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Old September 30 2012, 03:36 AM   #21
Christopher
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Re: Ninja Turtles CGI cartoon on Nickelodeon this Fall

My favorite part was the Star Trek: TAS pastiche that Leonardo was watching. The look of the animation was a lovingly faithful recreation of Filmation's style, albeit a bit more fully animated.

It was okay -- better than I feared, but not as good as the early seasons of the 2003 series. While that one was very faithful to the comics, this one is drawing far more heavily on the 1987 animated series -- for instance, reverting to the idea that Splinter is Hamato Yoshi turned into a rat, rather than Hamato's pet rat mutated into a more humanoid form as in every other version of the story. Although some of what they're doing is a blend of the '87 series and other versions -- for instance, giving us a whole race of disguised robot-men controlled by alien brains, but calling them Kraang instead of Utroms (and giving them all a voice, provided by Nolan North, that sounds surprisingly like James Avery's Shredder from the '87 series, albeit with Mojo Jojo-style dialogue).

I'm not crazy about the design and animation style, although it's an interesting blend of 2D and 3D elements (borrowing from Kung Fu Panda, perhaps?). The 3D does look too simple and a bit cheap. I also can't stand the new theme tune.

Character-wise, it's okay, though the characterizations are a bit broad and exaggerated. Voice-wise, Jason Biggs is decent as Leonardo, sounding a lot like Leonardo portrayers usually sound. Rob Paulsen and Greg Cipes are up to their usual standard as Donny and Mike -- and it strikes me that Cipes is basically playing Beast Boy again, the dimwitted, hyperactive comic relief. Not sold on Sean Astin as Raphael; although they're going for the standard tough-guy characterization, vocally they haven't gone with the deeper voice he's had in the movies and the '03 series, and instead gone with a voice closer to how he sounded in the '87 show -- which is awkward since Rob Paulsen is right there playing a different character. Overall there's not as much difference among the Turtles' voices as there should be, which has the potential to be confusing at times, or at least less interesting than it could've been. Hoon Lee is good as Splinter, though. As for April, I didn't realize that was Mae Whitman so I wasn't paying as much attention as I should've. I guess she was fine. But I have to say, I'm not happy with Kevin Michael Richardson as the Shredder. I mean, he has a great voice, but he doesn't sound remotely Japanese here, so it's not convincing. He's just doing "default Kevin Michael Richardson bad-guy voice," and I don't think that's the most interesting use of his talents.

I'm not yet sold on the idea of April as a teenager. In the past, whether in her comics/2003-series role as a scientist or her '87-series/live-action movie role as a reporter, April as an adult professional has been a useful ally for the Turtles, someone with enough independence and influence to help them out and give them an anchor in the surface world. As a kid, I'm not sure how useful she can be. And Donatello's crush on her is kind of silly. He's a reptile! How is he even able to find a human attractive?

Still, I don't want to sound too negative. It's not perfect, but it's okay, and a lot of it was funny and entertaining. I'm going to keep watching it, which is more than I can say for the disappointing Ben 10: Omniverse which premiered on Cartoon Network last week, or the Dragons: Riders of Berk series whose first couple of episodes I found adequate but not engaging enough to motivate me to watch more.
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