Half Shells, Full Heroes: TMNT Mutant Mayhem

  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT): Mutant Mayhem was directed by Jeff Rowe and released on Aug. 2 with a 96% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  

  The film is a coming-of-age story about the infamous turtles that rose to popularity in the 1980s, but don’t get it twisted— these heroes in a half-shell are not the same versions that your parents watched.

  This rendition of the turtles is much different than the ones of old, having changed many facets of the story and the characters inside. One of the most notable of these is the redesign of each turtle so that viewers can  better identify them. For example, Raphael is larger than any of the other turtles, and this plays well when combined with  his raging personality and style of charging into fights. This contrasts the  turtles’ old design in which they donned colored bandanas and belt buckles with their initials as the sole way to tell them apart. April O’Neil, a mainstay of the series, has also gone under a serious change. In former iterations, she was depicted as a reporter, but now she is an aspiring journalist, similar to some of Paw Prints Weekly’s staff. Look how that works out! 

  I entered the theater reluctantly, at best expecting a funny spinoff and at worst fearing another failed reboot; yet, I walked out pleasantly surprised, having gained a new thirst to see  more content of these turtles. The movie exceeded my expectations and is definitely going in my top ten this year.

  The movie begins with an exposition of how the turtles came to be, so viewers new to the franchise do not need to worry if they are unfamiliar with the storyline. With a band of mutant villains terrorizing the city, the turtles aim to take them down to earn the respect of humanity so the turtles can be accepted as equals. Throughout the film, the brothers learn to fight as a team; and despite initial objections from their father and the world being against them, they save the day and by the end of the movie, assimilate into high school successfully.

  Overall, the movie felt like a love letter to TMNT fans, incorporating relatively obscure characters from the ’80s and bringing them to the silver screen for a new generation of fans to admire. Being a reboot, it also sheds itself of any need for explanations of prior series, and yet  still has the liberty to reference them for the fanatics of the series who can understand the references. One such hint is the song “Go Ninja” by Vanilla Ice being played briefly, in which fans of the original series note that the song debuted in a 1991 Turtles movie and has been referenced in multiple other Turtles franchises.

  However, one of the very few shortcomings was the use of teenage slang interweaved with regular words. Phrases such as “rizz,” “sus,” and “bacon egg and cheese the ocky way” may drive the point home that these are just teenagers in NYC; but, for me, it ruins the immersive experience in what are supposed to be endearing moments and simply makes me cringe.

  Nonetheless, the one downside  of this movie is immediately countered by its fantastic soundtrack. This tracklist was one of my favorites in recent memory, as it involved a lot of East Coast hip-hop such as “No Diggity” by Blackstreet and “Still Not a Player” by Big Pun. The licensed songs fit well into the NYC ambience , yet the original soundtrack shines through in certain moments, with “Murder the Shreks!” being a beat that has stuck with me. 

  If you stay after the resolution, a mid-credits scene takes place that introduces the most well-known rival of the turtles: the Shredder. Featuring this scene creates more anticipation for the sequel, which has been confirmed to be in the works. A two-season show is also going to be made on Paramount+, from the Paramount streaming service, as a bridge between this film and the sequel when it debuts.

  As an entire viewing experience, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem was a refreshing take on the classic team. With very few low points and a lasting impression on viewers, this movie is perfect for people who grew up with the originals, those who vaguely remember but are lapsed on the series, or even those rare few who have never heard of the team.

  Cowabunga!

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