“Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie” won’t convert any new fans to the heroes in a half-shell, unless they’re under the age of 10. Still, it may pleasantly surprise parents looking for an afternoon cartoon movie to watch with their kids.
From Netflix and Nickelodeon, “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” ties into the animated series of the same name, which ran for two seasons between 2018 and 2020. The four reptilian brothers — Leonardo (voiced by Ben Schwartz), Raphael (Omar Benson Miller), Donatello (Josh Brener) and Michelangelo (Brandon Mychal Smith) — have been given more distinctive character designs to better reflect their individual personalities.
April O’Neil (Kat Graham), formerly a redheaded television reporter (and, often, damsel-in-distress) in the 1980s cartoon, is now a Black university student with a more varied skill set for helping the turtles get out of a jam. Together with their rodent mentor Splinter (Eric Bauza), they face their biggest challenge yet when Leo’s future student Casey Jones (Haley Joel Osment) time-travels back to New York circa 2022 to ask the turtles’ help in defeating the Krang, a half-robotic alien species set on — what else? — taking over the world.
Directed by Ant Ward and Andy Suriano, the film keeps the plot streamlined to better focus on the swashbuckling action and heartfelt (if emotionally simplistic) relationship between the four turtles, particularly Leo and his overbearing older brother Raph. The animation style is snappy and brightly-colored, providing a nice change of pace from the slate-colored blockbusters currently dominating theater screens. And there’s even some good humor to be found here, including a few location-specific jokes that’ll make New Yorkers chuckle. All in all, “Rise” is as dependable as a Manhattan slice: not mind-blowing in the slightest, but just delightfully cheesy enough to keep kids and adults alike satisfied.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes. Watch on Netflix.