Of all the cinematic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles iterations that we’ve got in the past, there was only one animated one. However, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem seems to embrace their comic book origins with colorful illustrative storytelling that bursts with heart and humor. And now the newest trailer puts that on full display.
As a new telling of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story, we get to see a reimagining that feels fresh and contemporary while also true to the spirit of the original. Our titular heroes are looking for a community where they can be accepted for who they are. And as a couple of troublemaking kids, they find themselves doing the things any kids would do, with a bit of ninjitsu flair. They record themselves throwing ninja stars at watermelons, they eat pizza, and sometimes they break the rules. While Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) rats them out, Splinter (Jackie Chan) takes offense to Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.) using that word in that context, considering that he is a bipedal rat.
But as the trailer progresses, we get to see some of the heart the film will have. Leo, Raphael (Brady Noon), Donatello (Micah Abbey), and Michelangelo spent their entire lives in the sewers during the daytime and walk the streets of New York at night. So they dream of what it would be like when they could walk amongst humans. They want to go to high school and have a girlfriend, but surrender to the fact that they won’t be able to, considering what they look like. But, of course, not all humans are like that, as they befriend April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri). She tells them about criminals breaking into armored cars. So our heroes believe that if they can stop them, they will be hailed as heroes and accepted for who they are. But they feel conflicted about their mission when they find out that the criminal is actually a mutant like themselves who leads a league of other mutants who look just like them.
“Humans are never going to like us,” Superfly tells our heroes. “So we are going to let the mutants rule the earth.” That puts a slight twist on the usual heroes stopping the villain story.
The visual storytelling is the film’s biggest selling point, with much of the animation taking its inspiration from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It uses a wholly unique style that distinguishes itself from the Kevin Eastman comics or any other animated iteration that came before it. And that could be just the thing that makes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem a hit and a great introduction to a new generation of fans.
The rest of the impressive voice talent cast also include Hannibal Buress, Rose Byrne, Nicolas Cantu, John Cena, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Natasia Demetriou, Giancarlo Esposito, Post Malone, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Maya Rudolph.
Directed by Jeff Rowe (in his feature directorial debut), co-directed by Kyler Spears, and written by Rowe, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez, and Benji Samit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in theaters on August 2, 2023.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem:
“After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.