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Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

The TMNT are constantly evolving and the latest version that recently hit theaters takes cues from the Spider-Verse while delivering a new, fresh, and funny take on the Ninja Turtles.

15 years after getting transformed by the mysterious Ooze, the teenage Turtles Leo (Nicolas Cantu), Donnie (Micah Abbey), Raph (Brady Noon) and Mikey (Shamon Brown Jr.) are desperate to experience life above the sewers but their adoptive father Splinter (Jackie Chan) forbids contact with humans and their world after his terrible experiences in the past.  A chance encounter with high school reporter April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) gives the Turtles an idea to help April take down the mysterious Super Fly (Ice Cube), who is pulling off heists of high-tech equipment for unknown reasons.  April gets a story that will help her become a legitimate reporter (and erase everyone’s memory of an embarrassing incident) while the Turtles can look like heroes and gain acceptance from the human world.  The plot is fun and it moves with a ton of energy and humor from the main quartet of voice actors, who are all actually teenagers.  It’s a fresh take on the Turtles but it still retains the characteristics that have made them beloved for over three decades.  Donatello still does machines but he’s also a huge anime and BTS fan while Mikey wants to become an improv comedian.  Super Fly, who is actually a fellow mutant, also presents an interesting conflict to the Turtles, as they have seemingly found a group that will accept them wholeheartedly but at the expense of a threat to humanity.  Mutant Mayhem definitely captures more of what people love about the Turtles compared to recent iterations, especially the Michael Bay-produced live-action movies, and treading new ground with where the Turtles are age-wise and also with the villains.

As mentioned, the main quartet of voice actors who voice the Turtles are excellent and make them lovable, hilarious, and relatable as fully fleshed-out characters with their own goals, interests, and ideas while keeping the core identities we’ve known since the 80s intact.  Ice Cube is an excellent villain as Super Fly and seems to be having a blast whether he’s welcoming the Turtles into his gang of mutants or gleefully destroying the city later on.  Paul Rudd is also a major stand-out as Mondo Gecko, who instantly vibes with Mikey and seems to be Paul Rudd channeling Pauly Shore.  Ayo Edebiri is great as April, a completely different take on the character but one that offers a bunch of great jokes and biting truth bombs.  The rest of the cast is stacked with great talent and everyone has at least one great joke or bit throughout the movie.

Mutant Mayhem looks fantastic, somewhat cribbing the style of Spider-Verse and director Jeff Rowe’s The Mitchells vs The Machines while bringing its own unique, sketchpad style to the proceedings.  The animation is incredible and there are some excellent sequences, like a montage where the Turtles try to gather information from various criminal groups and each Turtle takes the lead as they burst through the door, with everything intercutting between each segment.  The look of the Turtles is classic but fresh and all the various mutant allies and enemies are extremely unique but still recognizable to Turtles fans and it’s great to see characters like Ray Filet, Leatherhead, and Wingnut on the big screen for the first time ever.

While not quite as revolutionary and genre-pushing as the Spider-Verse franchise, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem is still an absolute blast for Turtles fans, with tons of humor, heart, and fantastic action.  It’s a fresh and unique spin on the characters but it still retains the qualities that fans love about TMNT and its well worth heading out now and seeing it in theaters.

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