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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ 4k UHD (Blu-ray review)

Paramount

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always been on the edge of my pop culture knowledge.

I had friends who read the comics, loved the movies (yes, even the one with Vanilla Ice), and played the TMNT video games, but somehow I missed all of it. I couldn’t tell you which Turtle is who if you offered me 1 million dollars. I am definitely a newb to the franchise. I came into viewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem with only bits and pieces I picked up through cultural osmosis.

I have to say, I loved this film!

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’s lean 87 minutes flies by. It is packed with a solid story, great characters, and a heaping helping of chewy moral goodness.

The viewer is given just enough origin story to give newbies like me context and then dives into the boys’ current life.

The four brothers are your typical teenagers; struggling to figure out how they fit in, wanting to be cool, and rebelling against their helicopter parent. Same as all kids, except they are turtles living in a sewer with an ancient rat trying to stop a murderous, mutant fly and his gang of mutants from destroying the world.

First off, hats off to the excellent casting.

I am always a little leary when young actors are cast. It’s a fine line between charming, exuberant youth, and cringy, obnoxious brats. The four young actors that make up the Turtles knock it out of the park. They are distinct and charismatic in their own ways making the team relatable to our own teenage experiences.

The supporting cast is a Who’s Who in the comedian goldmine. It is fun to hear Jackie Chan hamming it up as the team’s father figure and ninjutsu master, Splinter. Ice Cube brings his kid-friendly, tongue-in-cheek nod to Blaxploitation anti-heroes of the 70s as the villain, Superfly.

Superfly’s gang is a rogues’ gallery of Turtle villains voiced by a stable of Seth Rogen alums.

One of the biggest changes from the original is the update to reporter April O’Neil. Ayo Edebiri shines as a no-nonsense April. This reimagined version of April does a lot of heavy lifting to bring the latest version of TMNT, changing April from a thin, white woman on the sidelines to a curvy, Black teenager who is pivotal in the Turtles’ success.

I am a huge fan of animated films, everything from Anime to stop-motion animation.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem style stands apart from the endless Disney/Marvel animation machine. TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’s combination of loose, sketchy oil pastels-like-on-black-canvas, mixed with 3D animation that looks like Aardman Studios on crack. It creates a unique look that sets the Turtles apart. The camera work and the editing lend to the loose free-flowing vibe.

Extras include a few light featurettes.

My viewing partner for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was an old-school fan. He collected Eastman’s and Laird’s comics back in the day and has followed the Turtles ever since. I thought a film that would appeal to a newcomer like me would be revolting to a “true” fan.

Surprisingly, my partner was cheering right there with me.

A good gauge that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will please both old and new fans.

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