Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been a successful show on Netflix and so of course it just makes sense for a movie to come out. But does it just feel like an extended episode without the big stakes that fans are used to in films?

Nope! This movie does a great job of creating a massive storyline, with some pretty epic fight sequences, and quite a bit of emotion.

Everyone’s favorite turtles – Donnie (Josh Brener), Leo (Ben Schwartz), Mikey (Brandon Mychal Smith), and Raph (Omar Benson Miller) – are visited from the future and learn they must do everything they can to change the course of events with the Krang. This movie has the highest stakes we have seen yet in this series, which warrants the nearly 90-minute runtime.

Those who have seen the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series already know these brothers feel like a different version of the turtles, a younger version of the turtles. Just looking at their names makes that clear, but it is very obvious when watching the show that they still have a lot to learn. This takes place early on in their journey, hence the title “rise of”.

The movie is a wonderful segue into them aging up just a bit. It starts off already in the future where they are much older and have spent nearly their whole lives fighting the Krang, which have taken over the world. Casey Jones is sent back in time by a Doctor Strange-inspired Mikey, who opens up a time portal. Older Sensei Leo instructs Casey to find the brothers and stop the Krang from ever arriving on Earth.

At the Bat

This is much harder than it appears, of course, but it's a great way to bring Casey into the story. Fans who have watched the show know that this series features the first female incarnation of Casey Jones in Cassandra Jones, but now the male version, Casey, is here. We won’t spoil the connection, but it is a great twist towards the end of the film.

Most made-for-TV movies that are part of a series are basically glorified episodes. The stakes are not really raised, and it just seems like the point was to tell a longer story. Not so with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. Those who have seen the series will be thrilled with this film, which does fit in, but is also a big step above what we are used to. This tells an emotional and action-packed story that has certainly changed the course of the series. So don’t think you can skip this one, it is most definitely going to have an impact on where the story of the series goes from here.

Even with this being a bigger-scale movie, it gives off the very same vibes of the show that fans already know and love. Of course, the voice actors are the same, but so is the animation and dialogue style. The jokes are the same silly humor as well. This is something that is very much appreciated. It is telling a massively epic story, but in the same way that fans are used to, allowing the movie to fit seamlessly into the franchise.

Plenty of Fan Service

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie will have lifelong turtle fans squealing over some of the obscure references, but they won’t confuse newer fans. This film services those on both sides of the fandom spectrum, which is extremely important when dealing with a franchise that has been around as long as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have.

The only real issue with this film is that it does drag a little bit in the middle. And with a shorter runtime, this can be a problem. However, there is enough action at the beginning and the end to make it worth sticking through the lengthy dialogue.

Leo fans will be thrilled as this story is really all about him. Yes, everyone is involved and has their own moments, but Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie follows Leo's journey – one that it was very necessary he go on. It is heartwarming and emotional, so just be prepared for the younger ones watching. The movie itself is great for fans of all ages, but there are some parts that might be a bit much for the younger ones, especially if they are attached to these characters.

The most important question though, is do you have to watch the series before the movie? The answer is no. This film does a decent enough job of setting itself aside. Because it starts in the future and goes into the past, where the turtles that are featured in the show live in time, this movie even acts as a good introduction to this version of the brothers. There are certainly a few references here and there that will be appreciated more after watching the series, but this is a great jumping-off point.

So, if you have been thinking about watching the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Netflix series, start off with The Movie when it drops on the streaming platform on August 5th. If you already love these turtles, buckle up for a wild ride through time!

Rating: 8/10 SPECS

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Featured Image Courtesy of Netflix.


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Tessa Smith owns MamasGeeky.com and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.