Jeff Rowe, the director of the enjoyable movie The Mitchells vs. the Machines, has now created a solid reboot of a beloved comic book series in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem from Paramount Pictures. Rowe pens the screenplay with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez, and Benji Samit. The seventh film in the franchise, it also serves as a reboot.
Fifteen years ago, four baby turtles named Donatello (Michah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), and Raphael (Brady Noon), along with a rat, were exposed to the Ooze, which caused their mutation. The rat named Splinter (Jackie Chan) is now their mentor, instilling a belief in them that the human world is wicked and hazardous. However, the Turtles couldn't help but be intrigued by humans and eventually crossed paths with April O'Neill (Ayo Edebiri), an aspiring journalist.
April is investigating the Superfly (Ice Cube), a criminal who committed several high-tech robberies. The Turtles volunteer to help catch him, hoping to become heroes and earn society's respect. However, they must deal with a gang of mutants first. The group of evil mutants included Rocksteady (John Cena), Bebop (Seth Rogen), Leatherhead (Rose Byrne), Mondo Gecko (Paul Rudd), Ray Fillet (Post Malone), and Genghis Frog (Hannibal Buress).
This movie season has been quite a rollercoaster for animated films. While Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was a massive success, Elemental and Ruby Killian received mixed reviews. The Turtles fandom can be hard to please as well. The nostalgia from the '90s trilogy still brings back fond memories, and even the 2007 film met my expectations. The 2014 remake and its sequel, produced by Michael Bay, were considered by some as disastrous. So, how does the latest film compare?
Director Jeff Rowe, known for his work on The Mitchells Against the Machines, and his four co-authors emphasized depicting the teenage aspect of the story. The film starts solid enough, introducing us to Baxter Stoman (Giancarlo Esposito) and his evil deeds, which perfectly sets up our plot. Instead of solely showcasing the turtles' fighting abilities as most movies do, they explore their lives as teenagers in this film.
It delves into their search for purpose and longing for acknowledgment, adding a coming-of-age element that significantly benefits the narrative. However, that doesn't mean there's a lack of action. Particularly towards the end, things truly escalate when humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
This film also includes humor as a significant component. Despite Seth Rogen's and Evan Goldberg's involvement as screenwriters and producers, no crude or excessive jokes are present. Instead, there's a delightful blend of childish humor and clever meta elements that will resonate with audiences of all ages. So grab your popcorn and get ready to enjoy an entertaining adventure with these beloved heroes in a half-shell!
Final Grade: A-
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is in theaters now