Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem First Reviews: Clever, Visually Distinct, and Irresistible

Critics say the latest iteration of the Heroes in a Half Shell is a lively, faithful adaptation that should thrill longtime fans and easily earn new ones.

by | July 27, 2023 | Comments


Another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot? Yes, well this one is from the makers of The Mitchells vs. the Machines plus Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and the first reviews of the movie indicate it might be the best cinematic version of the property yet. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is being praised for its unique visuals, hilarious script, and youthful casting and story. Most importantly, the animated feature is said to satisfy longtime fans and newcomers to the iconic and radical Ninja Turtles. Cowabunga!

Here’s what critics are saying about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem:

How does Mutant Mayhem compare to other Ninja Turtles movies?

“The best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film yet!” – Zach Pope, Zach Pope Reviews

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem skillfully finds a way to balance heart, action, and comedy in a mind-blowingly gorgeous animation presentation that instantly places it head and shoulders above all other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films to date.” – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

“This CGI-animated effort is the most engaging version I’ve encountered thus far, which bodes well for those who haven’t grown up as TMNT lovers.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“I have to say I found this version of the Turtles to be irresistible.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“It couldn’t be more different from the darker vibe and photorealistic textures seen in the Turtles’ last two theatrical outings.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Just when you thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltes: Mutant Mayhem couldn’t get any better, it does, with some both surprising but very satisfying story choices in the third act that makes the film stand out even more from all the other Turtles stories you’ve seen before.” – Germain Lussier,

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Does it change the characters?

“Rowe’s film marks the first time in the Turtles’ long and storied history that the young heroes have been voiced by actual teenagers… a clever touch that adds real dimensions and emotion to a story, again, about mutant teenage crime-fighters.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Losing some of the bulk and imposing look of some of the past creations of this foursome, they are all truly believable as excited teens looking to find their way in a world they are just beginning to experience.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“The turtles and other mutant animals look cute again.” – Fred Topel, United Press International

“Setting this version apart, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem features a Splinter who is not the sage-like sensei of past incarnations, but a fussy, overprotective dad, traumatized by his interactions with humans.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“These are turtles who grew up with social media, creating memes, and watching twerking videos on TikTok. There are a handful of scenes that made me feel old and out of touch.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Will longtime TMNT fans enjoy it?

“If you grew up on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon show from the ’80s, worshipped the live-action movies from the ’90s, or still could chant the chorus of Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ninja Rap,’ then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is for you.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“They have delivered exactly what you might hope they would, a fiendishly clever, funny, but appropriately faithful take on a brand.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“You feel passion and respect for the franchise bursting off-screen. The movie has confidence in its audience to embrace a few new ideas as well as the tried and true ones.” – Germain Lussier,

“It’s a great introduction for new younger audiences, and at the same time hits older fans with a comforting wave of nostalgia. Even more so, the film leaves plenty of room for the franchise to grow.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Mutant Mayhem handles Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Easter eggs much more subtly than many nostalgic movies… For longtime fans who recognize them, they generate genuine surprise.” – Fred Topel, United Press International

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Are there any standouts in the voice cast?

“Ice Cube steals the entire movie, droppin’ braggadocio verses on the Turtles as he beats them up.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“The casting of Ice Cube is brilliant. He is absolutely dynamic whether Superfly is dropping familiar rap lyrics, hyping up his hybrid siblings, or preaching human annihilation.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“The fact that the young actors voicing the TMNTs were actually teenagers when they recorded their performances infuses a welcome youthful energy to the goings-on.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

How is the animation?

“Similar in look to the Spider-Verse animated films and resembling underground comics in its deliberately rough-hewn character and background designs… vibrantly distinctive visuals that perfectly suit the rambunctious and frequently violent proceedings.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“The scattershot animation feels rough around the edges, stylish, anti-CGI blandness, and visually surprising and satisfying.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“This style brings texture and personality into every frame of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, reminding audiences that there are far more interesting things that can be done with computer animation beyond the bland accuracy of photorealism.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“A rough sketch hand-drawn aesthetic to match the griminess of New York City. The imaginary camera moves with stimulating purpose through 3D space to immerse you in the action set pieces and the world these mutant characters occupy in an exhilarating way.” – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

“The action and animation are all top-notch… You’ll be blown away by what’s on screen.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“The animation takes some getting used to. The kinetic, exaggerated style has some figures looking deformed, but it all comes together and gives the Turtles a fresh, energetic look.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

What about the plot?

“Is [there] a lot of plot? Yes. Is the movie a bit of a mad jumble because of it? Also, yes. But with ‘mayhem’ in the title, what more do you expect?” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“The Turtles have an actual arc… The Turtles’ understanding of themselves becomes a rich story thread the movie pulls on, along with the journey of self-discovery.” – Germain Lussier,

“Eventually, the film settles into predictable plotting, but that doesn’t detract much from its otherwise giddy, witty vibe.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“The storytelling is sloppy.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“It feels like there’s a variation on this script that takes as many risks as the visuals do instead of going predictably from point A to point B in the coming-of-age playbook.” – Brian Tallerico,

Is it funny?

“Unexpectedly funny.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“The dialogue proves consistently amusing (not surprising considering Rogen’s participation).” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“Some of the pop culture references might not age as well as this film deserves, but they’re hilarious for now.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“While the tone and some of the jokes are geared towards people in Rogen’s age range, and thus suits people like me, some of it may fly over the heads of younger children.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“Kids will love the bombastic humor.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“As expected, the humor is skewed toward a younger audience… Not all the humor lands.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“The fact that there’s no potty humor should be taken as a minor victory.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“I’m pretty sure you could ask ChatGPT to write a TMNT script in the style of Seth Rogen and get something just as funny.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

What else does the movie have going for it?

“One of the best 1990s/2000s soundtracks in years.” – Germain Lussier,

“There’s so much to appreciate here, such as the film’s dynamic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, or the needle drops, which aren’t just delightful picks on their own, but integrated into the action with thought and care.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“It also has lots of heart.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

Image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Any major criticisms?

“A quibble is that Rowe, Rogen, et al skate around the refined humanist mystery of their names… a shame. Perhaps the sequel can take us to the Uffizi in Florence.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“Considering Rogen’s participation as both a writer and actor, it’s surprising that Mutant Mayhem plays it so safe.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“The mixture of teenage coming-of-age and gloomy mutant brawl doesn’t vibe all that well.” – Jimmy Cage, Jimmy Cage Movie Reviews

“If anything feels out of sync, it’s the way in which life in the year 2023 doesn’t immediately integrate with aspects of the original premise.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“Unfortunately, there might be one mutant too many in this expansive roster.” – Evan Valentine,

“Most damagingly, as ridiculous as this may sound, we really don’t learn enough about the turtles, who are reduced to one or two traits as they’re pushed along the action track of the movie.” – Brian Tallerico,

Could it be one of the best movies of the year?

“In a year that’s already given us unforgettable animation with films like Nimona, Elemental, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is right up there. It’s a near-perfect movie.” – Germain Lussier,

“One of the year’s best-animated feature films.” – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in theaters everywhere on August 2, 2023.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.