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(film review) - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

It is definitely a surprise to not at all be surprised (when I really think about it) that I went to watch this movie. My earliest memory of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (I am pretty sure they were called "hero" turtles in this foreign market for a while back in my day) was when I vividly remember my mum coming to meet me after school and she was running late, walking towards me with a big Argos bag. I could see through the bag a little and see the Nintendo Entertainment System logo and the outline of the box, I was soo excited. I could not wait to get home, set it up and play the game that came with it, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (the PAL Version of the game was different). Up to this day, I have not completed it and the sound of drowning, I am pretty sure has been implanted in my brain ever since. It's either Sonic, Turtles or Earthworm Jim, the sound I cannot shake. I watched the cartoons and had a T-shirt and possibly jeans too, I loved the Turtles when I was a child, but having watched this movie, I have come to realise in my many years on this planet living, that I am indeed a selective purist. And what I mean by that is, there are some things in life in regards to lore and accuracy regarding characters or IP (in some cases) that will not bother me. I do not subscribe to the nonsensical "woke" rhetoric these people are spewing these days because they do not understand the meaning of the word, but when they change specify characters to appeal to a broader audience, I am not that fussed about it. For example, having Michael B. Jordan as a Johnny Storm and having a black father was interesting. It did not take away from the character of Johnny Storm at all. Potentially, more black people went to see the film because of it, representation, it matters. In that version of the Fantastic Four they were adopted, so...why not. What about Johnny Storm must be blonde haired and blue eyed? Nothing! However, having a white person play the Black Panther (for example) is simply nonsensical and would not make a bit of sense at all; do you get my drift? The character of the Black Panther is intrinsically linked to who he is and where he comes from. So having a black April O'Neil was ok-ish, meh. Making her a teen, was ok-ish, meh. But the Turtles and some of the other characters, I actually do not know how I honestly feel about the changes they made. But did I enjoy the film overall? Yes!!!! I bloody well did.

This story revolves around the Turtles, Leonardo (the leader), Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael who are teens who live in the sewer with their Rat father figure, Splinter. Splinter took the Turtles into his care and raised them to whom they are and warned them to stay away from humans because humans will not accept them and will most likely hate them for what they are. But when the Turtles stumble across a budding reporter named April O'Neil, the Turtles also discover that not only are there good humans out there, there is a bad guy who has a devious plan to change the world as they know it and that they are not alone in this world as they had first thought.

They took creative liberties with this franchise, but there is an argument to be made that, the Turtles as a franchise has been going for almost 40 years with soo many different incarnations, how can they differentiate between this story and the twenties of others; make creative choices. And creative choices, they made. I cannot say I agreed with all of them, but so what. The film was still good, in my eyes. It has only been in the last few months, I have found out that the lore to the Turtles is extensive. There is a 5th and 6th turtle, Venus and Jennika, in whom I think are girls, I remember there is a rabbit with a sword or something named Usagi, so seeing a lot of other characters in this film was a breath of fresh air, honestly.

I believe having actual teens than a bunch of twenty to thirty something's voice act the characters was also great and refreshing. The turtles felt like teens. They acted like teens. They thought like teens. They behaved just like teens to a point where, Splinter does something and the turtles completely abandon him with not a care in the world. Not to be spiteful, hurtful or inconsiderate, but teens for the most part have not a care in the world and can be caught up in just being a teen, the world at large among other things, so being an adult who is old enough to have teens, I felt sad for Splinter and I personally felt hurt. The voice acting was superb. I actually think this may be my first voice acting work from Ice Cube I have heard, and he was just phenomenal. He has a voice and sound that is very distinguishable immediately and his voice gave his character a lot of weight. It fit and it felt natural. He needs to do more voice acting.

The art direction was bizarre, different, but very very cool and unique. Other than possibly, the turtles and Splinter, nothing really seemed perfectly drawn. The finish was a slight unfinished look with most of the characters oddly drawn or as if they were drawn by a teenager. While some might think the art style is close to the Spider-Verse movies, it really is not, so in a way, that was also refreshing. At times, the drawn characters almost looked like claymation.

While the storyline is something we have seen a thousand times, the creative decisions and directions taken simply lent itself to be a great watch especially when you factor in the music. Whilst I felt it was very hip-hop heavy, it did not feel as forced like the recent Transformers movie, 'Rise of the Beasts'. All in all, great movie. While I did not particularly like some of their choices due to the purist in me, a sequel could lend itself to being really good especially if they bring in loads more characters. I want to see more characters, only because I recently found out about them, but also a spin on the villains would be another great edition. Maybe the Turtles could be six of them and they could write that into the backstory somehow. This would definitely differentiate it from previous incarnations in a very good and inclusive way. Yes, there will be some backlash, but who cares...write the characters well and people will get over it. Maybe the sequel can be the Empire Strikes Back of the Mutant Mayhem Franchise. Come talk to me Seth, I got ideas man!


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