16th Nov2023

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ Blu-ray Review

by Matthew Turner

Features the voices of: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Hannibal Buress, Rose Byrne, Nicolas Cantu, John Cena, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Natasia Demetriou, Ayo Edebiri, Giancarlo Esposito, Post Malone, Brady Noon, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph | Written by Evan Goldberg, Jeff Rowe, Seth Rogen, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit | Directed by Jeff Rowe

Producer and co-writer Seth Rogen is one of the many talents behind this thrilling reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. Directed by Jeff Rowe (the animation genius behind The Mitchells Versus The Machines) and pulsing with energy and originality, it’s an absolute treat for newcomers and die-hard Turtle fans alike.

After quickly whizzing through the Turtles’ origin story (four baby turtles are mutated by some green ooze in the New York sewers and are adopted by a similarly mutated rat who turns them into ninja fighters), the story focuses on the now teenage turtles – Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo (voiced by actual teenagers Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown, Brady Noon and Nicolas Cantu) – as they battle mutant monster Superfly (Ice Cube), who has a plan to kill all humans and fill the world with mutants.

The turtles are aided in their quest by their rat father / martial arts master Splinter (Jackie Chan) and by high school teenager and wannabe journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri), who hopes to turn the turtles into heroes by reporting on their battle. Meanwhile, Superfly also has a crew of mutated monsters (hence the title) voiced by a veritable roll call of comic talent that includes Hannibal Buress (as Genghis Frog), Rose Byrne (Leatherhead), John Cena (Rocksteady), Natasia Demetriou (Wingnut), rapper Post Malone (Ray Fillet), Seth Rogen (Bebop) and a scene-stealing Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko.

The animation style is nothing short of extraordinary. It feels like 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse functioned as a challenge to mainstream animators to up their game, and filmmakers have responded in kind, at least judging by the recent likes of The Mitchells Versus The Machines (2021), Netflix’s Entergalactic (2022) and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish (also 2022). Accordingly, the Turtles movie pushes the envelope still further, with stunningly beautiful visuals that practically hum with street art vibrancy, a mixture of felt tip pen scribbles, comic book doodling and spray paint graffiti gone wild.

Rowe’s direction is particularly impressive during the fight scenes, which are thrilling to watch, thanks to both the fast-paced choreography and the editing. One stand-out sequence serves as a montage, with the four turtles continually morphing into each other across a variety of fights in different locations, moving left to right, e.g. Donatello whacking someone with a stick in a garage becomes Michelangelo hitting someone with nunchucks in a kitchen and so on.

The fast-paced script – co-written by Rowe and Rogen with regular writing partner Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit (the latter two wrote Pokémon: Detective Pikachu) – is packed with great gags, with each of the supporting characters getting their chance to shine. There’s also a solid and rather touching message about acceptance and tolerance, since all the turtles want in life is to be able to attend high school in the human world, like real teenagers.

If there’s a problem, it’s only that the script deliberately makes the turtles seem closer in personality than in their previous outings – they are essentially all as silly and excitable as each other, traits that were usually reserved for Michelangelo alone. That makes them slightly harder to distinguish than in the other movies, though it does make their constant bickering that much more entertaining.

The rapid-fire pace means that there are plenty of background details and gags that zip past in the blink of an eye, meaning that the film is certain to reward repeat viewings. In addition, there are a number of delightfully surreal moments, the funniest of which involves horses being used in unexpected ways, and gives Ice Cube the best line in the film.

In short, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is an absolute joy from start to finish, thanks to breathtakingly beautiful, thrillingly original animation (the shots of New York are worth the price of admission alone), a frequently funny script and a madcap sense of invention that means you never quite know what’s coming next. It also has a great soundtrack, the ooze-coloured icing on top of an already delicious cake.

Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Meet the Teens behind TMNT
  • The Mutant Uprising
  • New York, New York: The Visual World of MUTANT MAYHEM
  • Learn To Draw Leo

**** 4/5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is released on DVD, lu-ray and 4K UHD on November 20th, courtesy of Paramount HOme Entertainment.


Comments are closed.