Seth Rogen, of all people, has taken on the task of bringing the popular turtle mutants back to the screen. The passionate comic fan moves for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM back to the origins of the pop culture icons and, together with two animation film experts, presents a film that is not only aimed at action-loving hardcore fans, but also relies on loving coming-of-age influences.
OT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (USA 2023)
That’s what it’s about
One day, the mutated rat Splinter (originally: Jackie Chan) discovers four turtle children who have mutated due to a mysterious substance. He takes in Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.) and Raphael (Brady Noon) and, shielded from the human world, trains them to become heroic ninjas. But the four of them make their way to the surface of New York and, on one of their secret forays, meet young reporter April O’Neil (Ayo Edibiri), who is on the trail of a mysterious conspiracy. Sensing an exciting story, she and the Turtles go on a search for a group of mutant animals who have big villainous plans for the world…
In 1937, Walt Disney Pictures’ first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, ushered in a new era of entertainment cinema. A completely hand-drawn adventure based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name – this was (almost) completely new to the masses. Up to that point, animated films had something of an experimental nature to them and were an exception, which is why “Snow White” can be seen as the starting signal for animated films in the mainstream. In 1996, it was the animation studio Pixar, which was not yet part of the mouse company, which launched the next technical evolution: “Toy Story”, an animated film created entirely on the computer, for which short films such as “The Little Lamp”, “Tin Toy” and “Knickknack” stood in line. Other trick styles such as stop-motion technology, the more amateur brick films or those that are created using the so-called rotoscoping process (for which live film scenes are then overlaid by an animated, previously traced “layer”) are still more popular today subordinate role in the popcorn cinema. Now one would think that the technical trick possibilities have been exhausted – at least for the time being. And in fact, 3D animated films currently dominate the trick cinema segment. Nevertheless, a trend has emerged in recent years that is helping this segment achieve new dimensions. Simply because from now on there is no longer a clear distinction between cartoons and animated films.
Young reporter April O’Neill (original: Ayo Edibiri) happens to meet the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In 2018, directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman and their animators established a completely new visual style that was actually “only” made up of well-known set pieces. Your “Spider-Man: A New Universe” is subject to a mishmash style – in the best sense of the word – for which two-dimensional cartoon and three-dimensional animation as well as photorealistic backgrounds go hand in hand. Due to Corona, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s “The Mitchells Against the Machines” only appeared on Netflix three years later. The two were previously not only responsible for the “A New Universe” script, but also presented “The LEGO Movie,” a Brick-style animated film made entirely on the computer. For the Mitchells, they went for cartoonish chaos, but without the style’s usual minimalism. Further stylistic experiments followed: watercolor optics meet CGI animation in “Puss in Boots – The Last Wish”, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” pushes the concept of its predecessor even further and in more variety. And now, after Sony and Universal, Paramount Pictures is also getting involved “We don’t commit to one animation style, we just mix and match whatever we’re up for!”-mindset. Their “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”, the ninth film about the four cult lizards (including a spin-off with “Batman” from 2019), is most reminiscent of the “Spider-Man” Visuality. To the filmmakers Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears still seem to go one step further. No wonder: the two already served as co-directors of the “Mitchells” film.
“’Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’, the ninth film about the four cult lizards, is most reminiscent of the ‘Spider-Man’ visuals. To the filmmakers Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears still seem to go one step further.”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is a visual fusion of everything that has happened at some point in the history of animated cinema in vogue was. The character design appears equal parts three-dimensional and hand-drawn, and there is something photorealistic about the New York panoramas, especially at night. And what’s more, you can see the comic origins of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael in every scene. And that too real ones Origins. The very first “Turtles” comic was characterized by its dark look, strange characters and a certain anarchy; originally created as a parody of the popular “Daredevil”, “X-Men” and “Ronin” comics. Since then, the Turtles have had to endure complete pop culture exploitation; to one split into two films Michael Bayization 2014 and 2016. Screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Bad Neighbors 1 and 2”) as well as Jeff Fowler now move away from the (supposed) blockbuster accessibility of the material and throw the four ninja turtles into a dirty, deserted New York, whose sewer “charm” is evident throughout Big Apple seems to extend. “Mutant Mayhem” – “Mutant Chaos”. The title says it all.
Mutants are friends, not enemies.
This doesn’t just apply to the final act, which is unfortunately a bit too long and overloaded and brings back memories of the finale of “The Suicide Squad”. The oversized starfish kaiju turns into a no less huge super mutant everyone animals that were present at the time of its mutation. This exuberant creativity is downright absurd. After all, the creature also moves through a completely lively metropolis in which every corner, every high-rise facade, every alley is crammed with details. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is one thing first and foremost: a lot! And in its wildest moments it approaches the sensory overload of the “A New Universe” finale. The pace is enormous and the selection of motifs is not always intended to provide an overview. Especially the ones that are used frequently Close-ups sometimes make it difficult to follow what is happening. Nevertheless, the Turtles adventure feels visually more balanced than the Spidey escapades. For example, through a more uniform color spectrum in which the dark green reptiles sometimes seem to literally merge with their surroundings, even disappearing into them. Their existence as ninjas couldn’t be better portrayed.
“’Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ is first and foremost one thing: a lot! And in its wildest moments it matches the sensory overload of the ‘A New Universe’ finale.”
Under the script supervision of the Rogen-Goldberg duo, one would hardly have expected in advance that “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” not A significant part of the tone is due to humor. And in fact, a sense of humor emerges from the different characters of the Turtle siblings, which proves to be the heart of the film – even more than the action. Their constant, inner struggle between a thirst for adventure, adolescent rebellion and the absolute will not to disappoint their foster father Splinter make the four protagonists varied characters who are not just trying to save New York and the world. The effort to balance their different needs is just as exciting and sincere Coming of age-Charm. The meta and pop culture humor automatically fits into this, which in the context of “Mutant Mayhem” doesn’t feel unpleasantly artificial, but rather fits organically into the plot as a result of the character drawings of the characters. The situational comedy and the Turtles’ interaction with themselves and their environment are wonderfully weird and lovingly anarchic. You can’t help but love them – what a contrast to their trying-to-be-cool counterparts in the Michael Bay blockbusters. In “Mutant Mayhem” the four don’t have to rap to be cool.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are just cool – even without having to rap in an elevator (Remember Michael Bay).
Speaking of which Coolness: The character of young reporter April O’Neill, who works alongside the Turtles, forms a refreshing counterweight to the Turtles in the story as an outsider (and victim of bullying) at her school. In her disbelieving viewer position, she grounds the event and thus gives those parts of the audience an opportunity to identify for whom the Turtles are not automatically the heroes worthy of emulation. Accordingly, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is by no means just a film for die-hard “Turtles” fans. Over the course of the ninety minutes, the third particularly important character turns out to be the Turtles’ foster father Master Splinter, who was initially only perceived as a peripheral figure. Of all things, the development of the mutated rat works towards a particularly touching final moment that, with the help of a simple gesture, has more to say about the topics of understanding, cohesion and putting aside prejudices than so many problem dramas with exactly this concern at their heart. A literal handshake becomes one of the most moving scenes of the summer at the cinema and brings a brief moment to a standstill in a finale that has already made pretty much every brain synapse click. It shows that the essence of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is ultimately not the emphasis on the ninja existence of the main characters. Instead, this turns out to be the case mutant in the title as a synonym for being different and the film as optimally placed in the current times.
Conclusion: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is a crazy, sometimes a little overloaded animated film frenzy with brilliant visuals that is as much fun as it is heartwarming.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 3, 2023.