Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is the latest relaunch of the popular comic book series that’s spawned a huge following across multiple medias. After a couple live action films produced by Michael Bay, the turtles are back in action in a similar style that we’ve seen with the Spiderverse movies. Capitalizing on the overwhelmingly positive response from audiences in terms of comic book art styles being replicated on screen, TMNT Mutant Mayhem is a visual delight that injects some new life into this franchise for new and old audiences alike.
Before their creation at the hands of a mutating ooze, Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micha Abbey), Raphael (Brady Noon), and Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.) were just regular baby turtles down in the New York sewer. As fate should have it, up above on the surface a mad scientist name Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito) is creating a formula that will mutate any animal and insect into a massive and terrifying creature to exact destruction against humanity! Fortunately his plans were foiled, but not before his formula would infect the turtles and an unsuspecting rat by the name of Splinter (Jackie Chan).
Fast forward fifteen years into the future and an aging Splinter has now raised those mutant baby turtles into teenage mutant turtles. In order to ensure their safety when leaving the sewers for the necessities of the world above, Splinter has taught each of his children the way of certain martial arts and has endowed them each with a unique weapon. As they’ve learned their whole life growing up, no human will ever care for them and there’s nothing good that lies above the sewer. Obviously, this is probably the last thing you want to hear as an angsty teen who wants to be out exploring the world.
Mutant Mayhem succeeds on a number of fronts a pseudo coming-of-age tale that puts a great amount of emphasis on feeling like you belong and wanting to be accepted for who you are. Obviously, this seems nearly impossible for four teen mutant turtles who spend their extra moments on the surface trying to take in movies and enjoy life like everyone else their age. When they meet their human friend April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri), they find commonality in being outsiders and devise a plan to catch an evil villain and to become heroes for the people!
Balancing modern Gen-Z references for the kids and the millennial pop-culture references for the adults, producer and writer Seth Rogen has really found a sweet spot for these Turtles to thrive in. The art direction is captivating and tons of fun to marvel at, all while you’re enjoying mutant mayhem (quite literally) and new take on the Turtle’s origins. There’s less of a Ninja focus this time around, grounding the characters in modern day times and providing their skills as a necessity for protection. There’s no Shredder here, but he’s a character who isn’t missed as the film tells a great story of genetic mutation and discovering the hero within. At only aa little over 90 minutes, TMNT Mutant Mayhem blows by like lovely summer breeze and leaves you eager for more to come!
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