It seems like everything in entertainment is divisive these days. If you keep things the same, it’s too much like what’s come before it. Change things up and go in new directions, and you’ve ruined a franchise. At least, that’s what certain very vocal fans tend to say. The TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES franchise to me is a lot like BATMAN (who they’ve actually teamed-up with before). Since 1984, it’s seen constant reinvention with different looks and new takes on familiar characters that sometimes inhabit an unfamiliar form. Most of the time, it works. Now, after running nearly six years in a CGI incarnation on Nickelodeon (which ran parallel to a vastly different-looking live action film series), the TMNT crew is being reinvented once more for RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.
From the official announcement: Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reimagines the characters in a fresh new way, featuring jagged-shelled Raphael as a snapping turtle, wielding twin tonfas as his weapons; Leonardo as a red-eared slider, using an ōdachi sword; Donatello as a soft-shell turtle, sporting a tech-bo staff; and Michelangelo as a box turtle, arming himself with a kusari-fundo. Along for the adventure is the Turtles’ most trusted ally, April O’Neil, a street savvy native New Yorker and Splinter, father figure and sensei to the Turtles.
The series stars the voice talent of Omar Miller (Ballers) as Raphael, Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) as Leonardo, Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith (You’re The Worst) as Michelangelo, Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries) as April O’Neil and Eric Bauza (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Splinter. WWE Superstar John Cena lends his voice as villain, Baron Draxum, an alchemist warrior mutant who seeks to turn all of humanity into mutants.
The Turtles’ hold distinct personality traits and skills, including: Raphael, as the oldest and biggest brother, he is the leader full of enthusiasm and bravado; Leonardo, the self-professed ‘coolest’ brother possesses irreverent charm and a rebel heart; Donatello, a mechanical genius and tech wizard whose ninja skills are second only to his coding; and Michelangelo, the youngest brother, a skateboarder and artist who is wild and imaginative.
At first, the images are jarring – but when explained, I don’t know that we’ve ever seen the TMNT crew presented in this way before… in that each member is a specific breed of turtle. That’s interesting. We also have a completely different take on April and Splinter, along with a new villain – and that, too, is exciting.
I expect to get a sneak-preview of the new toys at Toy Fair in New York City later this month during an event at Playmates Toys, so stay tuned! RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES will debut later this year on Nickelodeon.