Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Is The Best Film Adaptation To Date

Who knew that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg could make the best adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The recent film picks up on the sheltered turtles trying to survive the human world. Longing for acceptance from New Yorkers, 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.

This animated reboot has an all-star cast that includes John Cena, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Rose Byre, Paul Rudd, and Maya Rudolph. The series came out to huge critical acclaim and for good reason. Though it didn’t garner an Oscar nomination, Mutant Mayhem is one of the best-animated films to come out of 2023. It defied expectations and brought out the best of the TMNT lore.

The Changes Made A Huge Difference To The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem cast

The decision to base the animation style on Across the Spider-Verse made famous was certainly an interesting one. While it doesn’t particularly pop like Across the Spider-Verse, it’s still an inspired choice that makes for a gorgeous animation. It helps that TMNT has its own style; it’s not trying to copy Across the Spider-Verse because the creators understand that there’s a rich world to pull from the comics. Speaking of changes, the creators emphasized how they wanted to highlight the teenage aspect of these turtles.

This change may feel small, but it’s a huge reason that this film works so well. The past film adaptations have mainly focused on the turtles being the badass martial arts heroes of New York City. It stripped the personality out of the series because a big part of their identity is being teenagers. That means they have the wants and desires that normal teenagers have. Their plight of wanting to be accepted by the humans of New York City is reliable. It gives these characters depth beyond their notable personality traits and expands the world of TMNT in fascinating ways.

The changes also fit for the modern era of superheroes. The fact that these turtles got their elite fighting skills from a DVD fits with the spirit of the series. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was originally a satire of real superhero comics, and bringing that back separates them from all of the other superhero films on the market.

The Story Is Engaging And Well Written

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Is The Best Film Adaptation To Date

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

The story is never dull and I love the parallels between the heroes and villains. Though there were teases, it was refreshing that this wasn’t another Shredder or Kraang arc. The Turtles and Superfly having the same desires allowed the audiences to get to know him and his ragtag band of villains. Plus, it allowed the filmmakers to fully flesh out the characterization of its huge roster of villains.

Overall, the story is rather simple, but this wasn’t just another generic, “I want to take over the world” bad guy. Superfly was nicely developed throughout the feature, though admittedly, some of his more colorful personalities like Bebop and Rocksteady didn’t get the shine that they should’ve gotten. Still, the villains were a fun diversion for the first film. The protagonists were nicely laid out as well. While I could’ve done without the April O’Neil vomiting angle, they did stay true to her character otherwise.

Master Splinter was the most interesting deviation. Usually, his character comes from a martial arts background, but here, he’s simply a sewer rat who grew up on the streets of New York City. With that sort of past, it would’ve been great if he was more involved with the Superfly story as more layers could’ve come out of his fear of humans, but this version of Splinter was entertaining regardless. To deviate from the traditional grandmaster trope was a bold move, but it gave a new perspective on his character that still respected the lore of TMNT.

The Best Film Adaptation To Date

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Is The Best Film Adaptation To Date

The film adaptations have always struggled to properly translate the TMNT series. The classic comics have plenty of great television shows to pick from, but it’s slim pickings when it comes to the movies. It was a wise decision to do animation. The live-action films felt fake and ugly in some ways. However, animation allows the characters and world to be more expressive and lively. Mutant Mayhem isn’t the greatest animated film you’ll ever see, but it’s certainly one of the best of the modern generation. It understands the lore behind it and takes bold risks that honor the comics, yet opens a new chapter in this fascinating world. Hopefully, the sequel can live up to the high standards the first film set.

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