Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
IMDb (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8589698/) and Paramount Pictures

Photo credits: IMDb (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8589698/) and Paramount Pictures

Lately, films have been experimenting with what the medium of animation can accomplish. While the Spider-Verse films have been considered the gold standard for this, it does not mean other projects have not been trying. From “Mitchells vs. the Machines” (2021) to “The Bad Guys” (2022) to “Puss and Boots: The Last Wish” (2022) and now “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” (2023) —the latest feature to experiment with this new style.

“Mutant Mayhem” follows… well… the ninja turtles as they take on a crime syndicate so they can be accepted as normal teenagers by society. Many have considered this to be the best TMNT movie. But while I have never seen any of the previous iterations of the turtles, I still found this to be an incredibly fun ride.

Using what he has learned as a writer on “Gravity Falls” (2012-2016) and “Disenchantment” (2018-2023), as well as co-director of “Mitchells vs. the Machines,” Jeff Rowe brings his A-game as director and co-writer. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg also join as co-writers and producers.

While the animation is taking cues from the Spider-Verse films, there are distinct differences in where those cues go, making it stand on its own. In fact, I would even go so far as to argue that “Mutant Mayhem” has an identity separate from both Spider-Verse and previous TMNT ventures, but in the best way possible. The same can be said about Trent Rezenor and Atticus Ross’ score. They were possibly inspired by Daniel Pemberton’s work (from Spider-Verse) and chose to put their own spin on it.

The voice cast is full of veterans like Jackie Chan, John Cena and the previously mentioned Seth Rogen. Although [these actors] are all fun, Ice Cube stole the show as Superfly, perfectly balancing charisma and terror. However, I want to concentrate on who plays the turtles. Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu and Brady Noon each play Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael respectively. While other iterations of the turtles are voiced by adults, the actors above are all teenagers. This creates a much more honest characterization, both in terms of acting and personalities. Each quirk feels authentic to adolescents today. Every turtle feels and acts like a real teen, not a stereotypical teen.

When taking a look at the writing, many of the film’s flaws come into fruition. The story itself is not breaking boundaries and is somewhat predictable at times, especially in the ending. Some jokes can be hit or miss, but the many twists and turns kept me consistently engaged throughout its runtime. Nevertheless, the solid screenplay does indeed hold its own.

Overall, “Mutant Mayhem” is in some ways the younger brother to the Spider-Verse: it tries to pull off what its older brother did and it sure does succeed in multiple areas (animation, visual effects, score, characters, etc.), but it has much more work to do in order to surpass the highs of its older brother (particularly with the screenplay). With that said, I loved watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” and I’m excited to see where this version of the pizza-loving-turtles goes next.

My Rating: 8/10 

PS: Studios, please pay your writers and actors! They are the reason why quality projects like this are possible.

Billy Wikol is a second-year English major. WW993420@wcupa.edu

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