Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Will It Be Terrible?
The trailer for Michael Bay's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie exploded onto the Internet last week, delighting audiences across the world with the borderline fetal facial features of our heroes in a half shell. However, the question on everyone's mind -- as is the case with every film Michael Bay is involved with -- is WILL IT BE TERRIBLE?
The Story: Has Been Rewritten Four Times
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has gone through more rewrites than a freaking novel. At one point, the titular green heroes weren't even going to be teenage, mutants, or turtles. They were going to be ninja aliens (but then, for the first time in his entire career, Michael Bay came to his senses).
Note that the world was in the midst of a record rate of large scale cocaine busts.
The first draft of the movie was a gritty origin story written by the same guy who wrote Young Guns and Hidalgo, so we can only assume that in this version of the film the turtles were a mischievous band of troublemaking outlaws and the Shredder was an evil rancher. Paramount decided that script was "too edgy" (which is industry speak for "Michelangelo gets high on bath salts and eats his own face"), so they commissioned a rewrite from the two storytelling heavyweights responsible for Now You See Me, the Woody Harrelson movie about fake magicians. Finally, they brought in the guy who wrote Snow White and the Huntsman to do one last polish. So, four different writers, collectively responsible for some of the most forgettable films ever produced, whipped up a new Ninja Turtles movie for us.
In fairness, the original TMNT movie from 1990 was written by two guys whose biggest credits were The Wonder Years and one episode of The Jeffersons. So it's not like this new outing is a huge step down.
The Cast: Whoopi and White Shredder
"Whoopi Goldberg is in the new Ninja Turtles movie" is not a sentence the universe ever expected anyone to say, but there it is. On top of that, Whoopi is the most recognizable and accomplished actor in the film. The turtles are played by a bunch of unknowns, the Shredder (a thoroughly Japanese character) is being played by a white American, and April O'Neil, the turtles' stalwart pet human, is portrayed by Megan Fox, because apparently calling Michael Bay "Hitler" only gets you banned from one Transformers sequel.
They were able to sneak her in when they realized Michael Bay hasn't looked a woman in the face since '97.
But again, the original movie didn't have any big names in it either. The most famous actor in that film is Sam Rockwell, and he plays a nameless thug who spent his blip of screen time shilling cigarettes for the Foot Clan.
The Director: Gritty as Trucker Shit
While everyone (including the film's trailer) is crediting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Michael Bay, Bay didn't actually direct the film. He's only a producer, meaning he beat people with stacks of money until they agreed with all of his "creative input." The guy directing this new Turtles affair is a man named Jonathan Liebesman, whose filmography consists of shitty horror movies and tone-deaf 3D action movies.
Not even the first Chainsaw and Titans remakes. Their sequels.
It seems like a really strange choice until you realize that Liebesman was hired back when Ninja Turtles was supposed to be a gritty reboot. After they changed the angle, they simply forgot to change the director as well.
However, we must once again remind ourselves that this isn't exactly a huge departure for the series -- the original was a Jim Henson puppet movie directed by whoever was responsible for the terrible sci-fi romance Electric Dreams.
Nostalgia: Is Michael Bay Slaying Our Childhood Yet Again?
Michael Bay often gets accused of murdering childhoods, what with the billion-dollar bullshit festival that is the Transformers series. However, if there is one property on this planet that was never meant to be taken seriously, it is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is a series of cartoons, comics, and action figures about a quartet of humanoid turtles fighting karate robots, eating pizza, and using the antiquated slang of skateboarding high school dropouts from the 1980s (even the original comic book was itself a parody of Frank Miller's absurdly gritty noir revival of Daredevil). Sure, the new trailer looks goofy and stupid, but goofy and stupid is the neighborhood the Ninja Turtles live in.
Let's be honest -- pretend for a moment that this trailer came out back in 1990. Think of how stoked those of us who grew up as Ninja Turtles fans would have been after seeing that goddamned thing.
So Will It Be Terrible?
If you're in your 30s, yes, this movie will be terrible. The Ninja Turtles aren't likely to say "tubular" or ride oversized skateboards or punch learning-disabled mutant rhinoceroses in the face. It won't be as cool as you remember the turtles being, because the turtles were carefully manufactured to be cool by a 9-year-old's standards. We all fucked up and got older -- the turtles have stayed the same age.
But if you are 9 years old, this movie will probably be incredible.
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