Out of all the films I saw this past July, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is surprisingly the film that I’d say made me feel the most emotionally, even to the point of warming my ice cold heart to near tears (but not quite).
The film is perfect as a children’s animation, but at the same time it doesn’t fail to include a level of depth that older audiences and longtime fans of the Turtles can enjoy and appreciate. The themes of being an outsider, inclusion, wanting to belong, and found family are easy to pick up on. However, this time around it’s not just from the perspective of the Turtles but also the older adult mutants in their world, Splinter and Superfly voiced by Jackie Chan and Ice Cube respectively.
As the older characters of this film, it’s their flashbacks which help frame a past informed by pain as outcasts and outsiders that directly influenced the present conditions for most of the characters. The Turtles and Splinter live underground away from mankind, afraid of being treated poorly as a result of how they may look. And Superfly plots with his family to wreak vengeance on a world that they believe could never accept them.
In addition to a solid plot, the jokes and pop culture references work to make the dialogue feel light-hearted but also personable. The look and feel of the CGI animation is stylized to feel like drawings out of a sketchbook with color, lighting, and movement added of course. And of course the characters feel distinct and memorable in this reboot of the Turtles series. And of course with recognizable names in the voice credits such as John Cena, Seth Rogen, Giancarlo Esposito, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Paul Rudd, Post Malone, and Hannibal Buress having this ensemble cast of characters as recognizably different is to be expected. Props need to be given to the young actors voicing the Turtles as they really stepped up in their portrayals – Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon.
Don’t miss out, be sure to catch the film while it is still in theaters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is also now available on digital for home release.
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