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The Latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the Final Romp of This Summer Season

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the film is its exceptional animation.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)


To me, there are few things that are as apparent products of the 1980s such as the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Originating as a comic in 1984, the series followed four skilled martial artists fighting crime in New York City’s shadows. They also happened to be 15-year-old, humanoid turtles that lived in the sewer. The characters would explode in popularity a few years later when the comics were adapted as a Saturday morning cartoon, which is how we know them today. The franchise has spanned almost 40 years, including eight film adaptations. In the newest adaptation, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants Mayhem” writer Seth Rogen has brought the turtles back to animation with a few modern twists.

In “Mutant Mayhem” the turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello devise a plan to defeat criminal mutant Superfly in order to win the love of humans and join the real world, leaving their secret dwelling of the sewers.

A Fresh and Different Look

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the film is its exceptional animation. Following in the footsteps of the “Spiderverse” series and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”, “Mutant Mayhem” creates a hand-drawn effect with is’s computer-generated animation and plays with its framerate to create a dynamic sense of action. Where it takes it a step forward is how the animators chose to style this “hand-drawn effect.” Choosing a far more rugged and “sketch-like” design. The film is almost entirely free of a single clean line, with most objects and settings having skewed edges or lines that look like they’ve been drawn over a few times. Each mutant and human has their own unique and funky look. The distinct style continues into the actions with explosions, fire or slime are often represented by squiggly lines that look straight out of a child’s coloring book. This unique animation style is incredibly refreshing and a pure delight to watch in movement on the screen.

A big selling point of this new adaptation was how actual teenagers were voicing the titular turtles. On the positive side, the relationship between the four brothers shined and you really felt the chemistry between them. Each actor does a great job making their turtle distinct beyond the obvious characteristics each turtle has been assigned. On the more negative side, sometimes the jokes or usage of “modern lingo” from the turtles becomes grating and at times even cringe-worthy. There were definitely a few times I wish the director had yelled “CUT!” That being said, the movie is often laugh out loud funny, especially with some edgier jokes that seemed to slip through the censors.

(Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

The other actors that stood out were Ice Cube as Superfly, Ayo Edebiri as April O’Neil, and Jackie Chan as Splinter. Ice Cube brings a perfect balance of menace and humor to his character, walking a fine line many can’t achieve. Edebiri’s April is relatable and realistic as an anxious journalist determined to be something more. Finally, Chan as the turtles’  rat mentor/father figure, Splinter, is possibly the funniest character in the film bringing a true “dad energy” to each scene he is in.

Top-Tier Action

“Mutant Mayhem’s” storyline may be a bit thin and rushed at times, but it allows for some truly fantastic action sequences. It’s difficult to pick a favorite moment, whether it be a slapstick scuffle in a mechanic’s garage, a brutal interrogation montage or the final kaiju battle in Times Square. All of these phenomenal scenes are backed by one of the best scores of the year composed by Nine Inch NailsTrent Reznor and Atticus Ross, also known for scoring “The Social Network”. Mixing electronic and industrial sounds together, the score constantly has you hooked into each new scene it’s featured.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” may never reach the highs of this summer’s earlier animated hit “Across the Spiderverse” but it’s still a great watch worth seeing in theaters. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the turtles or a newcomer to the franchise, I can almost completely guarantee you’ll leave the theater with a grin on your face…and a hankering for a large cheese pizza.


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About the Contributor
Graham Jones, Arts Writer, Audio Producer
Graham Jones was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Utah to study film. Despite his passion for cinema, Graham joined the Chronicle to engage with the University of Utah community and pursue his love for journalism. Outside of the student media office, Graham can be found buried deep into the pages of a graphic novel or lip-syncing to the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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