Trailer Thoughts: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

So yesterday, the first (extended) teaser trailer for the upcoming Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit the web. This has been one of the most controversial movies of recent years, partly because the movie execs initially were making Alien Ninja Turtles, revamping the origins of the Turtles to be aliens from outer space and with Turtles long-time ally Casey Jones as the hero. Now, things are different, and it is for the better as far as I’m concerned. The initial story is something that I intensely disliked, and something that would have led to me not checking out the film at release. But, with the new teaser trailer, I think I can do that.

My first run-in with the Turtles was the animated series from the 90s. I used to watch it whenever it was on TV and I remember that I my mom would occasionally buy me the VHS cassettes as well. I used to own a couple at least. Those were some good times. The 90s were fantastic for all these animated series, a golden age sort of. And now we have the first live-action movie in like two decades, which is a significant amount of time, all things told. And I have to say that the movie looks better than expected, but isn’t quite there yet. More footage needed.

Regrettably, I’ve seen only the original animated series, and not the follow-ups. But, I’ve seen all the movies. So, with that context in mind, the Turtles as they are presented in the new movie seem to hearken back to how they were in the original movies. As best as I can remember at least, since its been at least 7 years since I last saw them. Could be as much as 8 even. The new movie introduces us to several characters. We get the four Turtles (Leonard, Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo), we get April O’Neil, we get Shredder/Erik Sachs, we get Vernon Fenwick, and that’s it for the moment. This is a very short trailer so there isn’t room for more, but if I’m honest I have to say that there are a few promising things here.

The Turtles look helluva tall for one thing. In one of the best comparison shots from the trailer, Mikey and Leo are about a head taller than April, and even when we have only them in a shot, they do look tall. It is a bit weird since I remember the Turtles looking more “normal” in the movies and the animated series. They are too lean here. But that’s fine. I don’t think that the size is all that big a deal. It rankles a little bit, but I’m not too worked up about it.

At least they seem to have gotten the attitudes for Mikey and Leo right, going by the trailer. Its not much, admittedly, but I like that they established Mikey’s humour in particular, as you’ll see towards the end of the trailer.

Surprisingly enough, Shredder’s character has a double identity and he seems to be someone who has been in the public eye in that role. William Fichtner is the actor performing the role and as he confirmed to media a while back (a news that I missed it looks like), Shredder’s public identity is as Eric Sachs. Shredder’s original name from the Turtles lore is Oroku Saki, so I guess the new name fits. Fichtner is one hell of an actor, although he has a tendency to do some disappointing roles now and then, so I know that he is going to do his best here. My only concern is, why is a through-and-through Japanese character being played by a white guy? What is the reasoning? This is something that the movie damn well address or I’m going to be pissed.

One interesting thing in the trailer is that we get a narration by Fichtner’s Eric Sachs. It is interesting, and it somewhat explains what the movie is going to be about, and it even hints at the Turtles’ origins. Plus we get to see the trademark ooze in its 2014 incarnation, which was nice. But yes, going back to the narration, it seems the writers have gone for a very superhero-ish take with the Turtles, with them having been created ostensibly. The trailer doesn’t reveal a whole lot and some things are in the air, but that’s a fair assumption I believe. More remains to be seen.

Still, on the flip side of things, we do get to see a brief glimpse of the Shredder armour, so that’s something.

The stock bad guys of the movie appear to be analogous to a black ops/special forces/SWAT team and that is another concern I have. Shredder’s army, the Foot Clan, is an army of ninjas. They are trained killers who fight hand-to-hand with swords and the like (again, from what I remember), so seeing them revamped like this, and using guns and weird-looking masks is something that sets me off. While I’m happy that the Turtles are getting a reboot, some of my fears are coming true it seems, and I feel rather apprehensive.

And on that note, I think Megan Fox makes a decent April O’Neil here. She is an actress I like, and she’s done some really nice movies like Jennifer’s Body, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and yes, I liked her in the two Transformers movies as well, and hated that she was replaced by the far less affective Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for the third movie in the franchise. She does get to don April’s trademark yellow jacket in the movie and most especially she is wearing it during her first run-in with the Turtles as they take down the Foot and later on when she comes face-to-face with Leo and Mikey. So that’s something right? Obviously, it remains to be seen whether she can really pull it off, but I’m hopeful. I wish that the trailer had given us some dialogue from her, rather than having her essentially be mum all throughout and faint at the end.

As with any Michael Bay, there are some city-explosions and “cool” action sequences that are peppered throughout the trailer. While Michael Bay hasn’t directed the movie, that’s Jonathan Liebesman of Wrath of the Titans, The Ring and Battle: Los Angeles fame, his influence is still there to see.

Still from the 90s live-action TV series.

Still from the 90s live-action TV series.

Overall, like I said, I’m cautiously optimistic about the movie. It is coming in at the ass-end of the summer timetable, in the first half of August, so it isn’t exactly going to be getting a huge reception, since most people are going to be prepping for colleges at the time and what not, and moviegoers are going to be generally exhausted from all the big tentpole action movies coming from April-July.

What we need right now is some more footage, a proper 3 minute trailer or something that includes Splinter, the Turtles’ mentor who is another mutant like them. And Baxter Stockman, since he is in the movie credits, a villain from the Turtles lore who has a long association with Shredder and Krang. And Karai too, who is one of Shredder’s accomplices and his student from the lore and in the movie is played by Japanese-American actress Minae Noji (which makes up for the confusion of Fichtner as Shredder).

Until then, cowabunga dudes!!

And I leave you with this, as I exit out:

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Posted on March 28, 2014, in Comics News, Movies News, News, Trailer Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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