I am loving how mainstream animation for kids is undergoing an era of creative renewal. Call it the ‘Spider-Verse effect‘. Since the 2018 release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – with its comic book-esque animation style – major studies seem to be less afraid to divert from the norm.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem embraces the new age, intricate computer-generated visuals blend together with vibrating doodles and unclean sketchy lines. The animators literally coloured outside the lines on this one. The movie reminds of me the art that comes with a free period, some pens and a notebook – done by one of the crazy-talented art kids!
But the pay-off is that the characters really come to life with vivid greenness, striking colours and vibrant eyes. My favourite use of this art style was during explosions. Seeing those digital pen scribbles swirling around, made me giddy like a kid.
A new spin on a ~classic~ story.
This revamp, directed by Jeff Rowe, dedicates much of its early parts to the Turtles’ origin story. It goes: a shady corporation conducts genetic testing, a rogue scientist steals the ooze that transforms animals into mutant creatures. Some of that ooze then seeps into the sewers and comes into contact with four baby turtles.
The Turtles’ are raised by a worrywart mutant humanoid rat, Splinter, who is played by the talented Jackie Chan. As the name suggests, we then come to know the reptile brothers as teenagers: Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Raphael (Brady Noon), Donatello (Micah Abbey) and Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.).
Splinter teaches his ‘sons’ how to fight, and forbids them from interacting with the ‘evil’ humans above the sewers. These teens want – more than anything – to be embraced by humankind…and attend high school.
But the brothers’ dream becomes reality, when the people of New York are terrorised by another mutant creature, Superfly (Ice Cube), who aims to take over the whole world. The Turtles’ team up with young journalist, April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) to save the day and hopefully be accepted into society.
Stable internet connection in the sewers?
These Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are adapted for the Internet Age. The dialogue is fun and filled with pop culture references but just the internet, it becomes, a little tiring.
And even though the brothers’ live deep in the sewers, they have access to things like YouTube, TikTok and a (surprisingly) really strong Wi-Fi connection!
Jokes aside, this movie becomes heartfelt when the group takes witty, brotherly jabs at each other. Or when they hype each other up. It is wholesome and playful. I can see why – even after its first releases in the 80s – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are still so popular.
Overall, it is a fun movie for kids and adults alike. The jokes and dialogue might fly over the heads of really young kids. The music was amazing and really added to the fun-factor of the film.
The characters are not complex. And the plot offers no surprises, it’s a little cliche. But it shows heart when it counts, is insanely fun to watch, and has a great message about tolerance and having good intentions.