The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles throughout their many years and many incarnations have faced many enemies. The Turtles have faced The Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady, even Vanilla Ice. Now they face their biggest threat yet, in someone that even the wisdom of Splinter could not foresee.
That threat is Michael Bay.
Michael Bay is the same director that has brought the world three horrific Transformers films and ruined many adults’ nostalgia around the world; he now sets his sights on the Turtles. Michael Bay will be producing the latest reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while allowing Jonathan Liebersman (Battle: Los Angeles) to direct. A trailer and maybe even a script haven’t been produced yet, but fans are already in an uproar over Bay’s announcement of the Turtles being aliens in the new incarnation.
The uproar is understandable because usually when Bay adds or changes things, it’s usually for the worse. I don’t think anyone has forgotten Mudflaps and Skids or Devastator with his scrotum hanging out. Michael Bay doesn’t help his cause by responding to the negative feedback by telling fans “… they need to take a breath and chill.” Nothing enrages fanboys more when a Hollywood fat-cat tells them what to do. However nothing makes Michael Bay look like an idiot more than saying, “When you see this movie, kids are going to believe, one day, that these turtles actually do exist…” as if making them aliens is more believable. Even though the Turtles pre-production is halted indefinitely, Michael Bay is still attached to the project.
There is a much simpler way to ensure success for this film. The main thing to keep in mind that has always been great about the Turtles is the absurdity of them. They are four man-sized turtles that know karate, while fighting a group called the Foot Clan. To enjoy the Turtles, you kind of have to get that joke once you’ve seen them. Remember TMNT influences are a parody of four popular 80s comics, which are Daredevil, New Mutants, Cerebus, and Frank Miller’s Ronin. In other words, you already fail when trying to intellectually make sense of something so absurd. That would be like trying to apply the Batman Begins formula to the Trix the Rabbit. Since the movie isn’t made yet, Hollywood has time to correct the mistakes they’ve already mentioned. In order to produce an exceptional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie this is what they should do:
What’s in a Name?
First of all the title should remain “TEENAGE MUTANT Ninja Turtles” rather than the shortening to “Ninja Turtles.” The title reminds the audience of the type of movie they’re dealing with and movies with crazy titles tend to become cult classics (although it doesn’t guarantee it). Movies like “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Being John Malkovich,” “The Man with Two Brains” (maybe not a classic but one of my favs), Keenan Ivory Wayans “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” all having lengthy titles and have strong followings. If in need for more successful examples, there are “Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King” or “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” or any Star Wars title for that matter. Now if producers are thinking the original Turtles’ name is too long for the young viewers of today, then my response to that is “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.” If the kids can say that, then they can say “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” five times fast.
As mentioned before The Turtles’ influences are an amalgamation of four other comics. Why not apply that same formula to its movie counterpart? Take the visual effects from Hellboy including costume design for the Turtles. Then take the style and off beat storytelling from Kill Bill so we can revel in it’s absurdity, while limiting those often drawn out dialogue. Last but not least, you take the fighting style and feral action from The Raid: Redemption.
Kill Bill vol.1
The Raid: Redemption
The director that can pull all this together is Guillmero Del Toro. He’s directed the Hellboy movies and Pan’s Labrynth, which truly shows his visual prowess. Furthermore he directed Blade 2, which his attention to detail and action is still not rivaled by many comic book movies to date. Del Toro can handle this hodgepodge of filmmaking that will allow the Turtles to flourish.
Seeing that if you can get a director like Del Toro who works wonders with creature costume designs, I think it goes to show that it’s not needed to have fully CGI rendered Turtles. Of course you may have some special effects on screen but like Del Toro did in Blade 2, he blended the effects seamlessly. Furthermore I think the design of the Turtles should look more like this:
This design gives a seriousness and cool factor that most comic book movies have now a days. Plus it pays homage to the original comic books seriousness and gritty feel.
Cool points that wouldn’t hurt the movie would be to somehow fit Usagi Yojimbo into the story (if rights allow), as well as making the Turtles known by some, maybe like the government or some organization rather than have them in total secret (much like how Hellboy is in his movies). This opens up the range of storytelling and it makes it more (ahem) “believable” to the audience. Along with that, there won’t be a need to make them aliens. You can make the Foot Clan bio-engineered fighters or cyborgs just so the Turtles can cut them to shreds. The movie will get pass the MPAA and not get an R- rating, so the kids can still go see it because a “person” isn’t getting dismembered.
Bye, Bye, Bay
Since my suggestions have eliminated all of Michael Bay’s influences, then the next best thing is to get rid of Michael Bay himself. Clearly Bay doesn’t do kids properties well. We shouldn’t risk exposing kids (as well as ourselves) to stereotypical/racial jokes, objectification of women, or our loveable characters pissing on a human’s head. Since the pre-production has been halted for the time being, the studio can saved themselves and their audience from the evil threat that is Michael Bay. They can go follow the trend that many other comic book movies are starting to do, which is making a quality film with story and direction that is full of substance.