Movie Reviews

Movie Review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ Starring Ice Cube, Jackie Chan

Posted: August 1, 2023 at 8:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, catching the cartoon anytime it was on, collecting the action figures, and even seeing all the films. I’m still a fan of the original independent film and even the much hokier second film, Secret of the Ooze featuring an appearance by rapper Vanilla Ice.

The newest incarnation to the Turtles franchise is Mutant Mayhem, and I’m sorry to say this film suffers from Secret of the Snooze. Yep, I may be in the minority here, but the newest Turtles film from co-writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg is just a half-shelled attempt at revitalizing a film franchise that’s been extinct for a long time now.

Now, before you break out the martial arts on me, let me explain. I was a huge fan of the trailer. The film looked sharp on the television, and I will give it another watch when it is streaming. I really felt like the first big problem is the film didn’t look all that great on the big screen in a movie theater. The Mikros Animation visuals just didn’t come across looking stellar to me.

Director Jeff Rowe’s film is a wholly CGI affair that looks like it’s been hand-crafted, its surfaces (sewer walls, city skyscrapers, explosive clouds of smoke) embellished with bold and scribbled lines. It looks like a comic book, which seems cool to me, but it just didn’t look appealing to me on the big screen. That was problem number one.

Problem number two is the script. It’s paper thin and just plain ridiculous. The Turtles come across as more annoying than anything. The formulaic script shows a short prologue as to how the Turtles came to be. Dr. Baxter Stockman, voiced by the wonderful Giancarlo Esposito is trying to alleviate his loneliness by making a new family with green mutant serum, referred to as ooze, of course. This ooze allows him to turn bugs and other animals into human-like creatures. Stockman’s rival, voiced by Maya Rudolph is after the potion and after a special-ops raid of Stockman’s lab, has unknowlingly spilled the ooze into the sewers, covering the four baby turtles and a rat named Splinter, voiced by Jackie Chan.

Splinter becomes the surrogate father to Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, teenage turtles named after Italian Renaissance greats, but the movie doesn’t allude to this which is another issue I had with it. Rather than focus on that and even how the turtles came to have their weapons, the film decides to focus on modern-day references that young audiences will know, like Batman, Beyonce, Avengers, and on and on.

While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always been juvenile and even lacked maturity like most teens at times, the new film reduces the Turtles to twerking and using contemporary slang like “sus”.

It’s not all totally bad though. I did like Chan as Splinter. He gave the character a unique and loving feel. Ice Cube as the villain Superbly was also an enjoyable change. I found myself liking him much more than the annoying Turtles. The 90s soundtrack and references will also likely keep parents from nodding off during the film. I also dug the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

I thought I would enjoy all the guest stars lending their voices to characters, but in the end, it was all for nothing. Being a huge fan of Seth Rogen, I was severely let down. He also voices Bebop to go along with his writing credit. John Cena voices Rocksteady, although you wouldn’t know by how the film changes the voice. Post Malone plays a singing manta ray Ray, while Paul Rudd plays a skateboarding gecko named Mondo. Natasia Demetriou plays Wingnut, a bat. All these are wasted in my opinion. They are nothing more than afterthoughts to the film.

While the original two films, not perfect by any means, had likable characters and catchy one-liners, with the new film, we get the Turtles trademark phrase Cowabunga, one time and it’s quite forgettable.

Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem had big aspirations, but ultimately came up short. Because of a couple funny lines and the previously mentioned things I enjoyed about the film, I can’t say it was an utter failure, it just didn’t live up to my expectations being a Rogen fan and a Turtles fan. Maybe I’m too nostalgic or just not into the type of CGI and cartoonish look of the film, but this latest incarnation of our Heroes in a Half Shell just wasn’t for me.

Take me back to the days of Ninja Rap. Unfortunately I can’t tell you to Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go to this film.

Mutant Mayhem gets a D+.