The Turtles standing around with each other

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

October 12, 2023
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They finally got teenagers to voice the Turtles! Oh, and the movie is pretty great, too.

Set during the Turtles’ formative years, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a back-to-basics approach for these Turtles in a Half Shell following Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micah Abbey), Raphael (Brady Noon), and Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), as they rise out of the sewers and step into their own as heroes, brothers, sons, and most importantly, teens. Living a somewhat sheltered life thanks to their overbearing and paranoid father, the humanoid rat known as Splinter (Jackie Chan), the Turtles soon meet an aspiring journalist in April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) and slowly begin to reveal themselves to the world just as an evil crew of mutant monsters linked to the Turtles’ origin begins to wreak havoc across New York City. Torn between listening to their father, wanting to have a normal teenaged life, and needing to prove their worth as heroes, Leo, Donnie, Raph, and Mikey must decide what matters to them most, or else risk losing their family, themselves, and the city they call home.

Immediately making a case for being the best-looking animated movie of the year thanks to its grungy yet beautiful art style (I said what I said, Across the Spider-Verse), the animation put on display here is jaw-dropping to say the least, acting as a wholly unique look that sells these revamped Turtle designs well. Looking like a cross between a kind of stop-motion animation mixed with a painterly, comic book-y art style that pops off the screen, Mutant Mayhem absolutely nails the Turtles’ latest transition into the world of computer graphics, with the star-studded voice cast further bringing to life the world the filmmakers have created here. Evenly paced throughout while giving audiences just enough action scenes, laugh-out-loud moments, character-driven beats, and fan service to satisfy, I was pleasantly surprised with nearly everything I saw in this one, with the spot-on musical score meshing well with the vibe these younger Turtles give off.

But despite all the good this movie does, I will admit there were a couple of things that stood out to me as being a bit off. Not only is the story a bit simple at times, but thanks to the filmmakers finally depicting the Turtles as actual, you know, teenagers, this appropriate approach led to a few scenes that felt a bit too familiar for a coming-of-age story like this, making me wish there was a little more to story beats that audiences have undoubtedly seen a hundred times before. Other than that, I had some issues with how the script portrayed both Splinter and Mikey. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate Splinter’s dislike and untrustworthiness towards humans, but the entire sloppy weirdo, non-martial arts master angle felt way off to me. Similarly, Mikey’s characterization didn’t ring true at times, as his usual immature, jokester, “little brother” persona felt dialed back and practically nonexistent, ensuring that he melted into the background as a character, especially considering he had the least to do compared to his brothers.

I may have some nitpicks with this one, but overall, it’s hands down the best TMNT movie since the original, and that’s before you factor in the jaw-dropping visuals and near-perfect musical score. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem successfully brings these amphibious ninja brothers back into the spotlight while setting them up for a new generation to enjoy, with all signs pointing to an even better and more exciting second installment yet to come. Cowabunga indeed!

They finally got teenagers to voice the Turtles! Oh, and the movie is pretty great, too. Set during the Turtles’ formative years, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a back-to-basics approach for these Turtles in a Half Shell following Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micah Abbey), Raphael (Brady Noon), and Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), as they rise out of the sewers and step into their own as heroes, brothers, sons, and most importantly, teens. Living a somewhat sheltered life thanks to their overbearing and paranoid father, the humanoid rat known as Splinter (Jackie Chan), the Turtles soon meet an aspiring journalist in April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) and slowly begin to reveal themselves to the world just as an evil crew of mutant monsters linked to the Turtles’ origin begins to wreak havoc across New York City. Torn between listening to their father, wanting to have a normal teenaged life, and needing to prove their worth as heroes, Leo, Donnie, Raph, and Mikey must decide what matters to them most, or else risk losing their family, themselves, and the city they call home. Immediately making a case for being the best-looking animated movie of the year thanks to its grungy yet beautiful art style (I said what I said, Across the Spider-Verse), the animation put on display here is jaw-dropping to say the least, acting as a wholly unique look that sells these revamped Turtle designs well. Looking like a cross between a kind of stop-motion animation mixed with a painterly, comic book-y art style that pops off the screen, Mutant Mayhem absolutely nails the Turtles’ latest transition into the world of computer graphics, with the star-studded voice cast further bringing to life the world the filmmakers have created here. Evenly paced throughout while giving audiences just enough action scenes, laugh-out-loud moments, character-driven beats, and fan service to satisfy, I was pleasantly surprised with nearly everything I saw in this one, with the spot-on musical score meshing well with the vibe these younger Turtles give off. But despite all the good this movie does, I will admit there were a couple of things that stood out to me as being a bit off. Not only is the story a bit simple at times, but thanks to the filmmakers finally depicting the Turtles as actual, you know, teenagers, this appropriate approach led to a few scenes that felt a bit too familiar for a coming-of-age story like this, making me wish there was a little more to story beats that audiences have undoubtedly seen a hundred times before. Other than that, I had some issues with how the script portrayed both Splinter and Mikey. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate Splinter’s dislike and untrustworthiness towards humans, but the entire sloppy weirdo, non-martial arts master angle felt way off to me. Similarly, Mikey’s characterization didn’t ring true at times, as his usual immature, jokester, “little brother” persona felt dialed back and practically nonexistent, ensuring that he melted into the background as a character, especially considering he had the least…

8.1

Cowabunga It Is!

The Verdict

8.1

8

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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