Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review

Reviews Films


Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Films presents their most radical movie this year –  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Spanning multiple generations of turtles-fans, this latest franchise revival of the heroes in a half-shell is hoping to entertain fans both new and old.    

Four brothers – Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael all dream of stepping out of the safe confines of their sewer home and into the bustling streets of NYC, in hopes of a normal life amongst humans. After befriending a new ally, April O’Neil, the boys set out to take down a local crime syndicate led by the mysterious Superfly. This treacherous new challenge will test both their mental and physical strength, forcing them to use everything their father Master Splinter has taught them in order to protect their new home. 

Like many young boys in the 90’s I was a massive turtles fan. I watched all the shows and movies, had all the action figures and read all the comics. I recently was lucky enough to meet the co-creator of TMNT himself, Kevin Eastman, at a local convention here in Perth, Western Australia. I had been eagerly anticipating this film’s release since I saw the film’s producer – Seth Rogen (The Super Mario Bros. Movie) – tweet the title back in August last year. After more news was revealed of which characters would be appearing in the film and who would be voicing them, I was even more hyped.    

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is clearly made with a lot of love for the franchise and expertly captures the magic of what makes these NYC crime fighters work so well. Co-Writer/Director Jeff Rowe (The Mitchells vs. the Machines), along with the writing team of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit, all pour their love into every scene. The stellar voice cast from the massive roster of characters are all in top form, though it does get a little bloated at times. TMNT: Mutant Mayhem isn’t perfect by any means, but rest assured the whole family will get a kick out of watching it. 

The film takes a lot of inspiration from recent animated films of the past few years, including Sony’s Spider-Verse franchise and Dreamworks’ Puss In Boots: The Last Wish. Though it does do enough differently to feel unique, I did find myself feeling that it comes across as a bit of a knock-off at times, hoping to capture some of the popularity those films have gained. The animation style is probably the most obvious example of this. The “scratchy” 3D/2D hybrid art style has proven to be polarising, with audiences either loving or hating it. I feel it works more so in the Spider-verse films than it does here. The “mutant” characters work with the asymmetrical and hyper-stylised design, but the human characters come across as quite disturbing and deformed. It will definitely be up to each audience member whether or not the art direction works for them.

Thankfully though, the voice cast is incredible! The stars of the show, and rightly so, are the four turtles – Mikey (Shamon Brown Jr.), Donny (Micah Abbey), Leo (Nicolas Cantu), and Raph (Brady Noon). The kids are so enthralling to watch interact with one another and genuinely come across as brothers. Their immature humour and sense of fun make them so endearing. Jackie Chan also needs a shoutout as the boys’ adopted father – Master Splinter. He received the biggest laughs out of my audience and it is no secret why. Jackie Chan’s comedic timing is spot on every time he gets the spotlight. I’m not sure how much of the dialogue is improvised or written, but the family does such a phenomenal job in their interactions that it doesn’t feel scripted.  

Though no one misses the mark when it comes to voice acting, the major issue with such a large roster of characters is that so many didn’t have time to be fully fleshed out. This wasn’t so much an issue with minor TMNT villains (such as Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd)), but A-list foes like Bebop (Seth Rogen) and Rocksteady (John Cena) seemed completely wasted. Thankfully the 40-plus years of TMNT media to pull from means there’s plenty of villains left to include in what I hope is a multi-film franchise, but it seems a waste to have burnt through so many right out of the gate. 

The story, though a little basic, does its job and moves along at a fine enough pace, however the lack of distinction between acts felt to me like the movie was never ramping up to anything. The 100-minute runtime plods along and then the film sort of just… ends. Perhaps Spider-verse has skewed my expectations too far, but I never felt a sense of epicness going into the final TMNT showdown. With what was teased in the film’s mid-credits scene, I’m hoping this latest iteration has bigger plans for its potential sequels – and I’ll be there day one to check them out.

With an impressive total of seven movies spanning across 30 years, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is easily the best and most authentic entry to date. Everyone involved is clearly a big kid at heart and it shows in every scene. This film is excellent for all ages, but if you have a turtles mega-fan in your family, you need to rush out and see this.

Rating 7/10