Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review

How is it that the TMNT series finally found its gold standard with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jeff Rowe in its forty-three-year existence with a wonderfully fresh and crisp take on teenage turtles? In retrospect, no TMNT film encouraged the primitive agenda within the namesake title of addressing these turtles with aspirational teen methods and dumb stunts this spectacularly.

We’ve all seen the story beats of how folks preach to their young ones that the world is dangerous and that sometimes you can’t trust the humans in it. Mutant Mayhem skates by on the teen turtles, Donatello (voiced by Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), and Raphael (Brady Noon), and their desperate need to venture into this environment to assess their flawed nature and become seen as someone. The artistry contains a beautiful palette and the sensation of adolescent joy attached, and it never once feels bogged down by an uneven tone or chaotic darkened temptations. In some manner, it’s almost a gesture of competition towards the recent Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, yet dials a different direction with a punky and more grounded approach.

The movie centers around the turtles wanting to fit in with humanity. Yet, their father, Splinter (Jackie Chan), remains overbearingly protective as his recent dealings with humans make him feel more like an outcast. Thus, the turtles disobey their father and meet a kind, spirited journalist named April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri), and go on an adventure to make them become seen as the heroes in New York City as they stop another mutant named Superfly (Ice Cube) from mutating all wildlife to kill and enslave humanity.

The effervescent moments of bondage between the family remain the feature’s most vital points, particularly with warmth energy from Chan’s fatherly-figure Splinter and the fun, awkward teenage conversations between the turtles. The visuals and musical score work in tandem to amplify its inventiveness which will enamor and delight families. The juvenile action stunts are delicately splintered, even with an energetic kaiju-esque climactic battle to keep it on its feet regarding themes and narrative structure.

Yes, this feature does take its own stab toward the superhero series (even referencing Mark Ruffalo and The Avengers), which may become a stifling reaching point of repetitiveness for some out there weary of the select genre. The cliched thematics may not resonate either, as we’ve also witnessed these many times before in the arsenals of film animation. However, much confidence and energy are oozing out there in the mayhem that it’s a success to enjoy. This writer is pleased to have stepped into the multiplex after the 1-2 punches of sour notes of the live-action versions in 2014 and 2016 (which almost begged the question of if this series was spending time paying for its sins).

An engaging restart for the turtle universe, Mutant Mayhem is a new bar of invention and entertainment through the sewers.

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