Monday, 18 March 2019

DVD Review: Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you've been following my for blog for the past 10 years, then you would know I've been a big of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since 1987. Like many kids growing up in the late 1980s, I watched the original TMNT animated series. While the cartoon has unfortunately aged quite a bit over years, it's still my favorite TMNT series; though, I did enjoy the 2012 computer-animated series.

Last year, Nickelodeon debuted the fourth TMNT animated series, titled Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,which is oddly similar to the first episode of the 2012 series, Rise of the Turtles. The pilot episode, Mystic Mayhem, was also released "free" on YouTube. Since I love anything that is free, I did watch Mystic Mayhem when it debuted. Let's just say the new animation style didn't appeal to me right away, as well as the many unnecessary character changes; so I made no attempt to watch the new series. That being said, after seeing the art cover for the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD, my interest was reignited and I thought it would give the series another chance.

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($14.98; Not Rated; 93 minutes) arrived on DVD from Nickelodeon last week featuring the 22-minute episode Mystic Mayhem and six 12-minute episodes. There are no special features or bonus extras.

The episodes include:

  • Mystic Mayhem - After goofing around in New York City, the turtles and their friend April O'Neil stumble upon their first villain, Baron Draxum. In order to defeat Draxum and his Oozesquitos, the turtles must exchange their weapons for mystic ones.
  • Origami Tsunami - While attempting to track down the paper thief duo, the Turtles meet the Foot Clan, who are making origami warriors out of the stolen paper.
  • Donnie's Gifts - After giving his brothers new gear that he created himself, Donatello must destroy his own creations after the gifts malfunction during a fight with Meat Sweats.
  • War and Pizza - April's new job as a party captain at Albearto's Pizzeria hasn't been easy. After Donatello upgrades one of the animatronics, total chaos occurs.
  • Mascot Melee - Dressed in disguises, the turtles travel across Times Square to purchase a new robe for Splinter.
  • Shell in a Cell - After falling from a rafter, Leonardo lands on Ghostbear during a wrestling event and is crowned the new champion.
  • Minotaur Maze - After the stumbling upon the mystical Undercity, the turtles enter the Maze of Death to find the world's greatest pizza.

Final Thoughts

While my favorite TMNT animated show will always be the 1987 series, in my opinion the best made series was Nickelodeon's 2012 series. Like many other fans, I was a bit surprised when Nickelodeon announced another reboot series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which uses 2D animation instead of the 2012's excellent 3D animation. The new series has many changes, such as April is now an African American and each turtle is a different species. Yep! The turtles are are no longer biological brothers! Raphael is an alligator snapping turtle, Leonardo is a red-eared slider, Michelangelo is an ornate box turtle, and Donatello is a spiny softshell turtle. Raphael is now the oldest of the four instead of Leonardo. Splinter's human name has been changed to Lou Jitsu. This character has been dumbed down! Instead of a wise mentor, Splinter is now a lazy couch potato!

Instead of focusing on clever plots and character building, the premise of the series is slapstick fun with an added dose of violence, similar in vain to the original series, but only goofier.

It took me a few episodes to get use to the new animation style and voice cast. The animation is very colorful, but the new turtle designs are bit too silly. The first episode relies too much on a mystical plot that goes nowhere. It seems like the story's only purpose was to give the turtles new weapons. The other six episodes on the DVD are more fast paced (mostly thanks to their short 12-minute runtimes) and the plots are more entertaining.

Overall, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is aimed for a much younger audience than the previous animation series. While it's not as good as the others, the episodes are still fun to watch.

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