Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review: Mutant Mileage May Vary

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review explores this new take on the Heroes in a Half-Shell

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had more reboots and refreshes than we can count. This time around, the Heroes in a Half Shell have made a comeback, thanks to the likes of Jeff Rowe, Kyle Spears, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg to name a few filmmakers involved with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Employing a wild new animation style to follow Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello, this latest iteration blends the old with the new to introduce a fresh generation to our sewer-dwelling heroes.

In this upcoming movie from Paramount Animation, the creators have decided not to go with the villainous Shredder this time around, but instead, they focus on a gaggle of mutants that are threatening New York City. With a crime wave being perpetrated by the mysterious Super Fly, a character whose name is quite on the nose when all is revealed, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles struggle with being shunned by society while aiming to become superheroes to gain acceptance. A cavalcade of stars has hopped aboard this project to give Mutant Mayhem quite a lot to chew on as the fate of the Big Apple hangs in the balance, and the mutant teens search for the acceptance they've been longing for.

The animation used for this new take on the Turtles is unlike anything that you might have seen before, which can be either a good or bad thing, depending on the viewer's tastes. While sitting in the movie theater, the best way I could describe it is a blending of stop-motion animation films, such as Studio Laika's Coraline or even Phil Tippet's Mad God, accompanied by colors and aesthetics that might rival the Spider-Verse films, at times. This acts as something of a mixed bag during the film's run time, as the Turtles and their mutant cohorts look outstanding, though humans can often look more monstrous than creatures bathed in the "ooze." Fortunately, the action set-pieces of the film, and the directorial tricks used in conveying the beatdowns, work quite well here. 

Luckily, one of the brightest parts of the film is also one of its most prominent, as these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themselves have a chemistry that is absolutely infectious on the screen. Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Micah Abbey, and Shannon Brown Jr. as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michaelangelo knock it out of the park with their line delivery and how they are able to bounce quips off one another in rapid succession. These feel like brothers in an unruly family in the best possible way. The decision to make these Heroes in a Half-Shell on the younger side of their teenage years adds an adorable quality to their adventures as they attempt to navigate through a society that hates and fears them. Each turtle has their own unique personality and aesthetic that are able to sell this new iteration. 

Unfortunately, there might be one mutant too many in this expansive roster. Super Fly's cronies seem like window-dressing instead of characters that have their moments to shine. Certainly, Ice Cube's main antagonist and the likes of Paul Rudd's Mondo Gecko and Natasia Demetriou's Wingnut get some choice dialogue throughout, but Post Malone's Ray Fillet, Seth Rogen's Bebop, John Cena's Rocksteady, and Rose Byrne's Leatherhead simply don't have much to do here aside from act as a nod to longtime Turtle fans. There are also some characters, such as Maya Rudolph's Cynthia Utrom, who appear far more as sequel bait than having much relevance in the story itself.

The movie's humor can be hit or miss, such as having a "milking" joke that is brought up dozens of times during the film's run time. Mutant Mayhem is a product of its time, making references and nods to recent pop culture tidbits that might seem out of place even a year into the future. This feels like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that was specifically made for "Gen Z," which again, has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The soundtrack has some choice picks, but can sometimes be a tad too overwhelming and might not fit in as well as more unique tracks might have. 

Surprisingly enough, I found myself rather excited about what the future holds for this new take on the Turtles. The ending provides a status quo that has never been explored in any other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle story we've seen and, considering that this new take on the four siblings has already been confirmed for both a sequel and a television series, it's nice to know this will be explored. Of course, there is some worthy fan service in a post-credit scene, so stick around during the credits. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has its problems and it's certainly not within striking distance of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. However, it does justify this new take on the Turtles while also giving old and new fans quite a bit to enjoy should they venture to theaters to take in this animated enterprise. These new Turtles are able to earn their existence and I'm looking forward to this new take on the sewer-centric universe. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

(Photo: Paramount)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in theaters on August 2nd.