The director Jeff Rowe signs a modern film, nervous and very comfortable in its time. Cowabunga?
Still (again!) an adaptation of the Ninja Turtles? In about thirty years, the characters created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird have experienced no less than a dozen transpositions on the small and big screen, with a few rare vintages and a lot of film objects. that we would rather forget. So why do fans and anyone who grew up with the ’90s TV series seem to love this new animated feature from Jeff Rowe (The Mitchells vs. the Machines)? Big project with big budget (no less than 70 million dollars), Ninja Turtles Teenage Years intends to open a new era for the franchise, and is immediately distinguished by its scriptwriting bias – telling the adolescence of the Turtles in the form of an action comedy – as well as its inimitable look – one would swear that the drawings were made in pen. A style that inevitably recalls the Spider-Verse, but Rowe and his teams explore voluntarily rougher graphic spaces, combining content and form in their own way.
We therefore find the four ninjas aged around fifteen, who dream of roaming the world and getting out of the sewers where their master Splinter confines them most of the time, for fear that humanity will reject them. The film reinvents the origin of the Turtles and turns them into frustrated and laughing kids, who are looking for their place in the world. Helped by April O’Neil, they will try to dismantle a mysterious crime syndicate, but an army of mutants will put a spoke in their wheels… Objective: to save New York from destruction.
Very anchored in its time (the smartphone obviously holds an essential place), Ninja Turtles Teenage Years cleverly plays on scale ratios (you go from the sewers to the tallest buildings in a snap of the fingers) and bears the humorous imprint of its producer, Seth Rogen (SuperGrave often comes to mind, less bold). Fun, funny and ultra-paced, the story goes at full speed, sometimes at the risk of forgetting a little to characterize the Turtles, here almost interchangeable. Surely the big downside of the film. But if we accept to let ourselves be carried away and put aside the incessant – and perfectly clumsy – pop culture quotes, Ninja Turtles Teenage Years turns out to be a supercharged adventure on the troubles of adolescence. Let’s bet that an inevitable sequel will be able to correct the minor flaws of this first opus.
By Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears. With the voices (in VO) of Rose Byrne, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen… Duration: 1h32. Released August 9, 2023
We met the director of Ninja Turtles Teenage Years: “We had to stand out and dare”