The Turtleverse: A Vibrant and Hilarious Adventure in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
The Spider-Verse movies have left a lasting impact on the world of superheroes, and now that influence extends to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their latest cinematic outing, Mutant Mayhem. This animated film takes a punkier, ground-level approach and showcases a vibrant and hilarious adventure that sets the stage for the Turtles to build a Turtleverse of their own.
A Streamlined Introduction to the Turtles
Mutant Mayhem takes the iconic elements of Turtle lore and focuses on their relationship with Splinter, their adoptive father. The movie explores their desire to be part of the surface world despite their father’s prejudice against humans. The Turtles’ talkative banter, infused with a dark streak, offers quotable lines and laughs for audiences of all ages.
A Modern Twist on Superheroes
Mutant Mayhem embraces the context of the masks-and-capes landscape, with the Turtles wanting to be seen and appreciated like other superheroes. Their awareness of the MCU and their desire for public approval lead to tension between their expectations and the world’s expectations of them. This aspect of the film showcases a more mature storytelling approach.
An Endearing Splinter and the Family Dynamic
Jackie Chan brings warmth and single-dad energy to his portrayal of Splinter. The movie explores the origin of the Turtles and their mutation but focuses more on the moments of connection and growth within the sewer-dwelling family. Splinter’s distrust of humans creates conflict as the Turtles yearn for acceptance in the world above.
Unity Among the Turtles
While each Turtle has a distinct personality, Mutant Mayhem emphasizes their unity as a group rather than delving deeply into their individual struggles. Leonardo’s journey as the team leader receives some focus, but the story doesn’t closely track the reasons behind his identification with this role. The movie avoids cartoonish characterizations, ensuring that each Turtle feels unique.
A Perfectly Suited Art Style and Engaging Action
Mutant Mayhem’s art style perfectly matches the energetic story, with its bespoke characters interacting in a realistic New York setting. The animation showcases the Turtles’ difference from society while subtly exploring themes of prejudice and tolerance. The action sequences are a visual spectacle, with the Turtles skillfully using their weapons. The film’s musical score, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, adds to the overall excitement and emotion.
Character Design and a Predictable Plot
The mutant henchanimals, led by Superfly (voiced by Ice Cube), stand out as the best-designed characters in the movie. These mutants, along with the voices of actors like John Cena, Paul Rudd, Rose Byrne, and Hannibal Buress, bring charm and enthusiasm to their roles. However, the plot may feel predictable and familiar, borrowing elements from other superhero films. The movie’s focus on Everyday, Normal New Yorkers being the true heroes loses its impact as the Turtles’ emotional journey takes center stage.
An Intrepid Ally and Memorable Voice Performances
April O’Neil, the intrepid reporter, becomes an ally to the Turtles in their adventures. Ayo Edebiri’s performance as April brings a self-effacing charm that keeps the Turtles grounded in reality, even as they embark on heroic missions.