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TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Review

The personalities we love for a new generation.

Review Score: 6.5/10

I’m A Turtle fan since the OG cartoons. Ever since I was a kid in the late 80’s early 90s the turtles have been around. They have been in cartoons, movies and have been rebooted several times over the decades. Here we are in Summer 2023 and a new entry for the guys in green. TMNT: Mutant Mayhem.

 I’m a dad now, just entered my 40’s, and now have a 7 yr old daughter. I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce her to one of the franchises I have grown to love over my childhood. I had little expectation but had some hope.

1st off before diving into the movie itself I want to give props to Seth Rogan who was the executive producer on this film for his decision to ensure that all artists working on this film weren’t overworked compared to other projects. As a fellow artist myself I am very appreciative of this.

I want to begin by talking about mine and perhaps others shared experiences with other fan-favorite franchises that have been rebooted and done without care of the source material just for the sake of an easy well-established brand with beloved established characters into a less fleshed-out “shell” of themselves. (Dad pun obviously intended) 

I went into this movie saying to myself “Remember this movie is for the kids, it’s not for me.” Of course, deep inside hoping a little bit is for me and thankfully that is what happened. 

I would’ve loved older teenage turtles that already have mastered their martial arts craft and style showcasing awesome teamwork combos each of them have developed over time. Wishbone crunch from the TMNT 2 (1991) would be 1 example. 

What I appreciated in this movie was that they still captured the individual personalities of each turtle beautifully in a way that’s relevant to popular culture today. Not an easy task! 

This is a movie with young turtles that a new younger generation can grow up with. I have seen some reviews of some other fans around my age that say at times they got bored during some scenes and i get it. There is something though at the end of the film that could hint at content that could get the older gen fans looking forward to in a potential sequel.

They changed the origin story of Splinter and the turtles. Not really impressed with what they came up with especially thinking if the turtles get in a jam and Splinter needs to bail them out the extent of splinters ninja training comes from TV. That would be like me doing billy blanks tai bo boxing videos and then going out and boxing against pros and expecting to kick their butt! It’s not happening! Lol

The story starts out with familiar baddie scientist Baxter Stockman in his lab experimenting with animal mutations. We see Baxter has taken 1 of them on as his beloved pet. A huge Fly. 

Stockman’s experiments have gotten the attention of another familiar name the company, TCRI. A sting operation is tasked to infiltrate stockman’s lab by a female wearing glasses that interestingly resemble or hint to someone else from the old gen’s past that could be an exciting reveal later on should they go that route, who seems to be in charge of things by the name of Cynthia Utrom.

Soldiers barrel into the lab chaos ensues and explosions happen. Baxter disappears in the explosion and animal experiments have escaped the lab and the last bottle of ooze that was used for mutations spills down into the drain onto our 4 baby buddies.

We learn that baxters animal experiments that have managed to escape the explosion have now fully mutated and grown over time led by Baxter’s Pet fly which has also acquired Baxter’s passion for science. A lot of these mutants are classic characters from previous entries.

The turtles while out and about at night come across a young high school girl who is the new April O’Neil. The turtles see her scooter is being stolen by a thug and they chase him down in attempt to help April. After helping April out, the story from this point is about April and the Turtles working together to stop Baxter’s Fly who goes by the name “SupaFly” from acquiring the last few parts around the city to build a device that would turn every other animal in the world into mutants and would kill most of humankind seeking revenge upon humans for what they have done to his father of sorts, Baxter Stockman. All while keeping this a secret from their father.

There are interesting points in the story where they create parallels between Supafly and Splinter who both hate humans for different reasons. Splinter sees how hate and revenge on humans have caused a rift between Superfly and his newfound mutant family who do not seek the same fate for humankind as Supafly does and his hate for humans has driven a gap between him and his teenage sons as well. Fearing that he could succumb to a similar path as Supafly Splinter pauses, and in a moment of clarity decides that for a greater purpose he needs to see past his own personal issues with humans and help his boys save the city and the world as they know it with no expectations should they be victorious.  

They all work together to stop the bug and along the way they learn that doing things for selfish intent often ends up not working out in ways you were hoping for. Being a hero is about doing what’s right for the greater good, only then you will find peace.

I respect the story choices that were made in the movie and appreciate the lessons they weaved in, while balancing good humor and some action with a refreshingly stylish visual style. 

Rounding things out lets talk about what I liked. Humor: I appreciated that Mikey isn’t a dummy and likes things like improv. These are characters that have personality and it shows through.

In this new origin story I would have also liked to have a small scene that gives a bit more backstory regarding their how they got their martial arts abilities showing that over time splinter has also read books studying ninjitsu and trys to encourage the boys to study the books alongside him but they are clearly uninterested because its a book and young teenagers of course hate to read! Surprisingly 1 of them shows interest and reads along and studies with splinter. I’m sure you all might guess which turtle stayed (wink). 

This would nicely hammer home his martial arts prowess before we see him rescue his sons later on in the movie in a style that was reminiscent of Jackie Chan (the actor who voices Splinter) in his martial arts movie Heydays a la Rumble in the Bronx using all of the props and environment to his advantage. It was a nice touch.

1 thing that bothered me with the new characters was the design choice with April. I have no issue making her a person of color but would’ve liked to see her a bit more cute, you can keep the overall clothing style and personality just not so much of a pear-shaped silhouette. 

I hope with the arc that they are starting with these characters who are young, inexperienced, and are very green figuratively and literally, we will see them level up across the board in the next movie. Have it focus more on scenes with the turtles interacting with each other and getting to know them.

I look forward to the sequel and my daughter enjoyed this movie as well! I wasn’t sure she would, sometimes she gets scared when scenes are dark or have monster-looking things or loud noises start happening on screen so it was very successful in my opinion. The movie checked off a lot of boxes. I get to share characters i love from my childhood with a new version for my daughter that she now likes and I LOVE THAT. It was funny, it had a stylish new visual style, a little something for all fans of all ages but definitely understand its leans more towards the younger audience. As long as you go in with that understanding you will have a good time, especially as a parent. Far from perfect but a great intro to a new series with potential. 

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