When Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38 years ago, no one expected that the parody survived so many iterations: He has lived through a watered-down (but brutally famous) 80s cartoon series, five live-action movies, a “new mutation” featuring a fifth turtle (the infamous Venus de Milo), a multitude of video games and comic book series, two series of contemporary drawings… And, finally, a rebirth in style and intentions with the controversial ‘The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’.
Leonardo has his katana, he trains hard all week
After its cancellation, ‘Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ gets a second chance to conquer the public in the form of a movie, for which (luckily, since I have not seen the original series) it is only necessary to know the basics of this universe: who are The Foot Clan, how their powers arose… Everything the rest is telegraphed and the creators have the decency not to assume that the public is aware of the changes to the source material, like April O’Neil’s profession or Splinter’s personality (more senile and less sensei).
It’s refreshing, in its own way, to see a work based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so respectful of the lore and its characters and, at the same time, so absolutely revolutionary: the Turtles have magical powers, Raphael is the new leader (and Leonardo the crazy character), Casey Jones comes from the future… Added to his past design, this will make many raise their hands to their heads. But there is nothing wrong: being surprised has been part of the experience of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since its inception.
Overcoming the designs (which are not new, they are the same as those of the series… and they are much better than those of the Jonathan Liebesman film, for example), the film offers us some absolutely insane action scenes with a spectacular and unique animation with echoes of the anime and a frenetic 2D that, sadly, they are not supported by a script to matchwhich is extremely dramatic or comic, without finding a middle ground.
They are mutants and teenagers, they always eat al dente pizza
‘The rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the movie’ is not interesting enough to justify the move to the large format. The argument could be valid for a couple of television episodes but in the end ends up getting long and repetitive: The krangs are fearsome enemies with fabulous powers, yes, but the script is too simple even if it was aimed at children. In this case, with a teenage target, the audiovisual watermarks do not hide an excessively linear script and no surprises along the way.
And it’s a shame, because we start with a journey through time, two unexpected deaths and the introduction of an old acquaintance of the saga: the film sets itself such a high bar that later, when suddenly we go to the lighter comedy and a script that follows the logical evolution of the plot, it is difficult to feel that intensity again. Make no mistake: this feature film wants to be intense with capital letters and at the same time a fabulous comedyentering into an inevitable conflict.
Of course ninja turtles have to be funny. Not that they were hilarious in the original comics, but their concept was. And, once the public has got used to their existence, they have to evolve. The problem is that the jokes and the epic are not well fitted, as if they were part of two different films: Raphael’s serious and dignified phrases do not mix well with Leonardo’s childishness, while Michelangelo and Donatello are more sidekicks between the two than full-fledged protagonists. It’s a shame that we can only sometimes see the four brothers as a whole, because they are the best moments of the film.
No one took them seriously for being meter and a half turtles
However, when it works, ‘The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie’ is an absolute joy. Animation flows with incredible rhythm (especially by Western standards), the fights are as fun as they are vibrant, and the magical powers add new facets to the fighting styles we already knew. A visual delirium that is a real treat and makes you yearn for what could have been.
The news may not appeal to everyone (and I suspect that most of the complaints are not precisely due to the change in personality of the turtles) and that the film lacks substance and a couple of rewrites, but the flashes of genius that it has, including that impossibly ultra-epic endingmake it worthwhile to sit down and enjoy some new turtles for a new generation.
I don’t know if this is the story that the creators of the original series wanted to tell after the cancellation or it is simply a plot that was left loosebut ‘The rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the movie’ needs to lower the intensity a bit and better unite its different parts. The ingredients are there, but it lacks a bit of cooking. Like a good pizza.