They’re teens, they’re green, and they’re fighting machines. Yes, the beloved brothers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, have returned to the big screen. The last time we saw the four brothers on the big screen was during Michael Bay’s run with them in 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and 2016’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Those two films left a bad taste in the mouths of longtime and fresh fans of the franchise.
Then came 2023’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Fans were initially left divided when it was revealed that Seth Rogen would be helming and writing the film. The initial look of the turtles also caused fans to point and shake their heads, but everything changed for the better once the trailer was released.
The film follows Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Donatello (Micah Abbey), Raphael (Brady Noon), and Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.) as they yearn to break away from the tight hold their father, Splinter (Jackie Chan) has on them and join the human world as accepted mutants. While out one night, they accidentally draw the attention of a teenage April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri), who is an aspiring reporter, and help her retrieve her stolen scooter. April is trying to uncover who the mysterious and deadly Superfly (Ice Cube) is and help bring him to justice. She then joins forces with the turtles to take down Superfly once and for all.
In some ways, this is a coming-of-age story. The turtles have been told by Splinter that the human world will never accept them and will do harm to them if they are caught. But then, they meet April, who breaks the barrier Splinter placed around them. Instead of the adult-ish teenage turtles we get in every live-action and animated series, Seth Rogen brings us vulnerable, likable, but immature teenagers. The comedy is spot-on and isn’t forced. Sure, there’s more adult comedy that won’t land with kids under fifteen, but it will still put a smile on your kids’ faces. You will never feel that the turtles mirror each other; they look different and act differently. This is what Johnathan Liebesman and Josh Appelbaum didn’t understand and is one of the reasons why their version of the turtles didn’t work.
The animation was very similar to the style we’ve seen in Sony’s Into the Spider-verse films that center on Miles Morales. Everything was fluid and popped, from the turtles’ designs to the different environments. And the music! I knew Seth wasn’t going to miss the music. The film featured songs from Mobb Deep to Wu-Tang and other hits from the 90s that will surely have you humming or rapping whenever the songs play.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is an amazing film. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it’s the second best next to the 1990 film. This film is perfect! If it weren’t for me being so attached to the 1990 film, I would say this film tops the list. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will release in theaters on August 2, 2023. The film features the voices of Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady, Hannibal Buress, Rose Byrne, John Cena, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Natasia Demetriou, Ayo Edebiri, Giancarlo Esposito, Post Malone, Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Maya Rudolph.