Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (now streaming on VOD services like Amazon Prime Video) marks the umpteenth – give or take a few – reinvention of a deathless franchise. And you recognize, it may be essentially the most impressed riff on the enduring characters in many years, probably as a result of Seth Rogen is a co-writer and producer, and Jeff Rowe follows his co-director credit score on the great The Mitchells vs. the Machines together with his first lead-director gig. The TMNT franchise – launched with a sequence of culty black-and-white comix within the mid-Nineteen Eighties – actually wanted freshening up after a meh-worthy TV sequence (the franchise’s fourth, with a fifth Mutant Mayhem spinoff within the works for Paramount+) that ran from 2018-20, and its two prior cinematic outings, which had been produced by Michael Bay and suffered mightily as a result of of that. In the higher cinematic context, although, one factor is definite: This visually and tonally inventive movie exists as a result of we’re in a post-Into the Spider-Verse world, the place animated movies that don’t appear like all the opposite animated movies earn lots of of hundreds of thousands and win Oscars.

The Gist: Note, Mutant Mayhem is a exhausting reboot, so we shouldn’t be shocked when it shortly will get to origining. You know, origining – it’s what occurs once we already know the backstory however we’re getting it anyway. Fifteen years in the past, a kerfuffle in a barely endearingly bizarre weirdo’s basement laboratory resulted in a vial full of glowing inexperienced ooze falling into the New York City sewer, the place it smashed open and sat there, patiently ready for one thing to be mutated by it. Cue 4 bizarre child turtles, who wandered by means of the goop and bought all gooped up and have become anthropomorphic child turtles. They had been discovered by a regular rat named Splinter (Jackie Chan!), who additionally bought gooped up after which shortly mutated into an upright, speaking rat, which made it simpler to turn into the turtles’ adoptive father. They holed up in a cozy spot in a sewer chamber, the place Splinter raised his turtle boys to understand pizza, and taught them to be ninjas due to some previous VHS tapes from the Nineteen Eighties (one can solely hope that one of these was Gymkata).

Cut to the current day. The turtles, because it says on the bundle, are actually youngsters. There’s Donatello (Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) and Raphael (Brady Noon), all of whom have considerably distinct personalities, however in any other case are characterised by their collective whoa-dude lingo and a want to see what the world is like up there the place the people dwell. Wisely, Splinter pooh-poohs such publicity, as a result of he is aware of people would choose them as freaks, and fears that they’ll be captured by shitheads and milked. Yes, milked. It’s the movie’s strongest operating joke, that some deranged maniac would need to milk a ninja turtle as a substitute of, I dunno, dissecting them or placing them in a cage or (gasp) making them reality-TV stars, which might be a destiny worse than dying.

All the turtles are allowed to do is fetch (learn: steal) groceries below the duvet of darkness, after shops are closed. One evening, their uninteresting errands are waylaid when a pleasant human teen named April O’Neil (Ayo Edibiri) spots them – then promptly will get her moped stolen. The turtles retrieve the moped, which requires them to wallop the dwelling crud out of a bunch of thugs. It’s the start of lovely friendships, one between the turtles and April, who doesn’t worry or choose or run away from them, and one between the turtles and violence, because it was their first struggle, and it rattling certain ain’t gonna be their final. See, April’s a budding journalist who’s making an attempt to trace down a villain dubbed Superfly (Ice Cube), who’s been stealing high-tech devices with such frequency, the mayor is threatening to lock down town. April thinks breaking the story will overshadow an embarrassing incident at college, whereas the turtles assume that thwarting Superfly will make them heroes, and subsequently accepted into mainstream society. As the clever man stated, if solely it had been so easy: Things go awry, as they beautiful a lot virtually should – after which the turtles get milked. It’s true. Turns out Splinter isn’t simply a nutty previous fart. He’s a sensible

nutty previous fart.

Photo: Everett Collection

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: You understand how the Spider-Verse films replicated the colour and magnificence of comedian books? Mutant Mayhem takes a comparable tack, with a sketchy, scribbly aesthetic that distinctly captures its gritty city setting.

Performance Worth Watching Hearing: Rogen, Paul Rudd, Rose Byrne, John Cena and Post Malone are amongst a star-studded forged of supporting voice roles – however Chan is the standout, exhibiting impeccable comedian timing and supply, aided and abetted by a zinger-laden script.

Memorable Dialogue: Donatello dishes out a diss geared toward one of his turtle bros – a prime instance of this script’s frenzy of pop-culture references: “Your head seems to be like Stewie had a child with Hey Arnold!”

Sex and Skin: None.

Our Take: Mutant Mayhem provides us the identical previous dudespeaking characters in the identical previous save-the-city plot, however its animation and script transcend the standard tropes of animated movies (TMNT adventures or in any other case). Visually, it’s eccentric and difficult, full of surprises and youthful vigor; the characters are rendered huggably grotesque, and the backgrounds have a free-form look that sits someplace between colored-pencil scribbles and wild graffiti. Rowe and co-director Kyler Spears present a proclivity for spirited motion sequences – one deftly cross-cuts among the many 4 turtles particular person adventures and is about to Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” and simply while you assume that’s the 12 months’s greatest needle drop, a chase sequence dares to make us chortle when the turtles and their friends get to singing a goofy remix of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up.”

The screenplay boasts 5 writers (that’s not counting 4 “story by” credit and nods to OG TMNT creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman), usually a warning check in different movies. But Rogen and frequent filmmaking accomplice Evan Goldberg (whose collaborations embrace This is the End, Superbad and Sausage Party) set the tone with an avalanche of jokes, together with nods to all the pieces from BTS to Fruit Ninja, Shrek and Attack on Titan. Another, less-obvious reference could also be to basic X-Men comedian and movie storylines – Mutant Mayhem establishes its villain as a fellow mutant who has a lot in frequent with our turtles, which complicates the battle and ornaments the screenplay’s mild exploration of prejudice, acceptance and integration. This iteration of the turtles finds them craving to be regular youngsters who go to highschool and hang around; the truth that they discover themselves in a film that appears and feels exterior the norm is fairly rattling refreshing.

Our Call: STREAM IT. No one’s going to accuse TMNT: Mutant Mayhem of being overly profound or poignant – particularly contemplating most TMNT A/V outings haven’t given us far more than hyperactive violence and grating comedy – however its fashion, vitality and creativeness give it appreciable enchantment.

John Serba is a freelance author and movie critic based mostly in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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