Set in New York City, we follow the four well-known and popular Ninja Turtles. This time, things are very different. Here, we get to learn how the turtles became mutants skilled with ninja abilities thanks to their father, Master Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan). In the present day, the ninja turtles are young teenagers forced to live in hiding, as the humans above are not known for being overly kind toward them. However, the turtles long to be accepted and live an everyday life, attending school, interacting with others, and making friends.
One evening, while playing on a rooftop, the turtles accidentally interact with another teenager named April O’Neil (voiced by Ayo Edebiri), who is investigating a strange crime wave run by someone known as Superfly (voiced by Ice Cube). The turtles get excited when they come up with a brilliant idea- what if they help April and bring Superfly to justice? In doing so, in return, they hope the city and its people will be more accepting of them! However, as the four turtles investigate, they’ll soon discover they’re not the only mutants secretly roaming the city.
For those unaware, this film is a whole new story about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and serves as a soft reboot. It is an enjoyable feature for returning hardcore fans and younger crowds discovering the characters for the first time. For returning fans, be warned that some aspects of the storyline, including how the turtles came to be, now carry a few new changes. As a returning fan and long-term lover of the characters, I was thankful and surprised by the bold changes. Even if some of the changes felt unnecessary, it’s evident the film was trying to do something new and exciting instead of retelling the same old story over again.
The animation presented is a new style and is strong. Mostly, the animation feels like a comic book with colours that strongly remind me of glowing neon lights. The action sequences are even more welcomed in this new style, especially when we see the turtles in action or delivering a slow-motion, powerful blow to their enemies. The quick dialogue and banter among the four green heroes is tremendous, witty, and incredible, with believable voice work from Micah Abbey as Donatello, Shamon Brown Jr. as Michelangelo, Nicolas Cantu as Leonardo and Brady Noon as Raphael. The pacing, for the most part, is also great and contains many surprises. The final showdown is also entertaining.
Overall, this new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animation film contains plenty of enjoyment for returning hardcore fans and new young crowds discovering the heroes for the first time. The film carries an enjoyable level of creativity, and the animation work is a new concept for this franchise. It is wonderful seeing our green heroes at different times of their lives. Forget what you know about the original story- there are some changes here. It’s great to see the film taking risks and making changes, attempting to be fresh. Many pop culture references are made throughout, which is enjoyable, and the dialogue and banter among the leads is continuously witty. Buckle up; this new TMNT film is wildly tubular and gnarly dudes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023) Available in Australian Cinemas September 7th.