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Movie Review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’

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(L to R) April O’Neil, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo in Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies in a Point Grey Production ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.’

Striking animation and its rapid dialogue make ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ a fun watch in theaters. The heroes in a half-shell take on the powerful Superfly while juggling their desire to fit in with the human world in the latest animated feature by Paramount.

In ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,’ teenage turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michaelangelo are sheltered within the sewers of New York, longing to be like normal teenagers. They meet April O’Neil, an inspiring journalist who asks for their help in taking on a mysterious crime syndicate. They soon realize there is a much more dangerous threat that could bring harm to New York City.

“A new generation of heroes will rise… from the sewers.”

PG1 hr 39 minAug 2nd, 2023

Showtimes & Tickets

After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic… Read the Plot

Who is in the cast of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’?

Initial Thoughts

One of the most eye-catching elements of this movie is the animation style. It resembles the style we see in ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ mixing 3D animation and 2D hand-drawn design. It’s very distinct and perfect for the quippy dialogue and fast-paced action scene. The film includes plenty of references for dedicated Turtle fans, yet it is modern and hip for the new and younger audience as well.

Story and Direction

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ director Jeff Rowe.

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ director Jeff Rowe.

The film is directed by Jeff Rowe and Kyle Spears and gives the iconic turtle teens a fresh start. Opening the movie with an introduction to scientist Baxter Stockman and his work with mutation, the agents of T.C.R.I storm Stockman’s lab in order to steal his research. Stockman’s mutated fly fights back to in order to protect him, resulting in the lab being destroyed and some of the mutagen leaking down the sewer. This quickly establishes the antagonist, later named Superfly, as well as other well-known mutants such as Bebop and Rocksteady. This also builds the foundation for the inevitable battle between the Turtles and Superfly.

While long-time fans are familiar with the origin of the turtles, there will be new audiences who are just meeting them for the first time. The film quickly sets up the dynamic of the brothers through their wisecracking banter and their undeniable bond. Although we know the Turtles to be crime fighters in past iterations, the movie doesn’t have the brothers battling villains right off the start. It focuses on the “teenager” part of the movie title and shows that although they don’t complain about running basic errands for their dad, they also long to stay above the sewers to enjoy normal things like a drive-in movie or see a concert, which gets them in trouble with Splinter who often warns them about the humans.

Through a quick and hilarious exposition montage by Splinter of his and the Turtles’ origins, we understand why Splinter often cautions the brothers against being among the humans. Reluctantly, the brothers stay hidden in the shadows, away from humans and the world they long to be a part of.

Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo in Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies in a Point Grey Production 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.'

(L to R) Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo in Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies in a Point Grey Production ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.’

Past ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movies and TV shows often cast adult actors as the leads, but in ‘Mutant Mayhem,’ the voice talents behind the four brothers and April O’Neill are, in fact, teenagers. This provided the characters with an authentic youthful energy. Combined with their use of modern lingo and endless references to pop culture, this energy carries through the entire film, making the movie quite fast-paced.

The first two acts of the movie doesn’t focus too much on Superfly, even though he is the villain of the story. Instead, it focuses on the Turtles’ desire to be a part of the human world and do normal teenage things like go to high school. It also tells the story of why Splinter is so strict about the Turtles being seen by the humans, as he recollects his bad experience of being shunned and chased by humans. Aside from the awesome action sequences, the larger story is about the desire to fit in and be accepted for who you are.

Related Article: Ice Cube Talks Playing Superfly in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’

Easter Eggs And Pop Culture References

Ice Cube as Superfly in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,' which opens in theaters on August 2nd.

Ice Cube as Superfly in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,’ which opens in theaters on August 2nd.

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes’ has been around since the 80s, starting out as a comic book created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Since then, many iterations have been created, from animated series to live-action movies. Fans heading into ‘Mutant Mayhem’ will need to keep their eyes and ears peeled for easter eggs and references. A segment of the “Ninja Rap” from 1991’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II’ can be heard in one of the scenes. Other familiar phrases like “Cowabunga” can also be heard in the movie.

This animated film also includes many modern references, as the Turtles long to be a part of the humans and learn what they can through social media since they can’t interact with humans. The brothers referred to current musicians and media such as Beyonce, BTS, ‘Attack on Titan,’ the ‘Avengers‘ movie, and more.

Final Thoughts

The movie’s vibrant animation and hilarious writing make this an entertaining watch. The witty and rapid banter between all the characters keeps the energy high and the laughs coming throughout the whole movie, though at times, some jokes were repeated too much that it grew tiresome. Seeing the Turtles somersault between building and hitting their iconic poses will take you down nostalgia lane. This movie gave the well-known franchise a fresh start without erasing the good of the previous movies and series.

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ receives 7 out of 10 stars.

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.'

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies Present ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.’

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