Ever since Paramount bought the TMNT franchise back in 2009 and announced they'd be doing a live-action movie, it seems as though they'd been doing everything possible to piss off the fans. Thing #1 they did was announce that Michael Bay would be producing the film, through his company Platinum Dunes. Even though Bay's films have made billions of dollars, he's pretty much reviled for films that favour style over substance. And his handling of the Transformers franchise showed that he likes to take these classic franchises and put his own...unique stamp on them.
(I'm reluctant to say too much more. As I've blogged in the past, I think I'm technically not allowed to hop onto the "Michael Bay sux" campaign as I own the Criterion edition of Armageddon.)
Then, after that, we got the infamous leaked early script that rewrote the Turtles origins from being mutated by radioactive waste in the sewers of New York, to being aliens from Dimension X....chosen ones in hiding, in preparation for their forthcoming battle against Krang.
But the fans went nuclear with the announcement that Megan Fox would be playing the most prominent human character, the Turtles longtime Girl Friday, April O'Neil. I was one who didn't get as upset about the casting of Fox as April O'Neil. I know Fox isn't regarded as the best actress, but I have hope. I mean, as vile as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was, I remember that one of the few positive things my best friend had to say about it was a compliment to Fox's acting. "You know that scene, where she's going to have the Skype date with Shia LeBeouf, but he stands her up?" said my friend. "In that scene, she genuinely looked heartbroken."
That kind of distracted from the additional controversy of veteran character actor William Fichtner signing on to play the Turtles' arch-enemy, the Shredder. More Hollywood whitewashing, as Asian crimelord Oroku Saki becomes American crimelord Eric Sachs. Rest assured, more controversy sprung up over the trailer where, thanks to his narration, it's implied that he was one of the scientists who had to something to do with the creation of the Turtles.
Rounding out the human cast is Will Arnett, still most beloved as GOB on Arrested Development, as Vernon Fenwick, April's cameraman. Whoopi Goldberg shows up as Bernadette Thompson, a female version of Burns Thompson, April's boss. And Saturday Night Live alumnus Abbey Elliot is also in the film as April's currently-unnamed roommate. But, seeing as to how they're drawing from Channel 6 newsroom on the 1987 cartoon for this, I'm guessing she's Irma.
As for the Turtles, Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are being played by Alan Ritchson, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, and Noel Fisher. According to IMDB, they mostly have TV guest appearances to their credits. And Splinter is being played by Danny Woodburn, as Kramer's friend Mickey on Seinfield.
So. Now we know what brought us here. Let's roll the tape.
Despite this being a Johnathon Liebesman film (he also directed Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans), you can see producer Michael Bay's fingerprints all over this, as it looks and feels very much like a Michael Bay film.
I'll say right now, I'm not a big fan of the Turtles' re-design. They look too big, too bulky, too ripped. It's the Turtles are on steroids. That being said, the gag at the end where Michelangelo removes his mask so he won't frighten April does seem to be vintage Mikey.
I'm still not sure what to think. It's short. We don't get to see that much, so it's difficult for me to gauge. They really haven't given us much to go on. I will say this, though. It's not getting me as excited as the trailers for the 2007 animated film. That felt very Ninja Turtles. This...has a different energy.
Hopefully, between now and the film's August 8 release date, we'll get to see more. But until then, I remain cautiously optimistic.