The new computer-animated superhero film ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,’ opens in theaters on August 2nd. It was written and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (‘Superbad’), and directed by Jeff Rowe (‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’).
What is the plot of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’?
After years of being sheltered from the human world, the four Turtle brothers (Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon) set out on a quest to be accepted as normal teenagers by the people of New York City through acts of heroism. With the aid of their new friend April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri), the brothers go on a hunt for a mysterious crime syndicate, but trouble arises when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.
Who is in the cast of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’?
ECinema News recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Jeff Rowe about his work on ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,’ what he wanted to adapt from the source material, developing the animation, having the actors record together, and how the classic video game ‘Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater’ inspired the music for the film.
You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interviews with Rowe, Ice Cube, Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon.
ECinema News: To begin with, can you talk about developing the screenplay with Set Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and what were some of the elements of the source material that were really important for you to include in this movie?
Jeff Rowe: I mean, I think it’s a lot of things, you got to have Splinter, and you got to have the turtles. They have to essentially be their personalities that they’ve always been. But the biggest initial pivot was like, “We need to make them teenagers. We need to make them feel like real teenagers,” which means the situations they’re going to encounter are going to be relatable to actual teens, as much as possible with a crime plot in the film. Then also, they need to respond emotionally to things like the way a teenager actually would. We love so many of those mutant characters and designs. We found a way to incorporate a lot of things that I thought were cool into the film, but it all just started with we’re going to make them authentically teens.
MF: What was the look and style that you were going for with the animation and what were some of the lessons you learned on ‘The Mitchells vs the Machines’ that you were able to apply to making this movie?
JR: We just wanted to make it look different and make it unique. It’s a new version of the characters and we wanted them to have their own visual identity in the world, and hopefully in a way that supports the characters. So much of the story is about them feeling alienated, wanting to be accepted and feeling flawed that to make them slick and cool looking and perfectly designed, just felt dishonest to them. ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ taught us that this is technologically possible. I think studios used to hide behind technology as like, “Oh, well you can’t do that. The computers aren’t there yet.” But in a post ‘Spider-Verse’ world, and post ‘Mitchells,’ it’s like, no, we can, I know what the machines can do and they can do this, so let’s make it happen.
MF: Why was it important for you to have all the actors record their performances together?
JR: It made it crackle with electricity. It made them so alive and it just let them be relatable and talk to each other. So much of the interaction when you’re a teenager, it’s like your friend says something and you’d roll your eyes and you make a comment about it, or you make fun of them and they make fun back and it’s so hard to script that. But when you get them recording together, it just happens naturally. Then the job became, how do we capture that? How do we edit that? How do we keep the story going while maintaining the loose improvisational nature?
MF: Finally, can you talk about the music in the movie and taking inspiration from the music of ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ video game?
JR: It wasn’t necessarily inspiration from ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,’ but we had a bunch of different things and I love the ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ games, and we had hip hop, we had some punk songs and some metal songs in there at one point that kind of dropped out and we’re like, “Why does this fit together?” It’s just because all of the songs feel rebellious. They’ve got this kind of anti-authority energy to them, which is quintessentially teenage, and then that plus the Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score, it just felt like things that you wouldn’t naturally think to put together, but as Tony Hawk proved, can coexist.
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