Tuesday, September 02, 2014

TMNT Trailer Review

So yeah, this was originally made a few weeks after the release of the first trailer for the new TMNT film. A review of the actual movie is yet to come, if I gather up the courage to actually go see it. So keep in mind if you've already seen the film: I know significantly less about it than you do right now. There are two parts of this review. The first part is me talking about the concept without having seen the trailer. It's mostly why I think it's important at all. The second part is me commenting on the trailer right after having seen it for the first time.

Part one.
Pre- viewing.

At no stage of the production of the film have I been particularly excited about it. Mainly because of Michael Bay's involvement. Having him at the helm of something like this AND having him cast Megan Fox as April O'Neil seems more like something out of a Collegehumor video than real life to me. But real life it is. If Bay reworks this franchise in the same manner he did Transformers, than that means that not only will he change things up in a very shallow way, he will also market it to a more adult audience, which would be a big mistake, in my opinion. I think a franchise like TMNT strives best with the focus on a less mature audience. A lot of people roughly my age remember how excited we got about the Turtles when we were kids and that's something I think the newest generation deserves to experience as well. TMNT is one of those things that have practically become sacred through nostalgia. If you come from a certain generation you will probably, like me, remember watching the show and shitting yourself in excitement over the live action films (not literally, I generally don't remember that far back). It's one of the first things I remember being a fan of (I had the toys too. And some videotapes. And a NES video game). I remember watching the movies and even though I knew logically that I was watching men in suits, I still had the feeling I was watching the actual, real, no bullshit, Ninja Turtles. It was pretty goddamn magical. That's the kind of suspension of disbelief that is quite hard, if not impossible, to achieve as an adult. It just kind of dies out when you grow up. As a result, remembering that now lost feeling becomes one of those bright points in our childhoods. That's a big part of what makes nostalgia so powerful. It's also why I feel so strongly about the children of today getting the change to have that same experience before they grow up and it's too late. That why us fans can get so fervent about preserving the legacy of a franchise like this. When a child sees the same movies as we did, we know the feelings that are paired with that action. We can be fairly sure that child will love it as we did. Maybe not exactly, but certainly approximately. When that same child watches a Michael Bay produced film on the TMNT however, that certainty is gone. We simply don't know what modern day Hollywood will crap out, but the fear is that it's something that will not rival our childhood favourites, thereby quite possibly robbing kids of the fun we had watching TMNT. Now, I'm not going to pretend as if that touches on our own childhoods by proxy in any way, but it would definitely leave a stain on the franchise. Of course, the film might actually turn out great and all worries turn out to be for nothing. 'Might'. That's the scary part. And it's not as if I'm incredibly hopeful. When this movie went into production, Michael Bay didn't exactly try not to be a huge parody of himself (the guy seems to be spiralling out of control further with every movie he directs/produces). Remember when you first heard the Turtles were supposed to be aliens now? I think that's scrapped now, but whoa boy, talk about a bad start. I hope Ooze will still be in the origin story. If it's not, it's kind of like making a Batman adaptation and then changing the fact that his parents got shot. It would be nothing short of sacrilege. There are certain things you just don't do. And then there's the casting of Megan Fox as April O'Neil. What a joke. In fact, when I first read it, I assumed to be reading an article on some equivalent to the Onion. But nope, this exists now. Not anything against her personally, I would certainly take the job if I were her, but you can see how she's probably not going to rock as April O'Neil, right? I mean, if she will, I will definitely take my words back but somehow I can't help thinking the casting director was paying more attention to her famous name than her actual acting skills. It's not hard to make a list of people better suited to play April O'Neil than Fox (future blog post?), which is troubling.
When the trailer came out a few weeks ago I did something that's very unlike me: I didn't watch it. I had seen some behind the scenes photographs and they did not get me excited in the least bit. Now I will see the trailer and give my opinion of it, so hold on to your butts.

[watches trailer]

Part two.
Post- viewing

Well, fuck.
You know the CG destruction fetish dominating Hollywood right now? That's what the trailer opens with. There is this fucking building right at the beginning just collapsing and shit. And, you know, I've excused Man of Steel for this in the past, but does every single movie have to have that disaster porn now? Does everything have to have exploding buildings? CGI buildings, to add insult to injury? This shit looks exactly like Transformers. And I know Michael Bay technically isn't the director, but I didn't see the director's name in the trailer, I did see Michael Bay's name. I also saw his unmistakable style. So fuck it, this is Michael Bay's TMNT. Okay? Okay. So then we see the fucking Foot Clan. Well, I guess it's them, because the content of the trailer seems to suggest as much. The Foot Clan is supposed to be composed of ninjas. That's one of the constants of the show: ninjas. Ninjas are cool. Everybody knows ninjas are cool, no need to change that shit. Right? Wrong, apparently. Now they look more like some kind of SWAT team with the only 'Asian' thing about them being that they wear masks that oddly resemble the masks of the Immortals from 300. And then there is Shredder. Dear mother of fuck. You know the banker that shoots at the Joker in the opening of The Dark Knight? Well, that guy is Shredder now. "But Crayon...", I can hear you ask, "...isn't that guy white?". Why yes, you observant reader, you, yes he is. "But... but isn't Shredder an obviously Japanese guy named Oroku Saki? He's a samurai, aren't all samurai Japanese?" Right you are, big guy. I guess someone at Paramount figured William Fichtner would be better at playing an Asian dude than Jet Li, Ken Watanabe, Jason Scott Lee, Chin Han, Daniel Dae Kim, James Kyson Lee, Rain, John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, Min-sik Choi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Hiroyuki Sanada, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Brian Tee, Lee Byung-hun, Rick Yune, David Lee McInnis, Stephen Rahman-Hughes, Godfrey Gao, Bin Won, Leonardo Nam, Ye Liu...
I just... I can't even...
Moving on. What do you mean, 'no'? There's more Shredder stuff to shred? For the love of... Okay, so the costume, as far as we can see here, is pretty badass, but we don't see him in it. We do, however, see him in a business suit. Because Shredder seems to be reduced to the kind of bad guy that pops up in a lot of Roland Emmerich movies. Normally that type of bad guy is either a businessman or a scientist. Shredder seems to be both. Since all trailers open with narration from the villain now, we get Shredder narrating the opening to this trailer. This is where we find out that the Joker shot Batman's parents! Whoops, that come out wrong. What I was trying to say is: fucking Shredder created the Turtles! Wait, that sounds way worse. The fuck is this? In the original there is a chemical spill ("Ooze"), which seeps into the sewer, reaching some turtles, which then mutate into teenage ninjas. In this version, however, they seem to be made in a lab or some shit. But it gets worse people. Not only where the Turtles made in a lab, but they were made by Shredder, and April O'Neil's dad (I thought the Oxford comma might be justified here, I wouldn't want you the think Shredder and April have the same dad. This shit is bad enough as it is). Yes, you read that right. Can't make this stuff up folks. This brings us to April O'Neil. Or let's skip the pretence and just say 'Megan Fox'. She doesn't say a word throughout the trailer. Unless you count single vowels, because she does scream a couple of times. Of course, that's not all she does. She also falls over and faints. Real promising for a reporter. Now, to be fair, we also see her filming. Too bad she films like a complete idiot. She is capturing an important moment while shaking her phone (yes, she's filming with her phone). At least she isn't filming vertically, so points for that I guess. On the other hand, like I said, she's supposed to be a reporter. So no points, really. Now, like I said before, I'm not going to fault her for being cast. If I were to act and I would be offered such a role, I would take it too. That doesn't make it right that there is no effort made by anyone to make her look anything like April O'Neil (yes, she wears yellow. Whoop-dee-doo). She looks exactly like she does in all her other movies. If you want to break the mould of "Oh, there's Megan Fucking Fox again" You really should make an effort to at least look different. To look like April O'Neil. In my mind April looks a bit like Molly Ringwald in the Breakfast Club. You know, short red hair, not long strait hazel, like Fox. In short, I'm really confused as to why nobody pushed for that look, as she now just looks like Megan Fox in a yellow jacket. Then there are the Turtles themselves. They don't look like vomit, but I'm not entirely happy with the design either. Those fucking noses, what is up with that? In every other incarnation their noses are the biggest thing on their faces. Yet, in this version, their noses look oddly human. That's the one thing that makes their faces look really weird, in my opinion. Granted, I'm already kind of weirded out by the overly realistic eyes and lips and stuff, but the noses are what really wrecks it. First we see Leonardo and he's actually kind of badass, which is definitely a good thing. And then we see Donatello and Raphael sliding down snow on what looks like a mountain and Raphael uses Donatello's stick to propel himself forward, only to slam into a truck (or Jeep or whatever). And this vehicle gets utterly destroyed while Raphael just kind of seems to shrug it off like it's some minor inconvenience. Which makes me wonder just how powerful the Turtles are in this incarnation. It makes me suspect overkill awaits us. I'm talking people actually using machine guns against the Turtles, shit like that. I mean, hell, they'd have to, wouldn't they? At least the action seems to be better visible than in the Transformers movies. Not that that's such a giant feat, but it's something. Then we get to the rooftop scene. It opens with Leonardo standing there being a badass. Fair enough. And then, at almost the end of the trailer, there is hope. Michelangelo delivers the last line, which is genuinely funny. Shocking, I know. There is, however, one down point to this scene: Megan Fox faints. I really hope that's not going to be a running gag. Remember: reporter. I really hope that all the shots we see of her in the trailer come from early in the film, so that she actually develops into something better.

My major concern about this movie is the following: who the hell is it for? If it's for my generation in order to pander to nostalgia, why the changes? Sure, I will see it in the cinema, but I probably won't like it. If it's for children, than what the hell are they thinking? It doesn't look like a children's movie. I mean, they wouldn't have made Shredder a business man if it was supposed to be for kids, right? Maybe it's for an in between group. Late teens that want a more adult film and haven't seen the cartoon while growing up. Or maybe they're just assuming TMNT will make money regardless of what they're crapping out (they're right, I just said I will see it).

Turtle Power,
-The Human Crayon.

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