Jeff Rowe’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is the brand new CGI animated adaptation of the traditional Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comedian ebook sequence
It’s additionally a reboot that reimagines/modifications the origin story of the central characters.
Right here, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael first encounter April O’Neil whereas she’s in highschool and spend most of their first journey coping with a military of mutations, run by kingpin named Superfly.
The key distinction right here between the supply materials, the a number of prior movie variations and the animated sequence is that now the title characters are bummed out by their existence. You learn that proper – these speaking turtles who’ve a secret lair, are martial arts masters and feast on pizza day-after-day are experiencing Teenage Mutant Ninja Anguish.
Are you kidding me?
Keep in mind that nice second in Steve Barron’s 1990 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” when Michelangelo’s means to dodge a sword by ducking into his shell conjures up him to scream, “God, I love being a TURTLE”?
Right here, our heroes are having an existential disaster and lean into the need to be human. It’s an ill-advised, Physician Moreau-like conundrum that by no means ought to have been thought-about.
Clearly, there’s nothing cooler than being a freaking Ninja Turtle! Giving our 4 leads a “Wizard of Oz”-like want to be human undermines what needs to be a celebration of their freakish bravado and synergy of popular culture components.
I recall how violent these early, black-and-white problems with Eastman and Laird’s comedian books had been (and nothing right here comes near duplicating that). However, had been the comedian books ever this off-putting?
FAST FACT: The 1990 movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” earned $135 million on the U.S. field workplace. The 2014 reboot? $191 million. (BoxOfficeMojo.com)
There’s approach an excessive amount of gross-out humor right here. I’m betting that the forthcoming “Exorcist” sequel received’t have as a lot projectile vomiting as this film does.
“Mutant Mayhem” is involving however by no means charming. 5 screenwriters, together with Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen are credited. Maybe there have been too many cooks within the pizza kitchen?
The scenes with Grasp Splinter are probably the most emotionally partaking and that has quite a bit to do with how in tune Jackie Chan’s vocal efficiency is. Splinter is one other character that has been refashioned by Rogen and Goldberg’s angst, although the angle of being a lonely, stay-at-home rat dad at the least has some kick.
The screenplay leans into how the turtles not solely need to work together with people (which, by what we see right here, is because of how a lot they get pleasure from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) however really go to highschool (!).
We’re additionally alleged to consider that humankind has been relentlessly merciless to those outsiders however stop all bigotry after a single newscast that informs us that the title characters are heroes. Additionally, Donatello and Splinter each put on prescription glasses (take into consideration that for a second).
I should buy the speaking, big turtles with martial arts prowess however the lack of logic right here goes past the breaking level.
Chan and Ayo Edibiri as O’Neil supply an awesome deal of their vocal performances and provides heft to the reconfigured tackle the characters. I like April O’Neil’s pluck and vulnerability and Splinter has all the time been the middle of those tales – within the inevitable sequels, I’d like much more of those two and fewer of every thing else.
The screenplay additionally bombards us with popular culture references, to a level that you just’d assume this was a self-parody. There’s a second the place Superfly declares that he’s now “Super-duper fly,” then waits a beat earlier than trying into the digital camera and asking us if we received the Missy Elliot reference (Sure, we received it!).
It’s not intelligent or humorous.
— The Previous Turtle Den (@TheOldTurtleDen) August 9, 2023
Using classic hip-hop tracks was really served higher within the different Paramount nostalgia fueled summer season flick, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.”
As an motion film, solely Splinter’s takedown of a roomful of villains elicits any awe. In any other case, Kevin Munroe’s undervalued “TMNT” (2007) had much better motion, as did the nonetheless unbeatable 1990 live-action unique, which has the grit, humor, motion and scrappy appeal that this lacks.
The visible presentation is the largest aesthetic distinction between this and the opposite Ninja Turtles films. The animation suggests a portray come to life; it’s lovely to take a look at for some time, till it lingers on rotting environments and puke brown colour schemes, with a blurring impact that undermines most of the huge motion set items.
To say the least, the filmmakers clearly meant to match the strategy of “Spider-Verse” films and have mirrored among the methods with out connecting to the visible poetry of these movies.
I used to be on this film’s nook for many of the approach, till the indifferently grotesque aspect characters, relentless puking and unfunny popular culture nods and shaky-cam motion wore me down.
I like that there’s a brand new tackle a Ninja Turtle film and there are components right here which are promising as this franchise strikes ahead, however there’s an excessive amount of junk floating on this ooze.