A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a reimagining of the popular weapons-wielding reptilians' story that features a lot of cartoon violence and action. Explosions, collapsing structures, shockwaves that propel bodies great distances, and marital arts-style fighting are par for the course, and violence is seen as the only means to resolving problems with villains. This series tweaks the characters' appearances and personalities in ways that will be noticeable to viewers who have seen previous TMNT productions, and the result is a visually edgier foursome of heroes. Sometimes the brothers' apparent desire to outdo each other in combat interferes with their ability to work as a team.
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What's the story?
Deep in the sewers under New York City live four mutant turtle brothers -- Raphael (voiced by Omar Miller), Michaelangelo (Brandon Mychal Smith), Leonardo (Ben Schwartz), and Donatello (Josh Brener) -- who are learning to harness their ninja powers and work together as a team in battles against mutant villains. With their human friend, April (Kat Graham), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hone their skills against the fiercest foes, including Baron Draxum (John Cena) and his minions. The real question is not whether they will withstand their enemies, though; it's how they will survive their teen years and each other as the competition among their egos is nearly as intense as their street fights.
Is it any good?
This chaotic cartoon is a mostly unnecessary and incongruous addition to an already enduring franchise. The characterizations of RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES aren't a satisfactory fit among against the general consistency of the original '90s releases or the amped-up 2014 reboot. The Turtles barely resemble each other for one thing; each one is a different species (what??), they vary greatly in size and brawn, and at times they look almost menacing. Splinter (Eric Bauza), their fearless leader, is more sluggish than sage, and the story itself feels like a total rewrite of the heroes' evolutions rather than a reimagining.
The one factor that is consistent is the chronic violence, and that's something viewers would be happy to miss. Even in 2D animation style, these clashes can be excessive, with bodies crashing into brick walls, falling long distances, and enduring explosions. In addition, mutation is another weapon of warfare that villains use on unsuspecting humans. That said, this show's lifeline is an uber-talented voice cast that does a far better job adding personality to the characters than do their reimagined appearances.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teamwork and achieving a common goal. What character traits are important in a good teammate? When do you see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles modeling character strengths like courage and creative problem solving?
Why do you think these characters have maintained their popularity for nearly 30 years? How do they blend reality and fantasy in an unusual way? If you've seen some of their other movies and/or TV shows, do you like the changes this one makes to the Turtles especially?
How differently (if at all) do you react to violence in a cartoon and that same level of violence in a live-action production? Was any of the fighting in this series concerning for you? When cartoon characters have visible injuries, does it change the impact of the violence?
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love classic characters
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