Marc Alan Fishman: Turtles the Size of Buicks!
No doubt you’ve watched it. If you’re of my generation? You’ve likely re-watched it several times over. And after each subsequent viewing… you ask yourself: Is Michael Bay destroying my childhood one license at a time? In response, I think we’ve all come to relatively the same conclusion– maybe a little bit. But the trailer in question reveals to us a Michael Bay at his Bay-ie-est.
Let’s start with the good. There’s plenty of hints that the film makers know the lore from which they are drawing. From April O’Boobs’ yellow jacket, the TCRI building, to the relatively recognizable Shredder armor… it’s clear that someone in the production watched a few cartoons in their pre-production meeting. Now, just because they happen to get some cliff notes of the Turtles, and then regurgitated them into their flick doesn’t necessarily mean we can breath a sigh of relief mind you, but it’s always nice to think they care about what the fans of each generation brings to the theater. Beyond potential Easter eggs, I will say I am pleased, thus far, with the characterization we get a glimpse of. Leonardo is clearly inspired by old school samurai. Donatello (the nano-second worth of footage you get of him) shows his love of gadgets. Raph… I think slams into a humvee (which I’ll get into a bit later). And hip-hop Mickey has a sense of humor. For what it’s worth? It’s a step forward versus the original movie turtles, who Ebert once chortled “can only be told apart based on their bandana colors.”
And then there was the not-so-good. Off the bat? The plotline seems predictably shallow. A crime-riddled world. Something needs to be done! Explosions! Enter the heroes. Cowabunga. Oh, and April will likely get into some trouble at some point. Meh. And what of our titular teen turtles? Well, I’m not a fan of the scale Bay and company have chosen to use. These are not your Daddy’s ninjas. These are not fleet-footed martial artists in training. These are 6′ 5” behemoths that decimate SUVS, crush bricks under foot, and have faces akin to the goomba’s of ill-fated cinematic fame. Suffice to say? They are ugly, lumbering, and not really as I’d desire them to be. But I digress. Lest I become one of those cranky old-farts who get their balls in a jumble when something isn’t as it used to be.
At the core, I postulated that this was just another Bay-splosion set to ruin my memories of the heroes in a half-shell. For those who haven’t watched the recent line of Transformers movies… you may leave now. For the rest of us? Let’s commiserate our potential misery. Bay’s TF was (and continues to be) and abomination. Not just because it takes well-made tropes of our youth, and then panini-presses them between elaborate incomprehensible CGI explosions, sound effects, and slightly racist comic relief. In about 90 seconds or so, Michael’s TMNT looks like it could basically exist in the same universe. With ominous violence, a only slightly funny coda, and enough destruction porn every 10 seconds or so… it’s hard to finish off the trailer with high hopes. As I’d said: it doesn’t look terrible, but it doesn’t look worth it either. Michael Bay and his team are many things. Meticulously slick craftsmen? Sure. Marketing and merchandising Lucas-esque whores? Totally. Thespians in search of amazing stories to tell? I doubt it.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to fault them for what they’ve made thus far. Nickelodeon’s already doing the Turtles justice with their better-than-the-eighties toon now enjoying it’s second season. Bringing another interpretation to the big screen just continues to line the pockets of their benefactors. Given that the license started with a single comic made more in jest than anything else… I’d say this is a cash cow that keeps bearing new ice cream every time you think you’ve had enough. And while Bay surely wants folks in my generation to get nostalgic and flock to our multiplexes on opening weekend, this blockbuster-in-waiting is clearly aimed at those who were my age when the Turtles first came into popularity. Of course this generation has been raised on ‘The Avengers’, ‘Man of Steel’, and the Lord of the Rings. So, expect that this time around, more crap will be blowed-up real good. And I sincerely doubt the Shredder will be disbanded by a carefully crafted animatronic parry, and drop. And I’ll eat my beard of Spliner ‘makes a funny’. If anything? I expect the rat to be a terribly ignorant stereotype. Remember Anthony Anderson in Transformers? Think that, but with 100% more Panda Express namedrops.
In the mean time before Turtle time… let’s reflect on the good times. Before they end up like so many other things we hold dear… explodededed. Cowabunga, indeed.