TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Movie Review: Packs every scene with style, humour, and an infectious energy

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Movie Review: Packs every scene with style, humour, and an infectious energy

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem is everything you would expect from a film about teenagers who happen to be mutant turtles with distinct Ninja skills and a bottomless appetite for pizza and adventures 
Rating:(3.5 / 5)

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem is like that one friend with an infectious hyperactive energy who can change your mood and make you feel better even when you don’t necessarily feel like being around them. This is a film that wins you over even when you’re not necessarily in the mood for a whacky comedy about mutant turtles saving a city from a giant mutant monster.

Director: Jeff Rowe
Cast: Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Nicolas Cantu, Micah Abbey, Brady Noon, Shamon Brown Jr

The Turtles leap onto the screen with phenomenal style and energy. In the beginning, although it might feel a bit rushed, the film wastes not a second more than required to set up the characters, the conflict, the character motivations, and their wants and needs with an almost assembly line-like precision. While that might have been a problem in any film, the brevity in the dialogues, aided by the wit and graceful animation, make the scenes flow like butter. This imparts a smooth fluidity to the screenplay, making sure to entertain us even while rushing to set up the story. 

In recent times, films have gotten used to employing pop-culture references, in a desperate attempt to hook the audience and cash-in on brand value of said references. While TMNT: Mutant Mayhem is choc-full of pop-culture references, they are not thrown at the screen mindlessly. For example, an Attack on Titan reference serves to set up a major plot point towards the end. The Jackie Chan film references were a tasteful ode to the martial arts master. Considering how he voices Splinter in the film, the choice to use Jackie Chan film scenes to punctuate Splinter’s character moments was a delightful addition. 

Beneath all the wackiness and its unbridled zest to have fun with itself, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem never forgoes the emotional essence of the story. Even while the film is clearly about a group of hormonal teenage turtles who use their mutant powers to stop a mayhem, it also shows how the difference between the heroes and the villain could be as simple as a loving parent. The central antagonist Superfly (a relentlessly funny Ice Cube) is shown to be an exact mirror of the Turtles and how a loving father like Splinter, ends up making all the difference in their lives. The depth in characterisation could also be found in how Splinter realises how much he has in common with a murderous mutant like Superfly, and evolves out of that to become a better parent. Conversely, the motivations and the fate of the larger threat—the evil corporation who create the mutation-inducing ooze—are either one dimensional or left in the dark. Even though a lead for a sequel is clearly established, the unanswered questions leave us a tad bit disappointed. The best part of the film, which is the Turtles having fun and going on adventures, could have been explored a lot more.

The inventive animation style, while gorgeous to look at, fails to blend well with the chaotic character design of the mutant creatures. With most of the film taking place in the night, the graffiti-like animation style smothers the creature designs to render them indistinguishable at places. While the formulaic build of the film was forgivable during the beginning, it starts grating our patience and makes us yearn for a more daring approach towards the end. However, the film wraps up at just the right time to let us retain the fondness we gathered for it until then. 

The biggest strength of TMNT: Mutant Mayhem are the humorous dialogues, the perfect soundtrack to compliment its energy, and an editing to match the playful rhythm. It is by no means a revelation to note how the film, with its hand-drawn-like animation style and the music choice and the frenzied pacing, derives its DNA from the highly imaginative Into The Spider-Verse(2018). The Spider-Verse films walked so the Ninja Turtles could Cowabunga. However, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem deserves all the praise for elevating the style it is inspired by, instead of being a shallow imitation focused on merely replicating a ‘successful formula’.  
 

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