8 Apr 2012

The TAN Band wagon (the new TMNT movie)


There is a lot of talk amongst my friends, co-workers and online commentators about the new reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise. Michael Bay's production company is behind the new project with Jonathan Liebesman as the director. 

For those that are not immediately familiar with Michael bay or Jonathan Liebesman, Michael Bay was behind the recent  Transformer movies, Armageddon,  and Pearl Harbor. Jonathan Liebesman was the director of  Battle Los Angeles,  and  Wrath of the Titans.

 Are you a bit nervous yet?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally an adult comic created by Kevin Eastman, and Peter Laird. They went on to market their black and white comic into a successful franchise including; a role playing game  kid friendly colour comics,a TV cartoon series, computer games and a series of movies. 

We are all familiar (well unless you came from some sort of luddite household without a TV and never visited a toy shop in the late 80's, early 90's)  with the back story. of TMNT.  Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo were four turtles mutated into humanoid Turtles with great strength and agility by some toxic radioactive waste in the sewers of New York. They were trained by their sensei and adopted father, Splinter in the arts of Ninjitsu to become four crime fighters. Splinter named his sons after the great masters of the Renaissance.  As I said most people of Gen X and Y, even if they were not fans of the heroes in a halfshell know who they are, and are familiar of the basic mythology of the franchise. 
 So you can imagine the consternation of people who have heard the recent announcement by Michael Bay promoting his new project.

I quote:
“These turtles are from an alien race, and they’re going to be tough, edgy, funny, and completely lovable.”

Woah there Samson! Did he actually say these Turtles are from an alien race? Yes he did, and there has been a lot of backlash from fans about it.I like this tweet personally:

"The screams of kids of the 80's can be heard in Space" by Shawn Green.  Robbie Rist who was a voice actor for Michelangelo wrote an open letter to Michael Bay stating :
"I know believing in mutated talking turtles is kinda silly to begin with but am I supposed to be led to believe there are ninjas from another planet? The rape of our childhood memories continues..."
 Strong words.

What do I think?

I think that Michael Bay is a successful director and producer with several highly profitable movies behind him. He has a good understanding of pacing, special effects and spectacle. In fact I would say that Mr. Bay is a master of cinematic spectacle. Maybe that's why Pearl Harbour was such a success. Now I admit I haven't seen Pearl Harbour, but IMDB rates it 5.6 and the Rotten Tomatoes site rates it at 25%, and all but one friend who has watched it said; well said it sucked!
So a master of spectacle But not really a great story teller. I think the creators of South Park  sum up my feelings for Mr. Bays work with this:

I have seen Jonathan Liebesman's Battle Los Angeles however and it was pretty dull. It was meant to be this exciting action movie with guns, more guns and aliens. Which it was, but it was also dreadfully long. And I mean terribly log and drawn out until you found yourself sighing and reaching for the DVD cover to check the minutes.
It should have been named  battle the doldrums 

Now this live action movie made by this two stirling examples of creativity will be called  Ninja Turtles and apparently the earth will be invaded by Aliens, but they will be resisted by the Turtles (well aliens who look like Turtles) who I imagine will save the day.  Now I have seen one reference of Krang being in this movie which is interesting.

Krang was one of the  original villains from the RPG and the cartoon. He is an evil alien who wishes to take over the Earth, and joins up with the heroes arch nemisis Shredder. So if they include Krang  perhaps this film will be truer to the original concept than I first thought?

What a minute lets look at this story again? Earth will be invaded by Aliens, but they will be resisted by other Aliens which resemble something on earth, Turtles. Oh god all we need is some sort of mystical artifact and a local teenager and we have the mutant version of  Transformers  except that's just it isn't it, there are no mutants just aliens.

As you know (well if you read this blog) I am a firm believer that if you are making a making a movie, regardless if it is a movie of a comic, or book, TV show or even fairy tale or legend, that you are true to the basic concept;  Luke is Darth Vaders son, Indiana Jones is an Archaeologist, Dorothy is trying to get home, James Bond is a secret agent. You can of course take a story and retell it in a new and exciting way. O Brother Where art thou?  was a clever retelling of the story of Odysseus, and  The Graveyard Book  was a retelling of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book.  These adaptations still told the same story while being true to the original concept, but as with the Indiana Jones or James bond examples, it doesn't work if Indiana is a physicist or James is a Butler.
Indy contemplated quantum electrochemistry
Adaptions and retelling of classic stories can be creative and entertaining. They do not have to be trite or cheap copies of earlier works. I truly believe that storytelling is only confined by the boundaries of human imagination. However it appears that some Hollywood studios are constrained by their fear of a bad box office to think beyond Michael Bay turning a piece of child hood nostalgia into a bad rehash of his previous work.
I could well be wrong in this, but I refer to  Pearl Harbour  and the latest  Transformers movie.

Anyway I hope you all had a great Easter and more Angolia posts are coming.


  1. I understand that as well as not being mutants, they will also not be teenagers - seriously. One could also assume that not being from Earth, they are neither ninjas nor turtles. Thus TMNT becomes .

  2. i guess that is why it is called ninja turtles since they are not teenage mutants... sigh. it was a great cartoon.

  3. GAAA! What are they doing to our childhood?