Teenage ALIEN Ninja Turtles?!
In an open statement at a Nickelodeon event:
“These Turtles are from an alien race,” Bay said during Nickelodeon’s upfront presentations last week. “They are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.”
Of course this lead to a great deal of negative outcry from fandom and even Robbie Rist, who played Michelangelo in the original live action films. It’s also got some positive feed back from the likes of Judith Hoag (who played April O’Neil in the first TMNT movie) and Brian Tochi (Leonardo of the original live movie series).
Bay too responded saying that:
“Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.”
Some sites have gone on record as agreeing that we, the fans, should wait to see what they come up with. One even went so far as to state in the original story that the ooze was alien in origin, therefore they are aliens to begin with. This merely cuts out the middleman.
Let me tell you what I think about this…
First off, Michael Bay as a director. The only movie of his I’ve ever liked was the Rock. It has the right amount of fun and seriousness that work well with me. However, that’s the only movie I can give this credit to and it seems I’m not the only one to share such a sentiment. My biggest gripe is that he’s decided that he can touch these franchises and improve upon them. It’s not hard to figure out that explosions and special effects, if you can call the robots that, don’t make for a good story. The robots themselves look like Lego Technic sets. Cool to play with if you’ve got a blank canvas, but not much when you’ve got the licensed products. For proof of that, look at the Star Wars line. The rest of the movie is just big explosions and bad dialogue. Catch phrases, young hot bodies, and fast paced shaky cam action sequences. Sounds like homemade tapes you can find at the special DVD shop, doesn’t it? To add insult to injury, he made 3 of these and is trying hard to work out the 4th. What makes it worse for me is that Steven Spielberg put his brand on it. I’ve enjoyed many a Spielberg film, and this is just a huge amount of tarnish.
Now that I’ve bashed the director, let me bash the original statement here. Alien Ninja Turtles… Yes, the origin story for them does have the ooze as alien in origin, but that doesn’t mean the Turtles are. What that means is that the very TERRESTRIAL turtles got doused with something alien, but they’re still earthbound creatures. Just in case you haven’t been around for it, the origin is fairly straight forward. A container of this mutagen ooze falls into a sewer where 4 baby turtles and a rat get doused and become humanoid in size. The rat (in most versions of the story) was the pet of a ninja warrior who learned the art of ninjitsu by mimicking the movements in his cage and taught the 4 green teens the art. Nothing so complex here in storyline that really needs to be changed. It’s so easy to follow, a Geico caveman could do it. Apparently Michael Bay cannot claim the same thing.
The second statement for we fans to chill? Let’s take this into real serious context, I didn’t like ANY of the Transformers films. A lot of people jumped on that bandwagon starting with the second. So, if we take this track record, there is reason for alarm. If he had proven himself a better director and storyteller, it wouldn’t be worth scruntinizing. Yes, he says he’s got one of the original creators involved. That’s great! I applaud that! In a nutshell though, Bay is the director, not Eastman or Laird. He can do with this what he feels he wants. Is that what’s going to happen? Again, I look at the track record. What it tells me is that we, the fans, have plenty of reason to beware. If this were his first delve into fanboy territory then perhaps I’d go in with cautious hope. I don’t have a bit of that going into this. I didn’t read the script for Transformers and I can tell you I wish I had. It might’ve saved me from the visual assault of Explosion: The Movie! And just because you include everything that made us fans, doesn’t mean you will include it well. That means you’ll be shoving stuff in and hoping that our memories of it will override our sense of wanting to throw rotten fruit at the screens as we watch.
I have a very special place in my heart for these characters. I was too young to jump onto the comic when it first hit shelves, but then a couple of short years later when the cartoon hit I was all over it! I was hooked and wanted more cartoons and toys. Much like Transformers, GI Joe, Masters of the Universe and (in my case) Thundercats, the marketing of the show with the toys was astounding. I wanted all I could get, even the figures that I never really saw on the show. While I couldn’t collect them all, I did get the 4 turtles and Shredder! That was enough to play and make up cool stories in the line of what I knew about them. In 1990 when the first movie hit theatres I was there again. Different from what I remembered, closer to the original material, but so similar that there was no flags raised to question things.
I grew up and read the old material, watched the reboot cartoon which had all the seriousness of the movies with a little bit of the camp that made the old cartoon what it was. It was animated greatness! I particularly appreciated the fact that they gave the world another shot at loving the Turtles as much as I did. Of course, as all things will, it finally ended leaving the gap open for the next in line of Turtles shows and movies. The animated movie gave me hope that they had a new line to sprout with, but nothing more came of that. It was an awesome film, and sadly under-appreciated. Then in 2009, a Turtles event happened that gave me a taste of the real coolness of what the Turtles spectrum could be. It was a movie that was broadcast on a few different channels called: Turtles Forever. This movie contained the 2003 series Turtles meeting with their 80s counterparts to deal with 2 separate Shredders, Krang, Rocksteady, Bebop and the old Foot Clan robots. The sheer amount of love that went into making this was awesome! For those who haven’t seen it, get it. There are far more surprises in it than you’d expect. They kept all the art styles intact for all the Turtles, so you can tell them apart easily. It was the best to see it and ties up everything really nicely in a bow! That last hoorah that says there could be another adventure, but if this was all you got then it was at least it was cool.
Saying all this, and getting back to Michael Bay, this is the sort of expectation you’re up against. You see, it’s not just the fact that you’re changing the origin story. It’s that you’re picking up a much loved legacy again. Transformers (even if all you loved was ONE incarnation) was a much beloved series. The first and REAL movie to that showed the death of Optimus Prime, had some great talent of the day, and gave the fans the satisfaction of knowing they got Megatron and Prime on the big screen. You gave them the voice of one, but you didn’t deliver the body or soul of the series. In most every incarnation of the Turtles, there is a fondness that lends itself over and over again. You screw this one up and the fanboys will bury you. Honestly, I’m going to wait on the reviews if I ever see this. I don’t plan on supporting a man that keeps screwing things up. That’s the real stand that has to be made. If you want something to succeed you pour your hard earned cash into it. If you want to see it fail so that it won’t be touched by the likes of this man, you don’t pour anything but a disappointed groan at its very mention and move on. You’ve inspired that, Mr. Bay. This fan will chill out ONLY when you can prove to me that you can be more respectful of the material and to we fans.