Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem Review: What's not to love?

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 05, 2023 | 08:01

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem Review: What's not to love?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem bursts onto the big screen like a pizza delivery on a Saturday night – a whole lot of cheese and utterly satisfying. This animated reboot, directed by Jeff Rowe and sprinkled with Seth Rogen's magic, takes us through the well-trodden turf of the Turtles' origin story, with enough toppings to make it a delightful cinematic feast.


This animated feature offers a fresh perspective on the origin story of the titular reptilian quadruple, and while it occasionally falls into familiar territory, it excels in many more, making it a gorgeous addition to Ninja Turtle canon.

We start with the obligatory recap of the Turtles' origin. There's a nefarious corporation involved in genetic testing, a renegade scientist who absconds with the all-important "ooze," and the inevitable spillage of said ooze into the sewers, where it encounters four adorable baby turtles. 

Fast forward to the teenage years of our heroes: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. They're raised by their adoptive father, Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan), who's the poster rat for worrisome adoptive fathers everywhere. He keeps them tucked away in a New York City sewer, teaching them home-video self-defense and urging them to steer clear of the evils of the human world. 

But what's a teenage mutant ninja turtle to do when all they want is to be embraced by humankind? They sneak into outdoor Ferris Bueller screenings, daydream about high school, and generally, stick their reptilian noses where they shouldn't.


The Turtles' underground existence is upended when they cross paths with April O'Neil, a high-schooler voiced by Ayo Edebiri. Inadvertently distracting April while chasing a thief who stole her moped, they find themselves embroiled in a lair filled with criminals. 

Soon they also realize they could be the city's superheroes and maybe even stop a supervillain with plans for a bioweapon. (Isn't it always a supervillain with a diabolical plan?)

What sets Mutant Mayhem apart from its predecessors however, is the sheer charm exuded by the Turtles themselves. Their characterization as boisterous, cartoonish teenage boys is a breath of fresh air. 

While some TMNT stories tend to emphasize conflicts and rifts between the brothers, this film portrays them as an inseparable, united front. The camaraderie between them is palpable, and their conversations, often overlapping and laden with pop-culture references, deliver genuine and contagious joy. 

The film's comedic edge rarely disappoints, with references ranging from Adele to Endgame to Godzilla. It's not just the references themselves but how the Turtles relate to them that forms the comedic backbone, showcasing the exceptional voice work by Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon. Their voices collectively contribute to one of the most endearing portrayals of the Turtles in the franchise's history.


Beyond its rip-roaring humor, Mutant Mayhem makes the most of its animated format. It adopts a visually striking style reminiscent of the Spider-Verse and the world of Mitchells vs The Machines. This choice elevates the film to a visual spectacle, pushing the boundaries of what animation can achieve. The meticulously crafted world immerses the audience in a vibrant and dynamic New York City. The sketchbook-style animation is crisp, dynamic, and entirely captivating. 

While the narrative may follow a somewhat predictable trajectory, it's the animation style that sets Mutant Mayhem apart. Instead of adhering to the polished 3D realism typically found in big-budget animated films, it boldly embraces a gritty, glitchy, and graffiti-inspired aesthetic.

The action sequences, in particular, exhibit an exhilarating energy, topped off with yet another tremendous score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and their blend of hard-hitting hip-hop and electronica complementing the Turtles' quirky personalities.

While Mutant Mayhem takes a bit longer than necessary to establish its world and characters, it truly finds its footing in the third act. The world-building and character introduction phase seems to drag a bit longer than necessary. But once it finds its stride, there's no stopping this pizza party. The film's inventive and playful animation, driven by Rowe and Rogen’s desire to capture the passion and intensity of these beloved teenagers, keeps us hooked.

The story, while not groundbreaking, is well-crafted. It sets up the Turtles as relatable teenagers, longing for acceptance in a world that sees them as outsiders. The choice of Ice-Cube’s Superfly as the antagonist allows the film to touch on themes of social isolation and the healthy ways young boys can address their masculinity. 

An unexpected bonus in Mutant Mayhem is its evident love for anime. Donatello's character shines as an anime nerd, with nods to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Attack on Titan that had fellow otakus squealing in their seats.

In the grand pizza party of animated cinema, the turtles arrive with a rebellious spirit and a graffiti-splattered charm. While it may tread familiar sewer waters in terms of its narrative, this TMNT reboot masterfully channels the Spider-Verse ethos, giving us a visual frenzy that's a delicious mess of anarchic animation.

Like a slice of pizza with a bit of extra cheese and a dash of nostalgia, it satisfies the cravings of old and new fans alike. With its infectious energy, jostling voice performances, and a hip-hop soundtrack that's a blast from the past, this film is a delightful addition to the ever-evolving Turtleverse.

We’re going with 4 out of 5 stars for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Last updated: September 05, 2023 | 08:01
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