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How the ‘Spider-Verse’ Movies Have Changed Animation for the Better

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When “TMNT,” a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated film, was released in 2007, the critic Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in The New York Times that it offered “an impressive lack of visual texture.” She was not wrong. The eponymous reptiles are rendered in an inert computer-generated form, as if they were modeled from plastic and then put on a screen. Their green skin is dull and smooth.

The same cannot be said for the turtles in the latest incarnation of the ooze-filled tale: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” In this new film, released Wednesday, our heroes — Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael — appear to spring from a (talented) high school doodler’s notebook. Their bodies and faces are rendered with an imperfect sketchy quality that makes their eyes vivid and their smiles vibrant. Their greenness is distinctive and gains extra contours when reflected in New York’s neon lights.

“Mutant Mayhem,” directed by Jeff Rowe, is representative of a larger shift that has occurred in the 16 years since “TMNT” was released. It’s part of a…

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