TMNT: MUTANT MAYHEM
August 2, 2023 / Paramount Pictures Canada
Starring: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown, Jr., Rose Byrne, Nicolas Cantu, John Cena, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Natasia Demetriou, Ayo Edebiri, Giancarlo Esposito, Brady Noon, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph
Directed By: Jeff Rowe
After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers Donatello (Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), and Raphael (Brady Noon) decide to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts.
They set out to defeat villain Superfly (Ice Cube), a faceless antagonist who has been killing people across New York. Their new friend April O'Neil (Ayo Edebiri) helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them. Believing that mutants belong underground and away from society, they want to rewrite this narrative with karate, friendship, and pizza.
Written By Darren
Rating 3 out of 5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem features outstanding animation and strong voice performances, delivering a reboot that Turtle fans are going to love and that will no doubt help create a new generation of fans for the series.
Ever since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, there has been a craze for three dimensional animation with hand drawn elements that evoke a comic book aesthetic, and it has led to some of the most visually stunning animated films in recent memory. And what better way to reboot the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the big screen than with this style of animation, treating audiences to a dazzling visual experience after the live action, action packed extravaganzas produced by Michael Bay, which was the latest big screen outing for the Turtles. Even not being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan myself, I can’t deny that this film put a smile on my face, even if the nostalgia and fan service was not present for me.
Having lived their entire lives hiding in the sewers of New York City, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo want nothing more than to join the human world above. Their opportunity presents itself when they uncover a group of mutated animals, much like themselves, carrying out a sinister plot to destroy humanity and take over the world. The Turtles find themselves at a crossroad where they have to discover who they are and stand up for their beliefs, while protecting the city they call home at all costs.
As with previous films to use this style of animation, the film is a visual wonder. Instantly, the mix of hand drawn animation and three dimensional computer animation brings the world and characters to life. Much like the Spider-Verse films, this film feels like a comic book come to life which fits the genre perfectly. The darker lighting gives a sense of mystery and danger, which helps elevate the story and build the Turtles journey to becoming heroes. Beyond that, the design for the Turtles themselves is outstanding. They truly look like teenagers, not fully formed and small in stature, and this matches their childlike personalities, unlike other iterations of them on the big screen where they looked like adults. Instantly, whether you are a Turtles fan or not, the animation sweeps the audience up and invests them in the film.
The world building throughout the film is great. From the first scene, the audience is given the backstory of how the Turtles gained their powers, and while the plot of the film is simple and feels like a prolonged episode of the television series, the screenplay is packed with lots of great laughs to pass the time. The flashback sequence featuring the baby Turtles is adorable, with the animation instantly bonding the audience to the characters, while the development of New York City as a setting for the story truly captures the spirit of the city more so than other recent superhero films based there (largely thanks to some great needle drops). Overflowing with heart and an infectious spirit that sweeps the audience up in the excitement of the story, it is easy to be entertained by this simplistic and generic story as it is merely setting the stage for more adventures in future films and television projects.
Though, it is the supporting voice performances that stand out. Jackie Chan is perfectly cast as Master Splinter, naturally possessing the wisdom of the Turtles father and trainer, making for the best performance from Chan in years. The villains feature some of the greatest comedic actors currently working with the likes of Seth Rogen, John Cena, Ice Cube, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne and Hannibal Buress, all of whom are excellent and create some unforgettable characters. Though, it is Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko who steals the show. From the second he arrives on screen, Rudd’s charisma and brilliant comedic timing creates the most enjoyable villain of the film, one that you want to root for from the second you meet him, while delivering some of the best laughs of the film.
You don’t have to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan to enjoy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, it only enhances the experience. All audiences will enjoy the stunning animation and outstanding voice performances from the entire cast, but this portrayal of the Turtles will be a rush of nostalgia for long-time fans of the series while creating something truly magical for younger viewers that will create a new generation of Turtles fans. While I was never a fan of them growing up, preventing this film from truly connecting with me on a higher level, I can see the greatness in this film and what it will mean for fans of the series, even if it wasn’t that for me. From dazzling animation, a fun story full of heart and laughter, and a terrific cast of voice performances, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is easily one of the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films that audiences have seen so far and I cannot wait to see where the characters go next!