost frog cousins from Florida. This is a completely new TMNT show for a much younger generation than ever before.
Running Time: 93 Mins
Rating: Not Rated