Across The Spider-Verse’s Success Helped Make TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Possible

“[‘Spider-Verse’] convinced studios that you can make money, win awards and be successful,” said “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” writer/director Jeff Rowe in an interview for the latest issue of Total Film magazine. 

As Rowe points out, a big part of the visual language of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is the way it approximates a teenager’s sketchbook, with every surface of the 3D animated film resembling hand-drawn sketches, from the VFX to the world itself, with vehicles and furniture and more all covered in sketched-out lines, aiding in enhancing the film’s teenage attitude. 

“We looked at drawings we all did when we were in high school — the way you sketch things before you know how to draw. And we were like, ‘That’s a really cool technique. We should make the movie look like that, and then spend millions of dollars to make it look really slick and professional!'” 

That’s the paradox at the heart of “Mutant Mayhem.” This is a film that simultaneously looks “slick and professional,” but also aesthetically imperfect, like a teenager’s drawings. Every character could be considered ugly compared to many other studio-animated movies, from the human characters to the many mutants in the film to the turtles themselves, who finally get unique designs that differentiate each and every one of them. You no longer have to go by bandana color or weapon choice, but the audience can instantly recognize each turtle by their body type and personality.

As Rowe added, “We have so many mutants in the movie, and we’re really using the capabilities of animation to deliver on these unhinged character designs.” He’s right — as we’ve seen in the trailers, even when you meet familiar characters, they are not exactly what you might remember.

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