The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles certainly don’t need an introduction into pop culture. The group in one way or another has been prominent in film, games, tv, and toys for 30+ years now. Mutant Mayhem though brings them back into the spotlight with a fresh, funny, and all around enjoyable animated film that anyone, regardless of age, will enjoy.
Giving us a quick story featuring Baxter Stopman creating the ooze that mutated the turtles and everyone we are quickly thrown 15 years into the future. We then get Splinter retelling the story of finding, caring for, and training the Ninja Turtles before being thrust into their current lives. Yearning for a normal teenager life the turtles, after a mistake with a throwing star, help stop a crime in which they played a part of and gets introduced to April O’Neil, also a teenager here.
Thinking that helping solve the big crime case will make the humans accept them, the turtles set out to find “Superfly” and figure out what he wants. This leads to the turtles realizing they aren’t the only mutants that have been exposed and deciding whose side they are really on.
Now the film does take a heavy approach into a meaningful story. We see Splinter want the turtles to remain in the sewers as he fears the human world and doesn’t want to lose the only family he has. The turtles however want to branch out and this causes our divide between them.
What really helps set all this in so well is the voice acting here. Splinter as Jackie Chan and the 4 turtles, Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), Brady Noon (Raphael), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo), and Micah Abbey (Donatello), all feel genuine. This helps as for the first time here the turtles are portrayed as actual kids with feelings and thoughts that a normal teen might have be it wanting to be in school, have friends, their first crush, and so on. Each turtle feels unique and distinctive as well here so the constant pop culture references and slang the turtles use feel authentic for what would be a kid their age.
Even out mutant side cast is fantastic. Superfly, played by Ice Cube, is pretty much just himself here but with a god complex. His one liners, even referencing his own rap songs, works wonders. The rest of the mutants consisting of Bebop (Seth Rogen), Rocksteady (John Cena), Wingnut (Natasia Demetriou), Ray Fillet (Post Malone), Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), Genghis Frog (Hannibal Buress), Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd) all have their one liners here that fit perfectly and sets each character out. Gecko is sure to be the hot character of the summer with kids.
The animation here is one of the real stars though. While it will be compared to the likes of Spiderverse, Mutant Mayhem feels much more like a straight sketchbook that has come to life. The 2D and 3D animations blend beautifully together with characters and scenes blending together and popping right off the screen. Backed by the animation is a beautiful soundtrack made by heavy hitters Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Mixing synths that work perfectly in the settings intermixed with a whose whose of hip hop and rap songs the music here couldn’t work better.
Hitting its stride in almost every way Mutant Mayhem may end up as the best animated film of 2023. Its funny, has great action, looks and sounds fantastic, and has one of the more impressive casts for a film out right now. One can only hope that this blows it out of the park so we can kick off a true franchise and see everything else their universe has to offer.
4.5 / 5