Like a lot of people my age, I was a die hard Ninja Turtles fan as a kid, and still am to this day. I still have the movies, DVDs of the show, action figures buried in my garage, yadda, yadda, yadda. I could go on all day. Bottom-line: I love the Ninja Turtles. So when I found out there was going to be a revamped live action turtles movie, I got pretty excited. This will be a reboot, and I think the time is right for one. 2007’s animated TMNT was a solid film from the old universe, but it’s time to move on and take the Turtles to a bigger stage. When I found out that Michael Bay was producing, my feelings were…mixed. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this film, and it’s still well over 15 months away. I have a lot to say, so let’s stop being a Michelangelo and wasting time, and let’s get into this whole Turtle debacle.
There are both positives and negatives to Michael Bay’s involvement. Let me be very clear about this: I hate the Transformer movies. I’ll repeat that: I hate the Transformer movies. But the one thing I can say about them is that they were given a big stage, and had a crap load of money behind them. With Bay producing, I can only assume the Turtles will get the same treatment. And my assumptions have already proven to be correct. The film will open on Christmas 2013. That’s a major release date. This logically means the film will get a huge budget, something the Turtles have never really had.
So what are the negatives? Well, it goes back to the Transformer movies. What I detest most about those films is the humor. It’s Jar Jar Binks level comedy. And the Transformers aren’t even supposed to be that funny. With the Turtles already being somewhat comical characters at times, I can only imagine what hijinks Bay will subject my childhood to. Will Michelangelo fart and go, ‘Whoa dudes, looks like I had way too much quac and pepperoni pizza. Cowastinka, dudes!’ Yeah…this is a real possibility. But thankfully, Bay isn’t actually directing. The guy they got however might be worse.
The director for this movie is Jonathan Liebesman. For those who don’t know, Liebesman directed not only my least favorite movie of last year, but one of my least favorite movies of all time: Battle Los Angeles. Filmmaking doesn’t get much worse then this atrocious display. The shaky cam is out of control, and you can’t tell what the hell is going on. Imagine watching a climactic Splinter/Shredder fight, but you can’t even see it because this guy thinks it’s hip and cool to shake the camera while filming (shudder).
Now, thankfully, I saw Wrath of the Titans a few weeks ago, a movie directed by none other than Jonathan Liebesman. While it’s not a great movie by any stretch, the action at least was pretty stellar, but it still had some shaky cam here and there. Hopefully by the time he sits down to direct Ninja Turtles, the shaky cam will be out of his system. But one of the other issues I have with the Transformer movies is that you can’t tell what’s going on in the action either. With Bay and Liebesman working together, I’m obviously nervous.
Those are really my two biggest concerns: Bay’s influence, and the director. But let’s get to the real controversy surrounding this film. Bay confirmed that the Turtles aren’t going to be mutants, but actually aliens from another planet. We all know the original Turtle origin: They are four baby turtles, they fall down a sewer, they get into green radioactive material, and we’re off and running. But now this entire origin is gone as they are supposedly now coming to Earth as aliens. So how do I feel about this change?
I’m not one of these fanboys that constantly complains about things getting changed from the source material. As long as you make it good, I’m happy. In fact, when a story element is kept the same just to please fans, it can be a recipe for disaster. Sometimes you got to change it up. I always use The Dark Knight example for this argument. People flipped out when the entire origin of the Joker was changed from a guy getting doused in chemicals inflicting him with permanent white skin to a guy who has scars and splashes white make-up on his face. Director Christopher Nolan changed the Joker for the better.
But here’s the problem with Ninja Turtles – we aren’t talking about Christopher Nolan…we’re talking about Michael Bay. I’m not concerned with the fact that the Turtle origin is getting revamped, I’m concerned that it’s Michael Bay doing the revamping. But to be honest, this whole alien thing doesn’t concern me as much as the concerns I expressed earlier with the humor and shaky action. I think the alien stuff could actually work. And if I may point out, there was an episode of the original cartoon series where the Turtles visit the Planet of the Turtleoids where they encountered an entire planet of Turtles, and that was a pretty damn good episode. And who knows, with aliens and other planets getting introduced, that could leave the door open for Krang to make an appearance, which is something Turtle fans have been clamoring for to be in a live action movie for years.
At the end of the day, I pray this movie is awesome. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Turtles are this serious property that can be taken to the heights other superheroes like Batman and X-Men have been taken to, but it’s not a dumb, silly concept either, alright! The Ninja Turtles mean a lot to me, and I’m just hoping for something good that keeps the Turtle brand going…and if sucks, I can always pop in the original 1990 classic.