The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise on the big screen has been mixed at best. The latest entry, the CGI-style Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, is a brand new take on the iconic franchise that introduces the Turtles to a younger generation of potential fans. And this time, the actors and creators of the movie got almost everything right.
The first live-action film in 1990 portrayed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a way that would be hard to believe if 1989’s Batman hadn’t paved the way. It was dark, gritty, dirty and unbelievable. The sequel, Secret of the Ooze, cleared things up by reminding us that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are primarily comic book characters. Things took a serious turn for the silly in the third live-action film, ending the trilogy. From there, we got the animated TMNT, which was a sequel to the original trilogy and was pretty decent, plus two Michael Bay movies where the characters looked like real monsters.
With Mutant Mayhem, producers and writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have done the best thing anyone could do for the nearly 40-year-old franchise: they made the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a real teenager. . Not only are they voiced by teenagers, but they act like them. They are vulnerable, inexperienced, and hungry to see what the world has in store for them after being shielded from it their entire lives.
And of course, they’re also goofing off, making TikTok videos, talking about their favorite K-pop group, and generally doing what you might expect real teenagers to do in 2023. A picture of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles we’ve ever seen, on or off the screen. These are the turtles that can talk to the younger generation because they are part of the younger generation.
When Michelangelo was making Humphrey Bogart jokes in the original TMNT movie, a nine-year-old me had no idea what he was talking about. But his voice was funny, which is more than enough when you’re nine. Now, the four brothers joke around, often get into trouble, try to impress April, and think they’re the coolest and most interesting people around. They are believable teenage siblings.
However, this believability does not stop with turtles. Even Splinter voiced by Jackie Chan is at his best in this movie. He is not the wise and old coach of the four brothers. He’s a dad and they call him dad freely, he talks to them like a father and it leads to some hilarious interactions.
Avril (Ayo Adebiri), like the turtles, is a teenager, but one who dreams of becoming a journalist one day. He’s ambushed by giant green mutants, but as a social outcast at school, the group quickly bond into one of the most believable teenage friend groups you can imagine. Sure, Leonardo is head-over-heels in love with her, as we’ve seen in the trailers, but even that feels genuine as he looks at the first human to see him as anything other than a monster.
This is an important piece of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lore in Mutant Mayhem. When they were young, Splinter tried to expose them to the world, but the humans did not take kindly to them. Therefore, he has raised his young sons to fear and hate humans, who he says are real monsters.
Almost every named character in the movie is on the mutant villain team, creating an interesting dynamic that we don’t usually see in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. For the most part, these are movies where the Turtles fight their eternal enemy, the Shredder. Sure, everyone else, mutant or otherwise, he gets caught up in his plans eventually becomes part of the fight, but in Mutant Mayhem, the mayhem is caused by, you guessed it, mutants. to be
This is largely due to a revamped origin story for our heroes. In this version, it was troubled scientist Baxter Stockman who created the mutants while trying to mutate his family of giant animals. The ooze he creates and disposes of in the sewer not only creates the Turtles, but also a small army of animals that have mutated thanks to Stockman’s experiments, among others. This is where the film’s villains come from, we meet Bebop (Rogen), Rocksteady (John Cena), Ray Fillet (Post Malone), Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), Wingnut (Natasia Demetriou) and Mundo Gekko. become Paul Rudd), among others. Leading the group is Superfly, a giant mutant fly with the voice of Ice Cube, who says Stockman is the true father of all mutants.
The mutants all look and sound great, taking designs from the original animated series and the action figure line and modernizing them the same way the movie did for the Turtles – yes, the Turtles all have cell phones, as they should. The only problem is that none of the “evil” mutants get a decent amount of character development, even if there are a lot of them. Truth be told, though, it’s hard to know which one to miss because they’re all so much fun. Well, almost all of them.
The weakest of the bunch is Cube’s Superfly. It could be argued that it’s partly because he’s a character created specifically for this film, so there’s no nostalgia or reminiscence about it. In the end, though, unlike his mutant henchmen, who all have more of a comic side to the film, Superfly is supposed to matter. He’s the main baddie, though undeniably hollow. Historically, Stockman himself jumps into a giant fly which would have been an interesting way here. Instead, Superfly is just a slimy villain intent on destroying humanity and ruling the world, whether the other mutants agree with him or not.
This is the only weakness of a beautiful and attractive film. The art style is reminiscent of the Spider-Verse films as well as director Jeff Rowe’s latest film, Mitchells vs. As more studios experiment with moving away from Pixar’s animation style to become more experimental, the results continue to amaze us. This is especially interesting with Mutant Mayhem, which is about teenagers and yet tries to look like it was made by teenagers. The result is an incredibly messy look for the film, which plays right into this version of New York City, as well as this take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
All in all, this movie is a big win for the franchise that has taken a lot of hits in recent years. Michael Bay’s Turtles are now dead and buried, hopefully, with Mutant Mayhem — which already has a sequel and TV series in the works — paving the way for more TMNT.