It might take a little more than Turtle Power to get some of us to the theaters on opening night.
I admit this freely; I have been (and to a large extent still am) obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can’t really explain why, as the concept itself sounds fucking crazy. Four turtles are transformed by a green slime into human-sized mutants and are then trained by a rat in the ways of Ninjutsu. No substance you can smoke or snort could possibly help that sentence make sense. Yet, I love um’ (as I’m sure millions of you out there do as well). The roots of my fandom stretch back to the Saturday morning cartoon days, and that passion still burns today (I’m drinking Mountain Dew from a retro Turtles cup as I type this…no bull shit).
While I think many of us can agree that the original ’89 TMNT film was not only a love letter to fans, it was a fairly good piece of business. It took its influences from the Eastman/Laird comics and went in a much darker direction that the Fred Wolf animated series. The Ooze sequel wasn’t as great, but still lovable (and the third is forever cursed as “That whom shall not be named”). Even the later CG rendition of 2007 wasn’t bad. Now after a slew of rumors, misinformation and leaked concept art (some fake and some legit) we’re finally going to see another live-action TMNT movie hit theaters this weekend. However, if you own a television, you probably already know that (based on the slew of ad spots that have inundated our airwaves over the last several weeks). Bottom line, the studio wants you to see this flick. It’s is very likely to be remembered as one of the definitive releases of Summer 2014 (along with Guardians of the Galaxy). At its helm, we’ve got Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman. When speaking with SuperHeroHype, he says the main reason he took the film was to “… have fun, but it’s the hardest I’ve worked on a film. Which is probably a good thing. I’ve never had a film where people are so excited to see it so long before. It’s challenging to meet those expectations.”
But there is one monkey in the wrench which still has this long-time Turtles fan a bit worried.
For all intents and purposes, I should be completely stoked. A new TMNT film is on the horizon, yet I’m luke warm at best. I can’t really explain it. The casting appears solid, the Turtles (even though they are 100% motion capture) look decent and the spirit of the film seems have its heart in the right place. I should be going bat-shit crazy for this thing…but I’m not. Yes I’ll probably see it on opening weekend, but I’m searching for answers as to what is tamping down my level of enthusiasm (which seems to be bubbling just below the surface). After a bit of contemplation, I think I have it. It all comes down to a name. One that has wreaked havoc on my childhood memories in the past. The identity of a man whose struck terror in the hearts of fanboys like me for quite some time now. You know of whom I speak don’t you? Are you really going to make me speak his name aloud? Fine. Here goes. The dark one known as…wait for it…Michael Bay <dramatic music> DUM DUM DAH </dramatic music>.
Let’s face it, this guy ruined Transformers. I’m sure I’ll get a slew of comments below defending the franchise (and yes I know it made a butt-load of money) but all three films were terrible. It took a beloved part of 80's pop culture (one that had HUGE potential by the way) and turned it into a circle jerk for the car industry and big budget Hollywood. With Platinum Dunes in the fray, I have to wonder how much of that influence is going to seep into this movie and ruin it (Liebesman will likely have to incorporate many of Bay’s notes whether he likes it or not). Don’t forget that funny little line in the trailer about Aliens, which was their attempt at self-awareness (poking fun at the public backlash a few months back). To me, it’s a staunch reminder of how close we came to Bay screwing up something as simple as the origins story. Dodged a bullet there people…dodged a bullet.
My distain for Mr. Bay’s sensibilities notwithstanding, I want to like this movie. I’m going in with an open mind and we’ll see what happens. The Splinter/Shredder face-off looks interesting, but may not play so well in the actual cut of the film. And that’s my worry about all of it really. What if the trailers are only disguising the true train wreck this movie could end up as? On the other hand, maybe it’ll be great. At this moment, I’m about 50/50 as one Turtle fan can get. Hopefully my fears will be put to rest this weekend (and perhaps Michael and I can begin the healing process).
On a side note, does anyone else think Shredder looks like the love child of Megatron and a giant smoothie maker?