Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem (Rowe, 2023)

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Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem

Production Companies: Nickelodeon Movies, Point Grey Pictures

Director: Jeff Rowe

Producers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver

Scriptwriters: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jeff Rowe, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit

Main Cast: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr, Hannibal Buress, Brady Noon, Rose Byrne, Nicolas Cantu, Jackie Chan

Release Date: August 2nd 2023 (US)

Running Time: 100 minutes

Certificate: PG


Well somebody’s clearly watched the Spider Verse films. Quip about the animation and art style aside, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem is the best Ninja Turtles film by a country mile. Not that this is an impressive achievement when Michael Bay brought CGI nightmare Shrek turtles to cinemas… Anyway, Mutant Mayhem fully embraces the universe with some fun vocal performances and the aforementioned art style. Oh, SPOILER warning in full effect (mostly for the mid credits scene) Now, without further ado here is my review of the heroes in the half shells latest outcome.


TMNT Mutant Mayhem follows the Ninja Turtles, Raphael (Noon), Donatello (Abbey), Michelangelo (Brown Jr) and Leonardo (Cantu), as they rebel against their father Splinter’s (Chan) wishes to keep them below the human world lest the evil humans mistreat them. Yeah really for a PG film there’s entirely too many references to teenagers being milked… Anyway, when curiosity strikes and the Turtles meet April O’Neil, they’re plunged into a dangerous world where the Superfly (Ice Cube) intends to make the whole world into mutants. Well, that’s one way to find acceptance…


Animation in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem

Well, I may as well start with the elephant in the room: the film’s animation and art style. And frankly, it’s brilliant. While Rogen has stated it was inspired by high school drawings, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons to the Spider Verse films. Just look at the way the Turtles move which feels and looks like it came straight out of a comic with the lines of movement whenever they jump off buildings or into combat. Also, the roughness of the background, particularly in some of the skyscrapers and landmarks, reinforces the comic book feel and edgy artistic designs of the comics.

Also, as I’ll cover later it really helps to have a very visually pleasing film. This is because it distracts from even the most lacklustre story. In addition to just looking very nice, I’ve also got to touch on the design of the Turtles. Mostly because they actually look like the characters rather than the aforementioned steroid ridden Shrek imitations. Just look at the scene where they transform thanks to the Ooze where they actually transform into the classic design. Obviously, much younger and adorable versions. Once again, it bears repeating that pretty visuals will always mask a mediocre story, just look at the gorgeous Shredder mid credits scene with a mix of purple and black shadows.

Story in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem

However, for as nice as the animation and art style is, the story is a bit mediocre at points. Now I get the vibe they were going for with the coming of age narrative and the Turtles rebelling against Splinter but it just devolved massively by the end of the second act. And that’s because it falls into the trap of both Suicide Squading and most 2010 actions films. By that I mean, it devolves into all the heroes and villains fighting together against one gigantic foe whether or not it actually makes sense within their character’s motivations.

Like would Bebop and Rocksteady really be so quick to turn? It does kind of make sense when both incarnations of Rocksteady have been played by WWE wrestlers… Also, the ending fake out of Superfly ‘dying’ only to come back in kaiju form feels very out of place. Also, it only really in the film to pad the runtime and create an artificial moment of the turtles getting help from New York. Now, April can be slightly persuasive but my god the rate at which every New Yorker sided with the Turtles was more random than the fact Splinter forgot he grounded the Turtles for being disobedient. It’s a shame because what started out promising turned into a homogenised mess by the end.

Performances in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem

On a much more positive note, there’s some terrific vocal performances, especially from Jackie Chan and, weirdly enough: Ice Cube. Now, a big part of what makes Chan’s performance so much fun is that he’s presented as a good, if slightly overbearing, father to the Turtles. Insert relevant joke about Jackie Chan as a parent here… However, he’s frequently a comedic highlight like when he’s impersonating a cardboard cutout of Chris Pine. Or pretending to be a waiter. Or when he rescues the Turtles from being, *ahem*, milked. Well, no guesses as to who suggested that joke, cough Seth Rogen…. Anyway, not everything about his performance is perfect, as his romantic arc sort of gets lost in the shuffle. Genuinely, I forgot about it entirely by the time he’s making out with a mutant fly.

Now, when it comes to Ice Cube’s performance, yes everything he says sounds angry but it’s very entertaining. Just look at his introduction properly when he meets the Turtles. The fact they introduce him as fairly jovial and happy to see more mutants is actually quite wholesome. Well, if you ignore the whole destroying humanity thing…. Also, you can tell how much fun Ice Cube was having as he actually makes heaps of exposition sound quite funny sheerly through the angriness in his voice. Also, that just makes Superfly’s anger feel more real, mostly because Ice Cube can make even the nicest thing sound angry. 


To summarise Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem, this is a fun and artistically impressive reintroduction to the Heroes in the Half Shell. While it does struggle with a lacklustre script at times, the vocal performances, art style and animation are more than enough to carry the film. Also, the tease of Shredder is never a bad thing. Man, who knew the key to making a good Ninja Turtles film was binning Michael Bay for Seth Rogen?

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 –  Good

Target Audience: 8+

Content Warning: Mild Violence and Gore, Mild Profanity, Mild Frightening and Intense Scenes

Recommendation: Yes