“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” Review

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“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” Rating: 3/5

Another TMNT reboot is upon us. How will this one turn out? For me, it was a mixed bag.

We find the turtle brothers in their younger years, getting antsy with the underground sewer life. They yearn for a normal life and want to be accepted by humans. But once they find a group of mutants intent on eradicating mankind, the turtles must emerge and stop them to win New York’s heart.

Positives

As a kid, I frequently had the TMNT movies on repeat. They are undoubtedly fun to the right audience. I happened to be in that audience in my younger years. There have been varying interpretations of the turtles, with each generation having one they relate to best.

“Mutant Mayhem” will likely be a huge hit among the younger generations as the colors pop off the screen. They are bright, unique and full of life. While I have my qualms with the animation style itself, I’ll always commend a fresh set of ideas. But the animation isn’t the only aspect that’s new.

We find the turtles portrayed in a new light, being younger and more naive than previous versions. I enjoyed seeing them behave like teenagers where they’re still figuring out who they are and what their purpose is. They contemplate ideas of acceptance, meaning and a moral compass. What I love about these characters is their unique features. Each of them has a distinct personality, bringing a specific element to the team. While this isn’t highlighted as much in the film, I expect it to follow in future movies.

The film’s standout was Jackie Chan’s portrayal of Splinter. He was hilarious and added a unique charm to the character that felt less serious than the previous versions. This was a change I welcomed (although I do enjoy serious Splinter, too).

Another aspect that intrigues me is the world building. The film sets up a TV show and future movies, so there are many possibilities to explore in the TMNT lore. Looking forward to what comes next!

Negatives

I’ll be honest, this isn’t my favorite iteration of the turtles. I recognize my version of the turtles is long gone and this is geared for younger viewers.

The main problem with “Mutant Mayhem” is the overstuffed nature of the story. For a film intending to be the first of a rebooted franchise, there are way too many characters introduced. Unless you’re a fan of the comics, they can blend together and get lost in the crowd.

I wish the writers would have reintroduced the turtles on a more intimate level and waited to add all the villains. As I mentioned before, I’ve always enjoyed the unique personalities each of the brothers have. This film doesn’t distinguish them very well. I hope they’re built into the traditional roles so this criticism goes away. The turtles tend to talk over each other…a lot. Yes, I understand that young siblings do this, but it doesn’t always make for an enjoyable experience as a viewer. When they are shouting and yelling at the same time, it’s just annoying. Hopefully they cut the number of instances this happens in the next film.

Seth Rogen is heavily involved in the creation of this movie, too. His sense of low-brow humor oozes (no pun intended) into the story. On this note, there are so many pop culture references that younger audiences might find funny. Older audiences probably won’t enjoy them as much. I didn’t find many of the jokes funny but some at my screening did. Seemed to be half and half.

I also found myself on the opposite side of the fence regarding the animation. Many people seem to be enjoying the edgy, graffiti style. I found it quite ugly, to be honest, especially when it comes to the animated humans. It was actually distracting. Like I say, I always admire unique ideas and the ability to think outside the box. The animation certainly does that. Oddly enough, I found unfinished street style animation to fit the turtles well. As a whole, it didn’t work for me. I’ll compare it to putting pineapple on a pizza. Some will really enjoy the unique approach, while others won’t think the combo works. I’m on the side of live action or maintaining a different animation style. To each their own — many seem to be enjoying it. Just something to consider.

Conclusion

“Mutant Mayhem” is a film that will appeal to the target audience. Kids will love the fun colors and bombastic style of animation. The younger demeanor of the turtles will also provide laughs and relatability.

For classic fans, the leisures taken might be off-putting. Not to mention the evolved style of storytelling and over-crammed set of villains. If I could give this a 2.8/5 I would, but I’ll stick to a decisive rating. There’s fun to be had here, so audience enjoyment may depend on how much slime and mutants are tolerable. In any case, it’s fun to see the turtles again. I hope the sequel makes some improvements though.

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