Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, released in the final stretch of the 2023 summer blockbuster season, has left critics pleasantly surprised. The Guardian hailed it as “unexpectedly funny,” and the Times noted that “these heroes in a half-shell aren’t half bad.” While the reviews generally leaned towards three and four stars, critics acknowledged that the movie exceeded their low expectations.
Rotten Tomatoes aggregated the reviews, resulting in an impressive 97% score, reflecting overwhelmingly positive reactions from critics. Kevin Maher from the Times praised the film for being a solid addition to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, despite some mission creep towards the end, when it reverts to familiar superhero territory. Still, he admitted that it’s a far cry from the relentlessly awful films of the past.
The movie brings back the beloved turtles, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo, voiced by a talented cast including Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr, Brady Noon, and Nicolas Cantu. Additional characters are voiced by Ice Cube, Rose Byrne, and Jackie Chan, who portrays Master Splinter.
Critics, like Robbie Collin from the Telegraph, expressed astonishment that this animated take from Nickelodeon Movies not only manages to be tolerable but also stands on its own merits as a thrilling and visually dynamic piece of pop art. The film crackles with energy and color, capturing the essence of teenage exuberance.
Mutant Mayhem tells the story of the Turtles’ quest to integrate into human society after years of isolation. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, known for Amazon’s The Boys, wrote and produced the film.
Clarisse Loughrey from the Independent praised the movie for blending reverence for the franchise’s past with contemporary sensibilities, citing the successful take on Spider-Verse aesthetics. The film’s decision to cast actual youngsters as the voices of the turtles proves inspired, allowing the actors to showcase their comedic talents and chemistry.
Though Geoffrey Macnab from iNews found some elements clunky and the zaniness overwhelming in its feature-length format, most critics agreed that Mutant Mayhem is a jubilant and action-packed nostalgia trip. The animation’s impressive visuals impressed Dulcie Pearce of the Sun, while Variety’s Peter Debruge recognized the movie’s primary goal as delivering pure fun and enjoyment to both younger and long-time fans.
Despite some reservations about the lack of depth in exploring the turtles’ names, the film’s humor won the hearts of many. Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was hailed as irresistible, the best TMNT movie to date, and a rowdy good time, according to Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter.