Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is the seventh TMNT movie and the third reboot of the franchise. The voice cast for Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo are Nicholas Cantu, Micah Abbey, Brady Noon, and Shamon Brown Jr. with Seth Rogan, Jackie Chan, and Ice Cube playing the villains and older characters. Ayo Edebiri voices the high school version of April O’Neil, as the film focuses on casting young voices for the teenage turtles – a creative choice that – weirdly – hasn’t been done before (the voice actors for the 2007 animated TMNT film were all in their thirties).
The story is the origin of the teenage mutant ninja turtles. The film begins when the turtles are first soaked in the ooze, and we don’t see some of the most famous villains in this early part of the rebooted franchise. Ice Cube voices Superfly, a mutant flea who wants to kill all the humans. The film juxtaposes the villain’s xenophobia with Splinter’s own anti-human prejudice, a foil relationship that resolves predictably.
Ultimately, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a fun, exciting, engaging, and colorful film that I think will work for its audience. This is meant to be a kid’s first TMNT movie, and it has limited crossover appeal for older Turtles fans who grew up with television cartoon and the original live action films. Mutant Mayhem is attempting to rebrand the franchise for a new audience, and it largely works in that way.
The action and animation aren’t as ground-breaking as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, but these elements are in the same ballpark and better than the average modern animated film. And although there is nascent formation of their personalities, the turtles as characters are less individualized, but that’s because they haven’t developed into archetypes that they eventually will.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is for young kids, and while the parents who take them to cinema might not find anything new, it will nonetheless be an enjoyable time at the movies.