Directed by: Jeff Rowe
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Written by Alexander Reams
I’ve been a fan of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” since the 2007 CG-animated film, which led me to the animated series, movies, and comics, and fell down a rabbit hole that so many who saw them did. There was an innocence to them, but the postulation over good vs. evil was always the segue to its entertainment, its action sequences. The Turtles property has thrived on humorous action sequences, the best of which can be found in 2014’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” These ideas were long separated from one another until Hollywood’s #1 teenager fixed his focus on the iconic property and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” was born. Seth Rogen has a very successful track record of quality content, “Preacher,” “The Boys,” and “Pam & Tommy” to name a few. His partner through it has been Evan Goldberg, and under their Point Grey Productions, they brought in Jeff Rowe as Director and co-Writer (co-Director and co-Writer of “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”), and assembled one of the best casts for a “Turtles” film.
“Mutant Mayhem” leads off with Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito) who develops a mutant serum and is eventually killed by his boss, Cynthia Utrom (an absolutely unhinged Maya Rudolph). The serum makes its way to the sewers and infects four turtles, who are taken in by a rat, Splinter (Jackie Chan), and trained to be ninjas. Flashforward fifteen years and the teenage angst is at an all-time high for these green fellows. The back and forth between the turtles in these early scenes feel like a real lunch table conversation from that time in high school. Rogen, Goldberg, Rowe, and co-writers Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit capture this time period perfectly, but it wouldn’t work without proper voice work from the turtles. Never before have the Turtles been voiced by actual teenagers, those voices being Nicholas Cantu as Leonardo, Brady Noon as Raphael, Micah Abbey as Donatello, and Shamon Brown Jr. as Michaelangelo, bring the script to life in ways that never could have been done with older performers.
The style of animation employed is exactly as advertised, it looks like school notebook drawings, it feels sketched, lines don’t always have to be straight, and the laws of physics only apply to certain people. The world feels brought to life in a creative way, which makes it a character of its own. What has been assembled for “Mutant Mayhem” feels nothing short of a homecoming for these two-toed icons. From the amount of star power assembled to the care, trust, and love from every single performer and department that explodes within every frame of the film. It’s the Turtles film I’ve wanted to see for years and still can’t believe they actually pulled it off.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” Trailer