Friday, 28 March 2014

Trailer: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The first trailer for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was released yesterday. There are mixed reviews as to how it looks: many posted comments about being disappointed, or having their childhood ruined, or noting how the turtles look like a more realistic Shrek, or that Shredder isn’t Japanese, and so on. Others are saying that it doesn’t seem that bad, and regardless of Michael Bay’s involvement in the project, it still could be a good action film.

You can judge for yourself, I’ve posted the trailer below.

I have only one thing to comment on as to altered expectations: the size of the turtles. While this was probably changed during the adaptation writing process, the turtles aren’t really supposed to be that tall. In fact, even the costumes used for the first TMNT (1990), were taller than envisioned by the creators – and they reached maybe six feet. In the comic, all four kung-fu practising turtle-ninjas were thought to be closer to four feet.

I must make it clear, though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, few have come to expect a literal adaptation from a movie in the hands of Michael Bay (even if he is the producer), but so what if the turtles are big? If it works for the film, then it works. It was simply disconcerting the first time you see them.

However, talking about the quality of the film based on a trailer is worse than judging a book by its cover (which I do all the time with great results). We all know that making a trailer is not the same thing as making a film. Man of Steel’s teasers had me thinking I was going into a poetic, psychological investigation of what it meant to be Superman. I was wrong. But I still hold firm to the opinion that those teasers are some of the best in recent years (alongside the two teasers for The Master (2012)).

Therefore, despite what the final product will be for TMNT (2014), I too would rather focus on the quality of this trailer right now, and not make judgments on how these elements work in the film itself. So without further delay I must say this: the trailer is lacking and misses out on a huge opportunity. Yes, yes, I often say this. Oh well. Let me briefly explain why.

Two things are missing here: Splinter, and any sort of Japanese philosophy. First of all, don’t get Shredder to narrate the trailer, come on. Now in that way. They used Shredder for the 1990 trailer, but it was clear it was him, and his voice fits the part. I’m not a big fan of casting William Fichtner, but really, if the producers want to get people excited about this movie, keep him out of the spotlight, and allow for Splinter’s presence. Have Splinter talk about the growth of heroes, what is needed in a failing city, as well as my second point – philosophy.

I don’t mean start talking about what old stuffy professors talk about, but about Japanese mysticism. Inject at least some of it into the trailer. The amazing thing about TMNT has always been the clash of the goofy, crude, even lame teenagers, and the old-world wisdom of Japanese philosophy via Splinter. I would have loved to see a trailer showing at least a little how Japan merges with the filthy underbelly of a large American city.

Let’s be honest: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the strangest and silliest concepts for storyline ever. Four teenage super-turtles, trained by a super intelligent rat in the art of Japanese styled fighting, protect New York as ninjas, all the while eating pizza and fried food. Are we really ever supposed to take this seriously? Its ridiculousness doesn’t make it a bad story though, because the way it’s treated on screen or on the page, saves it. Let’s hope the new movie is able to do it justice.

I loved the first TMNT (1990) so I’ve included the trailer for that as well. The joke said by the cab driver is priceless. And I love how the title is introduced with the music. Classic 90s. Enjoy. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, is set for release August 8th starring Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn, Pete Ploszek, and Will Arnett. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) was released a while ago and stars a lot of great people, too. If you had a childhood, you've watched it already. 

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