RISE OF THE TURTLES REVIEW

It’s no secret that love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the first step in the lifelong journey that made us into the Tower we are today. So we thought it appropriate to give a rundown of their most recent premiere. Quick and easy, the Turtles are back in full force.

It’s fresh yet familiar and fits right into the wave of high quality SatAM that’s been slowly making a comeback. The action is amazing, and intense. And the throwbacks to all versions of the turtles, ’03, ’87 and Mirage, are much appreciated. It’s much lighter in tone than some of its contemporaries, like Korra or Young Justice, but you need some lightheartedness in a kids industry.

We say ‘kids’ with the utmost respect. Like Pixar and other sources of high quality animation, kids genres are really among the best out there. Appropriate for children, but still engaging for adults. And as comics and cartoons have proven, if the source material is strong enough it can really grow into a universally good experience in storytelling, like The Dark Knight Saga. That’s the business we’re in too.

Details after the jump.

Jump! oldschool style.

TMNT is an interesting franchise. Like Batman, it can take on wildly different tones, from dark and gritty to funny and campy. As long as you keep to a few essential characterizations and beats in the origin story (I’m looking at you Alien Turtles…and Venus) you can take liberties with almost everything else and still find an audience.

What’s essential to the feel of Ninja Turtles? Group dynamics. You have the fun guy, the smart guy, the tough guy, and the serious guy. It’s a winning combination not lost on this new incarnation of the fearsome fighting team. “Who’s your favorite turtle” is always the first thing you ask a fan. Nickelodeon’s promotions team wisely picked up on this. (Raph and Leo at the Tower btw.)

Choose Your Character

What’s most different this time around is that the cast reads a whole lot younger than usual. The turtles feel like kids fresh into highschool age instead of older teens. Splinter is middle instead of old aged. Mike is louder and more of ‘the fool’ than usual; Raph is more of a jock than a brooding loner; Leo isn’t an exemplary hero himself yet but is a fan of that archetype; and Don is sarcastic, he’s smarter than the rest and he knows it. But his overt crush on April, who is of course literally aged down to being 16, is admittedly strange.

It’s an interesting shake up to the formula, and the writing makes it work for the most part. There’s room for character development down the line. You could easily see these turtles maturing into their Movie 2007 counterparts.

Decrease Age, Increase Saturation. But come on, not one in the same place in the lineup?

Ciro Nieli’s stamp of teen shows, like Teen Titans before, is all over this set of turtles however. Not a huge fan of the Wingding Eyes, and over exaggerated anime markers but they add a little flavor to a few moments. Still subtlety is best.

Not gonna get too much into the plot but the throwbacks to the 87 series are evident from the hip hop remix theme song. Happy to see that mutant enemies are back in full force, something introduced in the Fred Wolf Turtles that was typically frowned upon by Laird and Eastman but works well.

The only thing that struck out as cringeworthy was the way the Kraang talk, but all in all, there are few things to complain about if you’re a fan of turtles. The animation is slick, the action is intense, and the writing is snappy. The characterizations have changed slightly but the high quality voice acting keeps it believable, and though I have some nitpicks, it was just fun to watch. 

The series can go in any number of directions from here, but for the hour long series premiere it shows a lot of promise. The Tower gives it a stamp of approval, 7/10.

Watch the episode on the official site, (if they don’t upload it themselves, the piraters will)

Cowabunga – I mean, Booyakasha!
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