Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem follows an all-new version of the turtle team, who live in the sewers under the watchful eye of Splinter (Jackie Chan) but yearn for a life on the surface and acceptance from humanity. A chance encounter with wannabe journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) gives them their first glimmers of hope, and they devise a plan to take down crime boss Superfly (Ice Cube) and earn the adoration of the surface world. However, this is easier said than done, and the turtles soon find themselves in a Party Wagon full of trouble.
This iteration of the TMNT, written and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, leans heavily into the “teenage” part of the title, borrowing from coming-of-age stories and exploring feelings of isolation that often come with growing up. The turtles are written very authentically in this regard, goofing off, teasing each other and rattling off pop culture references – thankfully, the film is careful to ensure it’s more endearing than annoying.
The plot is the least interesting part of the flick, being a standard simplistic racism allegory. While it’s perhaps a little clichéd, it works well enough here, and the film does so much fantastically that it’s easy to forgive the script for playing things a little safe. It’s one of the best versions of this particular story, bolstered by excellent character work, tight theming and strong comedic chops.
Where Mutant Mayhem excels, is its phenomenal visuals and sound design. Its distinctive and dynamic aesthetic borrows from recent pieces like the Spider-Verse films and The Mitchells vs The Machines while mutating the conventions set by those movies, combining a hand-drawn rendering style with CGI that channels stop-motion animation, creating a uniquely tactile and consistently eye-catching visual landscape. The fights are total eye candy, with cinematography blending action and slapstick in ways that call to mind classic martial arts cinema.
The soundtrack, with original compositions by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, punches up the action and enhances the flow of the feature perfectly while throwing in some choice audio gags.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a fantastic cinematic experience, blending gorgeous visuals with funny, emotive writing and heaps of soul and passion. While the story itself might leave something to be desired, the journey the film takes its audience on is so much fun that it’s easy to get swept up in the mutant mayhem and forget about problems with its script.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is released nationwide on 31st July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem here: