Haunted Mansion Review

 Ready for a little spookiness in August? I'll be honest the desire to throw on a jumper, buy pumpkins and embrace all things spooky has hit me early this year, mainly due to the depressing summer weather here in the UK. But something still feels slightly off about releasing a ghost movie in the middle of summer but that is exactly what Disney have done with Haunted Mansion. Haunted Mansion is the second film of its name release by Disney, The Haunted Mansion (Rob Minkoff, 2003) was my go-to childhood scary movie, although there is no link between the two films. It is also the second film to be based on a Disney ride, the first being the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The ride features at five Disney Parks, under three names: The Haunted Mansion, Phantom Manor and Mystic Manor, and the film makes numerous nods to the dark ride. So, join me foolish mortals on a journey to the Haunted Mansion.  Haunted Mansion's opening act is perfect, scary and full of mystery. As we open

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Review

The summer of 2023 has already seen three huge summer hits, Barbie (Greta Gerwig), Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan), and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 (Christopher McQuarrie), so you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was no more to come. But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem - Directed by Jeff Rowe, has entered the competition. Releasing less than two weeks after Barbie and Oppenheimer is a bold move. Only a film that is strong could even dare to compete. So, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem up the challenge? Read on to find out! There will be minor spoilers. 

TMNT started out as a one-shot comic in 1984, however it was so popular that it became a series and since then the four Mutant Turtles have appeared in six movies and five TV shows as well as video games. Which means it's likely that numerous of cinemagoers will have already been exposed to a version of these characters. But want sets this version apart is the Turtles themselves which are voiced by teenagers for the very first time. This has a huge impact on the characters: Donatello (Micah Abbey), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) and Raphael (Brady Noon) who actually feel like real teenage boys. The film fully capturing the relationship between brothers, perfectly exhibiting how cool they think they are - when in reality they are anything but. We often see teen characters acting far above their age, it is refreshing to see an accurate portrayal even if they are Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Narrative wise the film acts as an origin story, yet it feels like the origin story and the sequel all in one. Rather than the film spending a whole act on the brothers training, the film opens with them already highly trained Ninja Turtles. The focus of the story is instead upon their journey from the sewers to the streets. It is a story of acceptance at its very core, because acceptance a universal thing teenagers seek. Making the Turtles believe that acceptance is possible is human teen April O'Neil (Ayo Edebiri), but she has her work cut out for her, everything she believes is possible goes directly against what their adoptive father Splinter (Jackie Chan) has taught them. The villain of the narrative, Superfly (Ice Cube) also faces a battle of acceptance one that has led him down a darker path. The voice cast also features Rose Byrne, John Cena, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph and Post Malone. The overall narrative is rather standard, yet it's fun to watch, easily immersive. 

Where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem really stands out is in its animation style. The film was animated by Mikros Animation and Cinesite. Its style differs to what we have come accustomed to with Disney/Pixar, DreamWorks and Illumination films, taking on a unique visual style. A style that's inspiration lives in sketches, which results in a very teenage look. The style perfectly captures the gritty urban nature of New York City, the most accurate depiction of the city in an aminated movie to date. The style lends itself perfectly to the various action scenes throughout. Two of which scenes particularly stood out to me. The first was a mid-action team up shot, which shows the TMNT in a superhero pose, the visuals combined with the cinematography and the soundtrack create the perfect moment that had me think 'That is really cool'. The second is a fight scene that features Splinter, the filmmakers perfectly animate a Jackie Chan fight, a fight style we have seen countless times in live-action projects. The way the movements, expressions and pauses translate to animation is stunning. 

Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a fun movie with a unique animation style. The film stands up to the box office challenge that is Barbie and Oppenheimer. This is a very strong start for what I am sure will be at least a TMNT trilogy, the characters storylines just beginning. Whether you are a TMNT fan or not this film is a great watch and a perfect summer cinema flick - one that parents will enjoy just as much as their children. 

And make sure you stay once the film has finished there is a sneaking mid-credits scene you won't want to miss!!

Thank you for reading xx