Friday, March 8, 2013

Mutant Turtles are Dead, Long Live the Aliens!

I’ve started to write this blog entry before, when the original announcement was made that a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was going to be made.  At that time, a deafening roar of scorn was thrown up from every male age 25-35, so loud and indignant it reverberated off every mountain top and every grassy hillock from the Appalachians to the Cascades. 

“No, not the Turtles!  No not Michael Bay!  No, not aliens from another planet!  This must be stopped!”

As the rumors floated in, I gathered up all the contempt and vitriol I could muster, focused it not unlike Daniel Rand focusing his Chi to his hand, and with one, all-powerful, infinitely relatable gesture, I shrugged my mighty shoulders.

“Meh.  Who cares?”

Really?  Who cares?  What “serious” director wants to helm a NINJA TURTLES film?  Aronofsky?  Spielberg?  Nolan?  Maybe that’s how Scorsese would like to wrap up his career.  The reason the keys to the car have been handed over to Bay is because he has made three Transformers film and despite the pervasive bellyaching that none of them are worth watching, somebody is sure in the hell going to see them, as they have made a TON of money.  Hard though it may be to believe, the movie biz is usually about making money.

I’m not going to say some folks don’t do it for the art, they obviously do.  Another conversation for another time.  But, if somewhere in the deep reaches of your mind, you think for ONE SECOND any film based on a toy was made for any reason besides cashing in…well…you’re addled.

I always have trouble writing blogs like this, and the reason why is because I have problems compartmentalizing my ideas.  I need to get in to the original Turtles, the (bastardized?) cartoons, the movies, the actors, Sam Rockwell, the lucre; the filthy, filthy lucre.  Although this was a rant I wanted to save until the end of the piece, I think it’s crying out to be mentioned now.  Megan Fox as April O’Neil.

When this casting choice was made, the voices, lulled in to complacency by a notable lack of activity on the subject, swiftly rose up to voice their disdain yet again.  I saw no less than a half dozen Facebook posts, no less than a hundred disgruntled fanboys making their discontents known on comment sections of various entertainment websites.  And, once again, with all the vigor I could manage, I gave an indifferent, “Who cares?”

Why NOT Megan Fox?  Is there really some female actress everybody is so intoxicated with that, had they hired her to play the part, everybody would have given a collective sigh of relief?  Like, “Oh, well, they cast Amanda Seyfried as April O’Neil, NOW I’m going to see it.”  What, you’ve sat down and watched so many Megan Fox films you just can’t stand her anymore?

“Oh, man, I just sat through Friends with Kids, Megan Fox is soooo terrible, so miscast.”

You were predisposed to hating the film.  It doesn’t matter WHO they would have cast, you would have attacked every social media outlet with the “bad” news.  On top of all that, if there’s one thing I’ve learned since Al Gore invented it, DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET.

Hey, you remember just six months ago when all the online media reported this film wasn’t even going to happen?  Wait a second……..but………

In an age where all we do is read a snippet from a totally untrustworthy website who attributes an anonymous source “close to the project,” and then regurgitate it ad nauseum like it’s fact, I can’t help but be a little skeptical about everything I read.  What I’m saying is, don’t be surprised if Megan Fox “leaves” the project six months from now due to “creative differences.”  And by “leaves” I mean she was never really associated with the project and by “creative differences” I mean she was never really associated with the project.  Not saying it’s GOING to happen, just saying it COULD, and I would be nonplussed.

On a side note, I would TOTALLY cast Amber Tamblyn as April O’Neil.  Dear Hollywood, please contact me from now on when you need pure casting genius.  Thanks.

Assumedly, from what I can gather, Bay is getting ready to “destroy” the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Here’s the problem.  As adults we are somehow unable to come to grips with a simple fact.  All the stuff we watched when we were kids?  It’s garbage.  It’s totally disposable.  It was marketed by capitalist giants to our younger, naive selves -- like Nino Brown waving crack rocks at Pookie. 

I was never really a HUGE Turtles fan growing up.  Well, the Turtles as most people know them anyway.  My next door neighbor when I was growing up, Evan Camp, was a few years older than me and he introduced me to the Turtles at a young age.  The original Turtles.  Black and white, violent, and foul-mouthed.  You could, really, if you wanted to be a purist about it, make the argument that Playmates ruined the Turtles in the first place, bastardizing Eastman and Laird’s dark, brooding mutants and creating colorful, kid-friendly, surfer dudes.  I’m not really here to do that, but it could be argued.

This isn’t to say I didn’t have a few action figures, or play the NES game, or the arcade game.  Yeah, I saw at least the first movie, and maybe the second, in the theatre.  But I wasn’t much in to the cartoon or the toys, really.  Looking back it feels like they were a little on the periphery of my childhood.  I was born in the late 70s.  I had a glut of He-man and GI Joe, and even though they didn’t quite have the same aggressive output volume-wise, I also loved the Thundercats.  And Ducktales.  But who didn’t?

Don’t worry, I’m getting to the point here.

You know what I have in my possession?  The Best of He-Man.  Volume 1.  You know what’s almost impossible to sit through?  A SINGLE episode of He-Man.  You know why?  Because it’s rubbish.  And because I’m not five anymore.

Eschewing a bunch of the points I have forgotten by now, this is the crux of the TMNT conundrum.  If anybody, ANYBODY, who is all up in arms about Michael Bay (who, by the way, according to “reports” isn’t even directing the film anyway) or Megan Fox being involved in this project  could name the actress who played April O’Nei l in the first film and ALSO who directed it, I would literally (read: figuratively) fall over dead.

Never happen.  You know why?  Because they were NOBODIES!  Hacks, paid to spend some screen time with MEN DRESSED IN FULL SIZED TURTLE SUITS in order to fleece children’s parents of their money.  Although to be fair the director, who I won’t name just in case it’s right on the tip of your tongue (slathered with sarcasm), did direct a slew of music videos.  Oh, and also one other really good movie.  “Coneheads.”  I’ll let you decide for yourself whether or not that’s sarcasm.

Herein lies the problem.  Nostalgia is such a weird thing.  When I think about how easy it was to make me happy when I was six it gives me a warm fuzzy, and we all want to be able to recapture the feeling.  In a futile attempt some months back, my friends and I attempted to watch 24 hours of movies based on comic books.  In general, it t urns out I’m too old for that shit.  But, more relevant, one of the films was the original TMNT film.  I had to leave the room.  Couldn’t sit through it.  Absolutely terrible.  Maybe some people can resurrect a warm, ebbing glow by watching the original TMNT movie, or some old cartoon.  I’m not one of those people and, in this case, I believe I’m probably in the majority.

This is a still from GI Joe.  No, really.
I watched the first Bay directed Transformers movie and I hated it.  I also hate the He-Man movie and the attempt to resurrect the cartoon a few years back.  I won’t even consider watching the GI Joe movie made in 2009.

It was a marketing ploy then, and it’s a marketing ploy now.  Michael Bay isn’t “ruining” the Turtles, he’s trying to take an old idea and reintroduce it to today’s youth in order to make money.  If you’re 35 years old and yelling you don’t want to see the Turtles as aliens from another planet, it’s all good.  Just means you’re not the target market.  And if today’s youth likes it, and the Turtles are resurrected, albeit somewhat differently, good on him!  And if not…who cares? 

Because, you know what?  All of those movies, all poorly made, in my opinion, have absolutely no bearing on how I remember my childhood.  As a matter of fact, my favorite recollections are opening up new action figures on Christmas and then sitting around and playing with them all day with my brother until it was time for bed.  When I reminisce, never once does Shia LeBouf jumping in to a Bumblebee Camaro ever sully my memories and I find it hard to believe I will forsake any memories I have of the Turtles based on a movie I’m too old to see anyway.


  1. I agree that naturally as you age, your tastes change and you're not going to dig the same stuff. You're going to appreciate and view music and movies from an older perspective. That being said, I very much enjoyed the GIJoe movie because it was fun and ridiculous. And Rachel Nichols is hot.

    1. Rachel nichols the espn news anchor?

    2. No the actress that played Scarlett, she also had a lead role in the Conan remake. I'm a little upset they left her out of the GIJoe sequel...much rather watch her than Bruce Willis do his boring schtick again.

  2. a degree.....that's what I'm saying. My point is, it's SUPPOSED to be fun and ridiculous, how does michael bay or megan fox being involved ruin that?