Since 2018’s Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse animation has been dialled up a notch, or 10. Where the Pixar style still remains the norm the hand drawn, almost sketched 2D come 3D animation offers something wonderfully comic book come to life.
So what better way to bring something nostalgic into modern filmmaking. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have never been far from pop culture but this is the first time since their ‘90s heyday that they feel totally awesome.
Telling something of an origin story of how Raphael (Brady Noon), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr), Donatello (Micah Abbey) and Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) became more than just turtles. The film opens with a breakneck raid on Baxter Stockman’s (Giancarlo Esposito) lab, which releases the ooze into the sewers. 15 years later the Turtles are being raised by Splinter (Jackie Chan), a human-fearing rat, but are desperate to lead a normal teenage life. When they help student journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebriri) they soon learn they are not the only mutants in town, but they might be the only ones who can stop them.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is quintessentially Turtle Power. Co-written by Seth Roger, who is clearly a huge fan of the Turtles, this is a delight from start to finish. The creative team behind it clearly have huge affection for the source material and rather than try to reinvent it, simply bask in pure nostalgia of it.
The action is eye-popping thanks to incredible direction and animation from Jeff Rowe and co-director Kyle Spears, two of the creative forces behind the equally brilliant The Mitchells Vs The Machines. Like that film, Mayhem does that meticulous balancing act of blending thrills and spills with huge heart. It does that wonderful thing of feeling like you’re in a comic book, scratchy lines and drawn details swirling around you as if you’ve fallen into a box of crayons and taken a few too many edibles.
What any good animation should do is thrill a younger audience but never lose sight of the adults presumably escorting the target audience. And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem does exactly that. The vibrancy and action are thrills for kids but the humour and wry nods to adult humour bubble constantly at the surface.
A hugely enjoyable slice of animation fun, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is everything you want from a modern take on The Turtles, and then some.