HOLLYWOOD—What can I say about the iconic action figure and cartoon series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” It was my childhood. I grew up with the characters, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael. I knew the sidekicks, Splinter and reporter April O’Neil, and I was well aware of the baddies including Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Braxter and so many more. I had the toys, I played with the toys on countless hours, I wanted to be one of the turtles, each one taking the spot of another at one point in my life.
There has been countless iterations of the iconic characters on the big screen, with live-action versions in the 90s, new entries in the 2000s and now an animated version, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” This flick was so much fun. Why? The visual effects used for this movie is unlike anything I have ever seen on the big screen. I loved the special effects in the most recent “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” but even that flick feels a bit dated compared to the technology used here.
It immerses you into the movie in a way that not many animated flicks can do. When you see something that you have never seen before it grabs your attention in a way never imagined. The opening is great, as the audience immediately gets an idea as to how the turtles become the evolved creatures they are. I will note: if you’re expecting the big bad to be Shredder, you would be greatly disappointed.
The big bad is portrayed by a woman named, Cynthia Utrom (voice of Maya Rudolph) who has an ax to grind with the turtles, but she didn’t expect other evolved creatures, including Superfly who is also determined to destroy all humans. If I wasn’t told it was Maya Rudolph, I wouldn’t have known it and her voice is quite thrilling. Jackie Chan is the voice of Splinter the iconic Kung-Fu fighting rat that is the parent of the turtles, while Ayo Edebiri is the voice of (April O’Neil).
Donatello (voice of Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (voice of Shamon Brown Jr.), Raphael (voice of Brady Noon) and Leonardo (voice of Nicolas Cantu) are a cohesive unit and work together well. Yes, it is an animated movie, but you feel like these characters could totally be a family in real life. Ice Cube had me dying laughing as the voice of Superfly. The dialogue on this character was iconic and just left me in stitches. Other notable actors voicing characters include Seth Rogen as the voice of Bebop, John Cena as the voice of Rocksteady, Rose Byrne as the voice of Leatherhead, Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of Baxter Stockman and Paul Rudd as the voice of Mondo Gecko.
The casting by the filmmakers on this one is spot on. The flick was not just great because it brought nostalgia for many adults; it is something entertaining for the kids as well. I had small expectations going into this movie, and came out quite surprised with the result. I’ll be adding “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” to my movie collection, not just for a fun story, but for a visual spectacle I haven’t seen in a while in an animated flick that excels. Don’t leave the theater before the mid-credits because a nifty scene will have you throwing two thumbs up with an appearance from an iconic character that I cannot wait to see.