Any attempt to talk about the relevance of Maurício de Sousa In Brazilian culture, it's raining in the wet. The characters of Monica's Gang, throughout its more than 60 years of history, have become icons for people of different generations in our country. Such a huge and long-lasting success would certainly one day expand to other types of media, including cinema. And that's exactly what happened, bringing to the public the praised Monica's Gang: Ties (2019) and Monica's Gang: Lessons (2021).

The new film produced by MSP, with direction Maurício Eça, does not have a direct connection with the previous ones, however. The new (and bold) proposal leaves aside the classic narratives focused on the childhood of Brazil's best-known gang, but embarks on the paths of Monica's Young Gang, in a clear attempt to reach a teenage audience. But has this risky approach brought positive results?

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In Turma da Mônica Jovem: Reflexes of Fear, Monica and his friends reach high school (entitled to a cameo of one's own Maurício de Sousa, who seems determined to become what Stan Lee went to the movies Marvel), in a new school and with new challenges. One of them involves the threat of selling the museum in the Limoeiro neighborhood, which causes everyone to get involved in an attempt to save it. This is the trigger for young people to fall into a plot full of fantasy involving the passage of a comet and an old local urban legend: the dreaded Bucket head.

Crítica | Turma da Mônica Jovem: Reflexos do Medo 1
Image: Imagem Filmes

The Monica's Young Gang emerged in 2008, as a way to adapt such iconic characters for a young audience. His stories, which have a clear influence from Japanese manga, involve issues relevant to young people, such as love, school, friendships, but often using fantastic and magical elements to address them. Despite facing some initial resistance, the series became a huge success, undergoing regular updates to its themes, and today it can be considered almost as relevant as its classic version. 

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It wouldn't be fair to compare this new film with the company's previous productions. Monica's Gang, but the question remains whether the change was really necessary, since the actors established in the previous films (the last one released in 2021) could already fit well into a young version of their child characters. A controversial choice, but it is not our place here to compare the two casts. It is necessary to see this production as something different from the previous ones, and is best seen as a new beginning for the group.

And perhaps because it is precisely a new beginning, the film slips at some points. Turma da Mônica Jovem: Reflexes of Fear seeks to adopt the content of comic books, dealing with themes valid for young people, such as friendship, loss of identity, social action to preserve heritage, all of this combined with a generous dose of fantasy. And although it is possible to see the dedication and good intentions put into the script and direction, it is also difficult to avoid noticing a certain inconsistency. There are times when there could be better care in these aspects, which ends up taking away some of the weight that the scenes could bring, in addition to the recurring use of easy solutions to the plot.

The cast, in general, delivers the work expected for such young actors. It is possible to see some lack of firmness and security and hesitation at times (something that could be minimized with greater care in the direction). But it is possible to point out some highlights, such as Sophia Valverde (Monica), Xande Valois (Onion), Theo Solomon (Smudge), Carolina Amaral (Denise), Besides Matthew Solano (like the fun Professor Licurgo, a less crazy version of the popular character Crazy comics).

Crítica | Turma da Mônica Jovem: Reflexos do Medo 2
Mateus Solano – Imagem Filmes

It is true that other characters could be better used. Several other members of the class are present, some even with a certain prominence (such as Magali in Bianca Paiva; The Milena in Carol Roberto; or the A.D in Yuma Ono), while others appear very little or are even difficult to identify throughout the film. Perhaps casting so many characters was a mistake, since most of them only make one cameo, but at least they could appear more in the future.

Turma da Mônica Jovem: Reflexes of Fear It's a bold bet, as it completely deviates from successful films (which were undeniably successful). By following new paths, some stumbles occurred, but the final result can still please children and young people. Its objective is to start a new phase of films based on this fantastic universe and so rooted in our imagination. The post-credits scene already makes clear one of the likely elements present in the next feature. Let's hope.

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