TMNT Mutant Mayhem – Review

The TMNT franchise, created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, has been a part of our world for almost 40 years now. Created in 1984, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began as a dark graphic novel, dark and angsty, drawn with a ham-fisted art style that made the original comics appear as though they came straight out of a sketchbook. “Mutant Mayhem,” directed by Jeff Rowe, is a reimagining of the franchise—stylized and modernized for a new generation, yet retaining much of the grit and texture of the original comic books. With the Michael Bay interpretations now 7 years in the rearview mirror, our heroes in a half shell were ripe for a brand revival.

The Art Style

There’s a lot to discuss about this movie, with the artistic direction being first on our list. The art style is simply gorgeous. Jeff Rowe, along with the talents of Mikros Animation and Cinesite Vancouver, have created what feels like an art exhibit masked as a children’s film. Throughout the movie, you’ll find yourself pondering, “Is this a 3D movie or a 2D movie?” The answer isn’t immediately obvious. The rough edges give the film a guerilla art vibe reminiscent of NYC streets. If this new style is the future of computer animation, it shines brightly through “Mutant Mayhem.”

The Characters

The Turtles are affectionately modeled after teenagers, complete with gangly, disproportionate bodies, and the young actors truly excel in their roles. Splinter, the Turtles’ father figure and mentor, voiced by Jackie Chan, takes on a more central role in this film. While he remains the homebody of previous iterations, Splinter’s story arc is more deeply explored, becoming a pivotal focus of the story. Unfortunately, the other mutants are less developed. Beyond a sudden entrance and brief introductions, much of the star-studded cast feels underutilized—a concern given the vast number of characters. Here’s hoping the sequels allow these other mutants the spotlight they deserve.

The Story

The narrative offers a safe and fun buddy adventure. Although deeper themes—like adolescence, acceptance, and growth—are touched upon, the bulk of the movie mainly offers a surface-layer tale of teenagers gallivanting through NYC and the ensuing hijinks.

The Music

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross scored the movie. Yes, THAT Trent Reznor. Who would’ve guessed in 1997 that the metal/industrial pioneer of Nine Inch Nails fame would score a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Even more surprising is how perfectly it meshes. Reznor’s score introduces a hard and gritty edge that resonates with NYC’s rough backdrop, bestowing this “kids’ movie” with a dose of underground street credibility.


Overall, this movie is more than just good. Within the TMNT ecosystem, it stands out as exceptional. The avant-garde art style, offbeat humor, and stylized soundtrack blend seamlessly to produce a cohesive end product. Here’s hoping that any sequel will further delve into these freshly carved narratives, and we can all eagerly anticipate where they might lead.

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