A fresh approach: Seth Rogen finally gives the world a good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie

By Bob Grimm

Somebody finally gets it right at bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the movies—and that somebody would be writer-producer Seth Rogen (along with his frequent partner, Evan Goldberg).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem goes with stylish animation (there are no live actors) and starts from the beginning, telling the origin story of the turtles. This time, the turtles are voiced by actual teenagers, and the story features some teen angst to go with the ninja stars and pizza. The film is relatively fun—and easily the best take yet on the beloved tortoises.

Rogen and company have gathered a terrific voice cast, including Jackie Chan as Splinter the ninja rat, and Ice Cube having a blast as Superfly. Cube’s villainous turn as Superfly has a good shot at being the funniest vocal/animated performance of the year. Listen carefully, and you’ll also hear Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph and Rogen himself, among others.

The turtles are voiced by a spirited cast of young men who give them a vibe fresher than incarnations past. (Eat your heart out, Corey Feldman.) The voice actors actually make Raphael (Brady Noon), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Donatello (Micah Abbey) and Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) far more than cartoon characters—they all have real dimension and heart.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide the perfect soundscape, and the soundtrack includes one of my all-time favorites, the He-Man version of “What’s Up?” I honestly never thought I would hear that in a movie.

Visually, the film owes a lot to the Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse series, and that’s a good thing.

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