Did the world really need a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie though? After getting free tickets to the Premier screening of the Seth Rogen influenced Jeff Rowe directed new animated version of our favourite renaissance-themed crime fighters on Sunday at Blue Route, the answer is a resounding: YES!!!
Most of you by now know the basic story:
After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.
Heroes with a Half-Shell
To start with, i think this is the best movie i have seen this year so far [although i am still to catch Oppenheimer and the new Wes Anderson so there might be some competition! Watch this space!] and i really think they got a number of key elements right.
- My mate Brad Spaans who came to watch this with me pointed this out beforehand, but i think he is spot on, that they used young people to voice the turtles rather than celebs and so the genuine teenagerness was felt throughout the movie which added to the fun. Nicolas Cantu [Leonardo], Micah Abbey [Donatello], Brady Noon [Raphael], and Shamon Brown Jr. [Michaelangelo] are not names most of us would recognise but helped to counter the distraction that known voices in the key roles might have created. [Actually there is an excellent interview with Seth Rogen where he speaks about how the teenage part of TMNT was always the most unexplored, which you can see here!]
- But then Jackie Chan as Splinter was a masterclass as he largely stole the show when he was on screen [that kiss though!] and then having known legends like Rogen, John Cena, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne and more in supporting roles – and with an excellently creepy Ice Cube as the chief villain – helped to add to the fun.
- The soundtrack was absolutely incredible, with the tiniest of winks to Vanilla Ice himself with a short cameo of Ninja rap being snuck in. In fact the movie was littered with cultural nods and winks to other classic movies and Ninja Turtle moments with even Ferris Bueller’s Day Off having some screen time to let the oldies know this one is for them [yes, i am said oldie! Sh!]
- Having a Black April ‘O Neill [Ayo Edebiri] was really cool. Especially as she had her own identity issues she was working through [spoiler alert: puke girl – and possibly the first and only time that puke seen on the big screen is funny, in my opinion at least. They somehow managed that!] as the turtles were trying to figure out themselves, led to a multi-layered story as the different players slowly learned to trust each other and conquer their biggest fears as the story progressed.
- The look and feel of the animation felt so fresh with it somehow feeling like it had elements of both Anime and the recent Spiderverse movies as well as a hint of a Wallace and Gromit plasticine look about the turtles. All in all leaving it feel like something fresh and unique which is really hard to achieve in 2023!
To be honest, the only mis-step of the movie for me was such a small one and without wanting to give too much away, had to do with a bit of a bizarre over-the-top metamorphosis that takes place towards the end of the movie, but even within that, running-away-single-horse [only those who have seen it will know] was absolutely hilarious and the way that the community rallies in their attempts at taking down the big fly… um guy… were really creative and heart-warming and amazing to watch.
i absolutely LOVED this film and can’t wait for the sequel they hinted at in the mid-credits scene [DON’T LEAVE THE CINEMA!!!] where those in the know will have recognised who they are setting up as the villain for the next part of the story! Kid-friendly, adult-friendly and just a whole package of fun.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will be releasing this Friday, 11 August. Do not miss out…