Never imagined saying “Donatello is my fave!”, yet here we are.
In their clever move to balance out the traditional “Michaelangelo and the other three” appeal of the Turtles (not to mention their decisive disassociation from the more recent “live action” films), writers Brendan O’Brien, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jeff Rowe – together with the fantastic performances from Shamon Brown Jr, Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, and (above all for me) Micah Abbey (as Donatello) – have made the Turtles actual (and crucially, early) teen boys: sweet, goofy brothers, in a sweet, goofy adventure.
Mutant Mayhem‘s affection for its source material really shows in both its loyalties and updates to it. The violence of the original comics and the high camp of the ’80s cartoon series, share screen time with the Turtles experiencing FOMO on their mobile phones, a slightly revised origin story where Splinter (Jackie Chan) and his adopted sons learn martial arts from VHS instructional videos, and the reimagining of April O’Neil as a nerdy teenage black girl – which provides both a sly comment on the otherness she finds in common with the Turtles, and a showcase for effervescent Ayo Edibiri.
The animation style takes its lead from the Spider–Verse, but feels less comic-booky than teenager-sketchbook-scribbly, and at times surprisingly three-dimensional. The soundtrack combines ’90s hip-hop (how on Earth does that even sound to little kids these days – retro, entirely otherworldy?) with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (because where can you not find them doing a soundtrack these days? Geez).