In animated-adventure film, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, the year is 2044 and the world is in a terrible place. An alien race known as the Krang has taken over, and the Turtles’ old stomping ground, New York City, is a shell of its former self.
With Earth facing its darkest hour, Michelangelo uses his mystical powers to open a portal back to the past. This portal gives the Turtles’ friend, Casey Jones, the opportunity to travel through time, and hopefully find a way to prevent this dystopian future from becoming a reality.
Casey’s mission is to find a key, which is vital in aiding the Krang’s ascension. But after returning to the past, Casey quickly discovers, the key has already fallen into the hands of the Turtles’ enemy, the Foot Clan.
Teaming up with the present-day Turtles, Casey and Co. attempt to retrieve the key, but their mission goes badly. The Foot Clan get the upper hand, the Krang take their first steps to world domination, and Raphael is captured.
Can Casey and the rest of the gang rescue Raph and save the world? Or is the future inevitable and the world set to fall into the hands of deadly oppressors?
Directed by Andy Suriano and Ant Ward, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is a feature-length picture, starring the vocal talents of Ben Schwartz, Omar Benson Miller, Brandon Mychal Smith, Josh Brener, and Haley Joel Osment. The movie is available to stream on Netflix from today, and is a spin-off of the short-lived Nickelodeon series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
For those who have never watched Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the cartoon was the fourth TMNT ‘toon following on from hit shows back in 1987, 2003, and 2012. This recent cartoon aired on Nick between 2018 and 2020, and reworked and reimagined the Turtles for a new generation of viewers.
I mention this here, because Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made some tweaks to the Turtles mythology, to mix things up a little. Some characters did not display their usual character traits, the Turtles gained some mystical abilities, and the cartoon was more comedic in its approach – and all of this is worth knowing before checking out this new movie.
As to what else you need to know, well, nothing really. The good thing about Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is that it plays very much like a stand-alone adventure, so anyone can jump on board, irrespective of what has come before.
The second good thing about Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is that this film is a lot of fun. This picture is an action-packed epic, which long-time TMNT fans will love, and newcomers (especially younger audiences) will find very appealing.
The movie gets off to a strong start, by depicting the horrors of the future. This nightmarish Krang-controlled reality, which looks as if it has been plucked from The Terminator (1984) or X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), gives the story some darkness, a great deal of drama, and a deadly scenario for the Turtles to contend with.
From here, the movie works its way back, to show how this future came to pass. The story uses Casey Jones to connect the two timelines, and provide a way for audiences to understand what is required from the Turtles in order to save the world.
As the story unfolds, the stakes continue to rise, heroes are forged, and plenty of battles take place. There is a dash of internal conflict for the team, lots of peril, and some rather snappy sequences that light up the screen.
There are also a few gags, some eye-popping animation, and a wonderful colour palette, which ensures this movie is a visual treat. From the story through to the animation, and from the initial premise through to its execution, this movie hits all the right marks.
I’m a big TMNT fan, but I must admit the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is not my go-to iteration of the Turtles mythology. It is the only TMNT cartoon I’ve yet to complete (I’ll get to it eventually), and this is largely because the show is aimed at a younger age demographic than I’m too fussed about.
So, going into Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie I had some reservations. I worried this movie would be aiming to a much younger audience than I would have the patience for, and would be steeped in so much show mythology that I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.
As mentioned above, the mythology aspect is not an issue at all, and likewise, the age range for this film isn’t a problem either. If like me, you’re now in the *cough* ‘middle-aged’ part of your life (sigh), you can certainly find this film entertaining.
Those of you who have young children will also be fine putting them in front of this film too. The sheer amount of action sequences, mixed together with the superb character designs and excellent fight choreography, will be sure to keep them amused from start to finish.
Perhaps best of all, the film includes the all-important messages of teamwork, of family, and of fighting for the greater good, when all hope seems lost. These are values that have always been at the heart of the best TMNT stories, and they are very much front-and-centre of this film.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is a triumph. It brings together all the important elements needed for a solid Turtles film, which is heart, humour, and heroics; it moves at an incredible pace; and it looks so damn good too!
Sure, it doesn’t have the story-telling power of say, a Disney-Pixar movie, and as animated films go, it doesn’t hit the same heights as something like The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021), but this is a lot of fun nonetheless. The movie does what it sets out to do, and doesn’t disappoint along the way.
Since its creation in 1984, the TMNT franchise has proved time-and-time again that it is a franchise with longevity, creativity, and the ability to continually entertain its fanbase. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is certainly a fine example of this, and I expect it will win over a new collection of fans who will remain with Leo, Raph, Don, and Mikey as they move ever onward.