We are back to Hollywood remakes, take 3. Back with yet another attempt to retell the TMNT story, Seth Rogan leads an all-star cast to tell the story of a group of teenage mutant turtles who are ninjas. And I am here to tell you, they nailed it.
After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers. Their new friend, April O’Neil, helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.
So of course the netelgia factor for anyone over the age of 30 is huge in this film. Whether it’s iconic villains, our leading turtles, the pizza truck, or the frequent Nickelodeon references throughout, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem never fails to hit you right in the childhood. Even the musical elements during various parts of the film bring back iconic melodies from some of the original games.
Let’s talk animation style, this isn’t the first attempt at TMNT. Director Jeff Rowe decided to take some pointers from another film he did (“The Mitchells vs. the Machines”) and take the semi-hand-drawn style and ramp it up giving the film a sketched street-artist vibe. And the vibe fits perfectly for our imperfect heroes. The previously attempted live-action film of 2007 left a lot to be desired both in its style and casting.
Animated films are making huge strides in recent years. The recent success of the second film of three with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse has brought a bright light on animation and animated features. It started with the first film in 2018, and the sequel made our very short list of 5/5 rated films for 2023. Mutant Mayhem doesn’t overtake Spider-Verse (for me) but it was a spectacular second and yet another feather in the cap of the animated film industry. The writers and producers even took the time to make some anime references in the film, further illustrating the influence and importance of animation on Hollywood. Ultimately Mutant Mayhem comes across as distinct and fresh for a classic franchise.
Our title heroes in the film are actually teenagers, as far as those voicing them and the character’s themselves in the story. Imagine that novel idea! And the lingo, jokes, and behavior are done in a clever and fun way that is fitting for a group of 15-year-olds, and at times leaves the older audience seeking that childhood fix either laughing or pretending because they want to be cool (if you are in your 30s and have kids, you are certainly feeling the hits close to home).
The story itself is simple but effective. The focus is heavy on family and acceptance, which for a first outing in what looks to be a potential franchise of films, is a great way to introduce the world to this generation of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. And like any good film which is wanting audiences to ask for more, this film has a post-credit scene that you will be begging for at the end of the film and they deliver. Needless to say, I am ready for the sequel.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a fun, heartwarming, visually unique film that left me craving the days I used to play with the TMNT figures and remind me who my favorite turtle was. It works for families with kids and for those of us adults who simply want a worthy trip down memory lane.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem hits theaters on August 2nd.