Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a franchise has been hugely successful and groundbreaking. Originally beginning life as a comic book, TMNT demand went global very quickly, with the first cartoon show gracing our screens twenty six years ago. Ten seasons later, that show was finally put to bed, only to be re-envisaged in 2003, with the next TMNT series, which also lasted a respectable 7 seasons, and was significantly darker to the original, more comedic series. The comics themselves have gone through several series of their own, from the original mini-series and, in the last year, have been re-imagined once again by IDW Publishing. It’s worth checking out.
So with the above, and a hell of a lot of merchandise to go with too, TMNT clearly still has selling power. Cue 2012, and the franchise has a new home in Nickelodeon, and now a new cartoon series. This time the animation is CG, with characters rendered with a Madagascar-esque look and feel to them. Each turtle looks slightly unique, not just from their bandana colour, but also from their skin colour and mannerisms. There is something much more instantly likeable about these guys than the 2003 show; they’ve never been to the surface before, it is their fifteenth birthdays, and are really eager to take that big step into the city. Master Splinter is much bigger than previous incarnations, to be honest he kinda looks like someone on stilts, given the fact you only see his head above his body-covering kimono. There is also a stellar voice cast, with Jason Biggs of American Pie fame as Leonardo, Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) as the hot-tempered Raphael; Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael in the original series, is now Donatello, and joker in the pack Michaelangelo is voiced by Greg Cipes (Beast Boy from Teen Titans). Here is the review of the opening double header.
The animation is great, fluid and has a very unique feel to it. They are closer to turtles-made-men than ever before, down to the flat, rounded feet like a real turtle. Each of the turtles has a slightly different height; their faces are unique to each other, not just their personalities and voices. This brings us nicely onto the voice cast, which is very strong, but I have a slight reservation. Donatello now just sounds like Raphael from the old series, of which I am a huge fan of, so I couldn’t get it out of my head. He doesn’t have the sarcastic nature that Raphael used to have, but they are some tones there at times. Sean Astin’s casting as Raphael will also take some time to grow on me, being a pretty softly spoken guy, even whiney at times, I can’t help thinking Donatello and Raphael should be the other way around. But I’ll have to get used to it.
This two-parter, as expected, covers the origin of the Turtles and Splinter, with only a slight difference to the original’s origin. Nothing as radical as the recent IDW comic series. There is also a great introduction revolving around the Turtles’ love for Pizza. The story unfolds with a wonderful sense of adventure topped with just the right amount of humour, and I did find myself laughing out loud a least a couple of times. The pacing was excellent, the first episode delivering a decent cliff-hanger, leaving you wanting more, of which the second part duly delivered. The ending also paved the way for the rest of the upcoming series predictably, but no less excitingly.
And so the new adventures of the TMNT begins, and boy do they begin well. I loved every second of both episodes, and hope for more of the same in the future. Where the TMNT take their first big steps here, so does the franchise. Highly recommended.