Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review
By Vincent Latigue
Photo: Still from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (dir. Jeff Rowe)
Credit: Paramount Pictures
If you’re looking for a movie to drop your kids off at, look no further. With an ensemble cast that phoned in their performances and a plot that has already been done a million and one times, this movie is sure to entertain long-time fans of the franchise as well as newcomers eager to watch a low-maintenance film that doesn’t require any active attention on the part of the viewer. The story follows four siblings who want to experience everything New York City and the world has to offer them, but are forced to stick to the shadows because of the way society treats those who it deems different. Upon a chance encounter with a student journalist, the turtles uncover a plot that could dash their hopes of ever fitting into society. With only an hour and a half runtime, this film knows not to overstay its welcome. Accompanying the relatively short runtime is an art style that pops off the screen with vibrant colors and gives life to the characters that inhabit this bizarro version of New York.
With a cast that includes Giancarlo Esposito, Jackie Chan, Maya Rudolph, and Ayo Edebiri, it comes as quite the surprise that the stand-out performance belongs to Ice Cube, who carries the film with his electrifying rendition of Superfly, the villain that the turtles must square up against if they want to save their home and gain acceptance from humanity at large. With the help of Edebiri’s April O’Neil, the turtles learn that not all humans are bad, and she helps others to see that there is nothing to fear from the teenage mutant ninja turtles. Stop me if this sounds familiar. The soundtrack is unremarkable and is filled with the latest hits and references to the best of 90s hip-hop, including "Can I Kick It" by A Tribe Called Quest, "Brooklyn Zoo" by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and "Sweet Premium Wine" by KMD and MF DOOM.
This leads to my major problem with the movie. Nothing seemed unique to the film. From the multitude of movie references to the overused soundtrack to the by-the-numbers plot that ensured that you could say you’ve seen the movie without seeing the movie, the entire experience felt like a waste of time. There is something to be said for a film that seems to copy and paste its entire existence from other properties entirely. Disappointing. Disappointing not just in how characters and series from the past get resurrected just to be treated as product placement, but disappointing in how it only seems like it’ll continue. There are already plans for a sequel, and a television series as well. The movie has only been out for a little over a month and is already available to stream on your preferred platform of choice. What am I getting at here? Simple. The idea that cinema is not allowed to stand on its own anymore. Everything is a part of an ever-expanding multimedia cinematic universe that forever expands. It becomes so overwhelming at times that I can’t stand it. At this point I only have one question to ask: Can I kick it?