Growing up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80’s cartoons, my expectations were very high going into this. The main reason being the creative minds behind this film namely Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg said in various interviews that the ‘teenage’ aspect of the characters is what stuck with them the most and they plan to focus more on that. This made a lot of sense since the recent live-action films showed the turtles as being goofy adults and they sounded more grown up. There are a lot of aspects of this film I liked a lot but there are a few others that I did not like at all.
First of all, the animation is stunningly gorgeous and feels very fresh and unique. It’s the same feeling everyone got when they watched Into the Spider-verse for the first time. The action sequences were also very good and expressed each character’s unique fighting style very well. Teenagers voiced the turtles so they sounded way better than anything we have seen in the past. The comedy was solid and although it didn’t have much that made me laugh out loud but at least it consistently made me smile.
The story could have been better. It reminded me of The Amazing Spider-Man storyline with the Lizard trying to convert all humans to reptiles as he felt humans were weak. The storyline was similar with the Superfly trying to build a device to convert all humans to mutants. It’s got the cliché “I want to be accepted in society” plot line but they do a good job at making me feel for these characters during just the first 15 minutes of the movie. The chemistry between the brothers was great and Splinter voiced by Jackie Chan was just brilliant.
So, for a large portion of the movie, they kept adding as many pop culture references as possible within their speech mentioning a huge range of movies and shows specifically like Attack On Titan. Whilst these are fun at first, it just keeps happening again and again and like I get it they’re all nerds but just calm down a bit. Secondly, certain dialogues were repeated way too much. I understand that the emphasis was more on the teenage vibes but at some point, it felt like the characters were overly hyper than anything else.
One of the main things I loved about the 80’s cartoons was the music. When the turtles have their backs against the wall and they fight back the music suddenly becomes fast-paced and just kicks ass. In this film, you have these big over the top colorful action sequences yet you’re listening to music that you think will hit a high but it never does. WHY? They had a massive opportunity to create something unbelievably special to rival something like Spider-verse yet kept the music to a minimum. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have created some beautiful scores in a lot of films in the past, but this is probably the worst. You can have one of the greatest scenes visually in cinematic history but if the music misses and doesn’t match with the emotion of the scene, it easily reduces the quality of that scene. I felt next to any sort of excitement during most of the climax since the music was just not at the same level and didn’t feel like there was any build-up.
The other problem was the lack of character arcs for each brother. I get that they’re all in this together but I would have liked to see some specific character moments at any point in the film. Splinter and April had their moments but none of the turtles on their own had any. Lastly, even though there was no Shredder in this film, the one thing I could not get my head around is why keep changing the TMNT lore with each film. I didn’t care for Superfly and his gang. Bebop and Rocksteady were non-existent and hardly had any screen time. The movie felt like it just came to a standstill in the end, I was expecting maybe a final act which did not happen. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem looks visually stunning with great voice casts which feels fresh but the script and music in the second half bring it down.