Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review – The BEST TMNT Yet

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I grew up collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures and religiously watching the original animated series. Like most 90’s kids, those four heroes in a half-shell played a significant role in my adolescent years. To say that I was ecstatic when I heard a new adaptation was in the works would be putting it mildly. Having been burned by the Michael Bay produced live action duo of films, I was eager for a fresh take on my favorite team of turtles. And believe me when I say that the team does not disappoint, delivering their greatest cinematic adventure to date with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

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Mutant Mayhem Plot

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Mutant Mayhem
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Mutant Mayhem acts as an origin of sorts, showing audiences the birth of the TMNT as the crime fighting protectors of New York City. The brothers and their adoptive father, the ninjutsu educated mutant rat known as Master Splinter, live a life of secluded solitude. Dwelling in the sewers below the city, the mutants avoid humans at all costs, fearing them and the danger they may pose. But when a new batch of Mutants arise with a diabolical plan to destroy the world and all of its human inhabitants, the turtles must take a stand to save humanity.

Also Read: TMNT (1990) Revisited: Why the Original Classic Still Holds Up

The Critique

Hearing that Seth Rogen would be behind the newest adaptation of the Ninja Turtles instilled many fans with a level of fear and hesitation. To much of the public he’s known as nothing more than the husky comedian with an affinity for weed and an obnoxious laugh. However, Rogen’s involvement filled me with confidence. This is a man who loves comics and possesses a creative vision unlike any other. He’s brought us Prime Video’s wildly popular The Boys, and the incredibly unique and entertaining Preacher. While both of those series are far more graphic and adult oriented than this, they possess a juvenile sensibility necessary for a TMNT film.

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April O'Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Mutant Mayhem
April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

What makes Mutant Mayhem so successful is its wide appeal, able to capture the attention and imagination of young children and adults equally. The jokes are funny, the animation is gorgeous and the action is epic. My theater was filled with thunderous laughter and applause on more than one occasion, and while I typically prefer a silent theater going experience, seeing the joy that this film brought to new and old generations was special.

Raphael was always my favorite. He’s cool, but rude and his aggressive, no backing down stance towards combat with his enemies was something that stood out to me as a child. In previous adaptations, even in the 1990 original, the turtles were depicted to be closer to adulthood in their appearance, behavior and voices. Mutant Mayhem takes the “teenage” part of the title to heart, giving us a team that is undoubtedly youthful. Equally youthful is April O’Neil. Typically portrayed as an adult reporter, she’s aged down here, acting as a school journalist for the high schools she attends.

One iconic character notably missing is Shredder, the deranged, razor clad villain with a hatred of mutants and an unexplainable craving for turtle-soup. Despite my love for the antagonist, I think his absence was a smart choice. Shredder is a larger-than-life character that often commands the screen. By not including him, audiences are able to focus on the heroes, their journey and their growth. Much like Christopher Nolan left The Joker out of Batman Begins.

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In Conclusion

There has been a recent resurgence of the Ninja Turtles. The recently released The Last Ronin comic has been a major success, prompting an upcoming video game adaptation. And there is no doubt that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will bring the turtles even further to the forefront of pop culture once again. 2023 is a fantastic year for animation with Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem each climbing to the top of the “Best of the Year Lists” for me.

9/10

 

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Articles Published: 242

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film & TV Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the podcast, The Movie Divide.