Nickelodeon’s New ‘Heroes in the Half-Shell’ Are Indeed a ‘Fearsome Fighting Team’
With the return of shows like Young Justice and Green Lantern (hey, it’s growing on me) PLUS the addition of Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, it was a action-packed Saturday morning for comic and cartoon fans this past weekend. While all of the episodes were great, I was especially impressed by the two-episode premiere of Nick’s TMNT reboot (Rise of the Turtles) which proved to be entertaining for all ages.
The series opens with the Turtles celebrating what is essentially their 15th birthday (Mutation Day) by re-telling their origin story, which borrows elements from the 1987 cartoon (Splinter was once human, not a rat) while adding its own spin on things (The Kraang). It’s the sort of re-telling that feels familiar to older fans, but comes across in a fresh new way for a younger generation. In fact, one of my favorite moments from the premiere is an Easter Egg cameo most will overlook. In the scene where Raph is reading the From the Sewers comic, savvy fans will notice the cover of that comic features none other than Mutagen Man!
The rest of the plot finds the Turtles discovering their love for pizza, finding their fighting style as a group (vs individuals) and saving a much younger April from the clutches of an alien/robot race known only as The Kraang. A mash-up of the villain, Krang, from the original animated series and the Utrom from the 2003 series, The Kraang are a mixed bag at best. They seem to possess a hive-mind consciousness, but ultimately that makes them nothing more than high tech Foot Soldiers (at least from what’s seen here).
What’s not a mixed bag is the new art style which, after an adjustment period, I really came to like. Taking a similar anime aesthetic as the 2003 series and adding a CGI urban grunge, both the characters and their environment come across as dynamic visual elements on screen. Speaking of the characters Jason Biggs, Sean Astin, Greg Cipes and Rob Paulson do a fantastic job bringing the Turtles to life, instilling each with a personality that matches their physique and fighting style.
MUTAGEN MAN CAMEO!
Great characters and voice acting
Fresh, new visual style
Younger, less experienced Turtles
Less than interesting villains (The Kraang)
Master Splinter’s new look
This new TMNT series has a lot going for it, not the least of which includes some top notch voice acting, engaging fight scenes and a truly unique visual style. If the rest of this season proves to be as entertaining while providing us with some better villains, I have high hopes that we’ll be seeing much more of the Turtles (and their mutant foes) to come!