The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have gone through a lot of incarnations over the years ever since they started off as a comic book in 1984. Over the decades, we've gotten many shows and films in live-action and animation based on the pizza-loving adolescent ninja reptilians that have ranged in quality with some being quite fun and others not living up to the mark. Even when Nickelodeon bought the Turtles in 2012, they've kept them alive and going with some fun shows with the stand out being "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" which was filled with some of the best-animated action you'll find on TV. And fortunately, there's even more of that in "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie" the new animated film from Nickelodeon that just debuted on Netflix. Even coming from someone who doesn't know much about the turtles or the show itself, I can safely say this film is incredibly fun to watch. This might be one of the best-animated films I've seen from Nickelodeon in a while and that's saying a lot.
Two years after the defeat of the Shredder, the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leonardo (Ben Schwartz), Raphael (Omar Benson Miller), Donatello (Josh Brener), and Michelangelo (Brandon Mychal Smith) have been getting to relax knowing their greatest villain has been defeated. However, their time is cut short when a fighter from an apocalyptic future named Casey Jones (Haley Joel Osment) comes to them and warns that an alien species known as the Krang will eventually take over the Earth and was sent back in time by his master Leo to stop them. Sure enough, the Krang (Jim Pirri and Toks Olagundoye) eventually do arrive and it's up to the Turtles, their master Splinter (Eric Bauza), and friend April O'Neil (Kat Graham) to stop the aliens and prevent the future from happening. And that's all I'm gonna say.
Even though I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and don't have much knowledge of the show, I can safely say that I had such a fun time watching this film. It might be one of the best-animated films I've seen based on a show in quite some time which is saying a lot given there are some really good ones out there. The story is definitely one that has quite a lot of fun and exciting stuff in it. While it's probably gonna be a bit better for some of the fans of the show since there is stuff in this film that's a bit confusing for some non-fans, it has a lot of exciting action sequences and some fun moments too. It gets off to a great start as we start in the apocalyptic future where the Krang have taken over the Earth and we get a POV shot from Casey as he's being carried by Leo to safety. That scene kept me hooked and while the film did slow down a bit in the first act, it picked itself right back up again once the Krang showed up and threw amazing action sequence after amazing action sequence. My two personal favorites of the film included a fight with a mutated subway train car as well as the climax which was very suspenseful and thrilling. It also helps that the film is very fast-paced and has a lot of great energy to it and it helps due to how dire the situation with the Krang is. Casey talks about how menacing these creatures are and we eventually get to see their true evil so it makes sense why these aliens have to be quickly stopped and it helps really keep the film going. It also helps there are some funny jokes as well including one where the turtles comment on their action pose and how it should be a trailer shot. That one got a big laugh out of me. I can easily say that without a doubt the animation is the best part of the film. The TV show already had some amazing animation and this film doubles down on it and takes it up to eleven.
You can really see the comic book influence pop out of the screen when viewing this film and it leads to a lot of flashy colors and scribbly lines. I love stuff like that. It also helps that the character designs are also terrific, particularly those revolving around the mutations from the Krang. Whatever these aliens touch becomes these mutated monsters and their transformations are so excellently designed and drawn that they looked incredible. They really came across as disgusting and eerie as they should've. Though by far, the best part about this animation is easily the action. The action, the action, the action. This is some amazing animated action that has some great staging, a lot of flashy moments, and immense size and scale. The climax in particular really shines and it was all just incredible to behold. I guess this leads me into talking about the characters and I can say they all were fun to watch. Leo goes through the most change of the film as the film does the trope involving a very cocky and selfish hero getting some empathy and realizing they can't do it on their own and it really works here. Ben Schwartz's performance really is what made it work since I really felt his growth by the end of the film. The other Turtles get to shine as well with Donnie still being nerdy and geeking out over technology, Mikey having some goofball moments, and Raph being the big brother trying to help out his younger siblings and bring some humility into Leo. The Krang was also intimidating villains as well, particularly with the aforementioned designs and I really loved the menace they brought here. April and Splinter have some funny moments as well. I think the only character that I wished could've been expanded a bit more was Casey who appears to be the newcomer to this film. While he did have some fun moments and Haley Joel Osment did a good job playing him, he didn't have a lot of personality compared to the other characters. That's about it though.
In all, "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie" is a ton of fun to watch. The story was thrilling and exciting with great action sequences, the animation was vibrant and striking, and the characters were all goofy and fun. This is definitely a film that people who have and haven't seen the show will enjoy a lot and I highly recommend it. I don't know what Nickelodeon will do the show now, but I do hope they continue it because it certainly will continue to rise to be one of the best incarnations of the Ninja Turtles yet.