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‘Mutant Mayhem’ makes waves in the TMNT franchise

Before we delve into this new movie, I’d like to preface this article by stating that I stand with the Writers Guild of America strike! Writers are the reason why movies such as this one are filled with life, love, and wonder! And they, in conjunction with the animators, voice actors and everyone else behind the scenes, did another wonderful job with this film!

Furthermore, while I won’t be diving too deeply into the plot, there are a few spoilers in my review. You’ve been warned!

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” hit US theatres on Aug. 2, and I had eagerly been waiting for the movie to release since May. I was saying the lines “Can I kick it? Yes you can!” on repeat, looking for updates on movie theater exclusive merch, and simply saying “I’m so excited for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!” several times up until its release. This movie promised a high action and enjoyable film for everyone as they solidified a new version of the familiar heroes from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise. 

The film follows Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), and Raphael (Brady Noon) as they try to become heroes in the eyes of the public by taking down a supervillain known as Superfly (Ice Cube), with the hopes of ultimately being able to attend highschool as “normal” teenagers. Going behind their father, Splinter’s (Jackie Chan), back, they team up with a human named April (Ayo Edebiri), and together the five try to solidify their names in highschool history. Alongside these names, characters such as Bebop (Seth Rogen), Rocksteady (John Cena) and Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd) make a reappearance, with distinct personalities that alsomake them shine. A story about relationships and what it means to be happy, this movie added a new spin to the TMNT universe.

Having watched the film twice at the time of writing this, I can confidently say that I enjoyed this new version of the turtles’ stories! This is the first iteration of the TMNT franchise where the turtles were voiced by teenagers rather than adults, and instead of having the cast follow a strict script, the script was formed around the voice actors improvising. This choice ultimately led to hilarious adlibs, relaxed and flowing dialogue, and just a casual fun atmosphere in the movie theaters. By having the actors shape the script, I ultimately think that the movie added a new tone to the already pretty goofy franchise. The characters are relatable, and actually act and sound like modern day teenagers. That coupled with fight scenes full of action and flowing animation made the whole experience shine. It is an action-packed, hilarious film, with realistic and entertaining dialogue and characters.

My main critique comes from the way that the four turtles share the spotlight. Though they all had their own interests, and those interests played a distinct role in how the characters interacted with one another, it felt like there was a very clear distinction between Leo and the rest of his brothers. Now, Leo has always had the issue of being the overbearing rule follower (oldest sibling and people pleasing make for a dangerous combination). However, in this iteration, it felt like the other three siblings sort of blended together, in the face of Leo’s rule-following nature. Out of the four, Leo is the only one concerned about getting in trouble with Splinter, the only one who tries to take responsibility for April’s bike getting stolen, and the only one who feels the need to stop Superfly from destroying New York. Leo’s choices (which most of the time is simply Leo being responsible and taking accountability for his choices) and the distinction made between him and his brothers made it seem like Leo was the heroic “main character” as opposed to all four of them sharing that role.

Aside from that, there were a couple moments that fell through for me, that may have been made in mind for younger audiences. A rather long puking scene with April, and a kissing scene that was kind of just gross, but again, it is a kids’ movie, so maybe kids will find those scenes funny.

Ultimately, I love this movie, the story that they told, and the shift being made to include children and teen voices and guidance in a movie starring them. And with a movie sequel and series already being confirmed for the future, I can’t wait to see what more this new version has to offer!

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