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Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – “The turtles give a shell of a ride.”

There have been plenty of iterations of the four mutated turtles and their rat father, but this version leans into the teenage element the most. Chaotic and filled with more pop culture references (old and new) than you can handle, the turtles give a shell of a ride.

The turtle personalities remain true to their film origins – references to the gritty original comic do make their way through but this is firmly a kid-friendly film. Leonardo as the responsible leader, tries to keep his brothers Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael away from the human world, fearing they won’t be accepted. Their father Splinter – voiced by a hilarious Jackie Chan – is the biggest fear monger.

Splinter’s fear of the humans leads him to be very strict. Teaching the turtles martial arts for self-defence by watching instructional videos and of course Jackie Chan films. I suppose they ignored the “don’t try this at home” warnings.

The teens eventually come up with a scheme to save the city with their new friend April O’Neil from the evil Superfly (voiced by Ice Cube). Together they have a lot of fun and jokes, which are well written and keep the characters believable.

Writers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez, and Benji Samit give the film a youthful charm and keep the script tight. A reference to a popular anime is treated as a throwaway gag only for it to payoff at the climax. Jeff Rowe directs, building on his experience on cartoons Gravity Falls and Disenchantment; though the influence from the recent Spider-verse films are evident on the art style (for the better).

Mutant Mayhem is a very fun film. Brisk and entertaining, with plenty of martial arts and gags to throw at the audience. While the constant pop culture references may begin to grate, you’ll have forgiven the film by the time the mid-credit scene rolls round. A great example of why fans keep coming to see more turtle power.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is in cinemas on 31st July 2023.

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