Kevin Eastman Talks ‘TMNT’ Reboot, Mo-Cap Turtles & ‘The Raid’ Influence

Published 3 years ago by , Updated June 18th, 2012 at 10:56 am,

kevin eastman ninja turtles reboot Kevin Eastman Talks TMNT Reboot, Mo Cap Turtles & The Raid Influence

Many a fan was overjoyed by the initial reports that Paramount had indefinitely delayed the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action reboot, Ninja Turtles, due to studio heads’ dissatisfaction with the script (in its current form).

Hopes that the project could be outright canceled were quickly dashed, though, as it was thereafter revealed that the film will simply be arriving six months later than originally planned – in order to allow the budget to be reduced some $10-20 million to around $125 million, according to a later report from Deadline.

Prior to that, TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman (who’s “officially consulting” on Ninja Turtles) participated in a discussion with about the Turtles property. Eastman responded to fan criticism over Bay’s involvement with the live-action reboot, calling him “a great director” – a statement we’re sure no one will disagree with (sarcasm alert!) – and firing back at criticisms about how Ninja Turtles will tweak the Turtles origin story - they are now full-blown extraterrestrials:

“As soon as ['TMNT' co-creator Peter Laird] and I had freedom, we took [the Turtles] into outer space and introduced the TCRI aliens [a.k.a. the Ultroms] and then we took you to the origin of the ooze, so they [the Turtles] have alien origins, they are from outer space… ['Ninja Turtles'] has to be well-grounded in Turtle history and lore, we don’t wanna take that away from the fans.”

What Eastman highlights here is a heavily-debated point of contention among the Turtle fan community: does it make a difference, if the Turtles are simply aliens (or, rather, “inter-dimensional beings”), as opposed to be being terrestrial reptiles who are affected by a mutagen created by non-Earthlings? Put mildly, it’s an issue which has stirred up the Turtles fanbase something fierce – and will continue to do so, until more general information about the Ninja Turtles project is revealed.

teenage mutant ninja turtles reboot jonathan liebesman Kevin Eastman Talks TMNT Reboot, Mo Cap Turtles & The Raid Influence

Eastman avoided going into depth about how the Turtles’ origin story is being tweaked for Ninja Turtles. However, he did address the possibility that Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphel could be brought to life via motion-capture performance – given the acclaim garnered by recent mo-cap characters, such as Caesar (Andy Serkis) in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in The Avengers:

“['Ninja Turtles' director Jonathan Liebesman] is a huge fan of Andy Serkis in ['Rise of the Planet of the Apes']… we’re deciding whether it’s suits with CG enhancements or full CG.”

The former is an approach similar to that used in Where the Wild Things Are, which combined Jim Henson company animatronics with computer-animated faces, in order to bring the eponymous creatures to life. Although the mix of practical and digital tools worked well for that project, it might be best for Ninja Turtles to go the mo-cap route; as Apes demonstrated, it allows non-human characters to be much more maneuverable and graceful in motion (something giant martial artist turtles call for).

Furthermore, Eastman name-dropped two martial arts flicks that are influencing the fighting style in Ninja Turtles - namely, Fist of Legend and The Raid (known as The Raid: Redemption in the U.S.). The former is a Jet Li vehicle, where the action often resembles that from a classic Kung Fu movie, while the latter… well, watch the trailer below, then read our review (to learn more about what you’re missing):

Despite not being a hit at the U.S. box office, The Raid has raised the bar for martial arts choreography in film. Hence, it’s no surprise that Bay and Co. would be looking to “the cool kid” for cues on how to handle the fighting in Ninja Turtles.

If nothing else, Liebesman has proven to be a competent (if unremarkable?) action movie director, with Wrath of the Titans marking a noticeable improvement over his directing work on Battle Los Angeles. Just don’t expect his Ninja Turtles reboot to be so gritty and sophisticated (nor “edgy” and violent) as the Raid comparison indicates.

Ninja Turtles is currently scheduled to open in theaters around the U.S. on May 16th, 2014.


Source: [via CBM], Deadline

Head image by ~DFresh300 on deviantART

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  1. the two creators (Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird) seem to be in sharp contrast on their opinions of Michael Bay and turtles from space.

    • both creators wrote the comics that sent them into space… they are not in contrast to say that the ooze has alien/space origins… bay is just the producer… he is not directing

  2. The first live action movie was essentially about the Turtles learning how they would manage without the guidance of their aging mentor Splinter. The story contrasted nicely with Shredder’s plan to recruit orphans as an army of thieves. It had a story structure from the comics that only readers would recognize and plenty of nods to the popular kids cartoon.
    None of that had anything to do with Utrom origin.
    This whole debacle leads me to believe the writing is focused on irrelevant issues. Not holding out a lot of hope for this movie.

    • Wow. I need rewatch the original. The orphan angle went completely over my head. Granted I was 6 in 1995 lol

      • The original came out in 1990. I honestly think the first one set the bar so high it hasnt been able to be duplicated. Its by far the best of the bunch and I cant see CGI topping the original movie…Planet of the Apes: Rise of the apes was great but at the end of the day I couldent get around the fact it was a cartoon set in a real world environment.

        22 years later TMNT is a classic and time tested film…honestly it will be hard to top.

  3. ugh. i’m calling it now. this will bomb.

  4. Lol, i got a silly thing to say. I do remember the Turtles having no problem breathing in space in the crossover episode of Power Rangers In Space while Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation excisted in the same universe of the films despite changes on the show & some fan’s reactions.

    • In the most recent Ninja Turtle tv show, ‘TMNT’ (which is pretty much EXACTLY like the original source material – i.e. the comics), the turtles can’t actually breath in space, but they can slow down their oxygen intake to an almost non-breathing state my means of intense meditation.

      • Not hard to believe in when you consider turtles swim.

  5. Hope they use mo-cap suits like the ones in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Hope this movie is good sounds like an interesting new take on the characters i love the 3 originals they made a huge piece of my childhood. And with the original creators on board saying it sounds like its gonna be good then maybe it will be. I like John Libesman so i hope he does a good job dircting.

  6. I’m a big Turtles fan, and as much as I didn’t like the idea of them being aliens, I think the fans in general took it a little too far. Even if they are aliens, that doesn’t mean the entire movie will be bad; if the acting, the action, the script, and the special effects are all good, then I don’t see how it wouldn’t overall be a good movie regardless of ONE change to the origin. I don’t see how that one thing would make the list of good things irrelevant. It isn’t like they’re, say, making them humans that simply look like turtles or something.

    Again, I’m a big fan of the mythology and that change was pretty unfaithful, but I do think the fans took things too far. Especially if the film ends up being great in all of the core areas, I think the fanbase’s knee-jerk reaction was a little too great. Just my opinion, though.

  7. Mo Cap body’s, animatronic faces like Where The Wild Things Are, turtles flipping around like Amazing Spiderman. If anything, TMNT will LOOK awesome I’m sure

  8. Will not watch turtles from outer space. I will watch teenage mutant ninja turtles; which is what they are.

    Michael Bay and company are creating something totally different which is why the name change makes sense. It appears like they are basing it loosely on the original material and doing whatever they want to try to make money. No wonder the fans are angry. Hollywood is destroying their childhood one property at a time…

  9. “so they [the Turtles] have alien origins, they are from outer space…”
    Uuuuummm, no.
    Just because the ooze (which was created on earth by aliens) that MUTATED them into MUTANT Turtles was of alien origin, doesn’t make them “from outer space”. They aren’t ALIEN turtles, they’re mutated turtles that come from earth and live on earth.

    Someone needs to tell the co-creator a bit about these characters he co-created…

    • “As soon as ['TMNT' co-creator Peter Laird] and I had freedom, we took [the Turtles] into outer space and introduced the TCRI aliens [a.k.a. the Ultroms] and then we took you to the origin of the ooze, so they [the Turtles] have alien origins, they are from outer space… ['Ninja Turtles'] has to be well-grounded in Turtle history and lore, we don’t wanna take that away from the fans.”

      he is talking about the ooze, not the turtles, its the misuse of parenthesis that whoever wrote this quote is using to stir stuff up between fans… gees the creators got to bring the turtles into the realm of space for their love of star wars… and people are goin ape-__t for all this, we should be extatic that there is another movie coming out! it would be amazing to see the Ultroms! :o but i doubt that would happen! :o

  10. The turtles need to be suits with CGI enhancements. I don’t see how they can’t make them entirely with practical effects. The first two films did it extremely well. Just do it better. Why the hate for anything not CGI?

  11. And now the Bay cronies come forward and express building interest, some are just now calling the idea a flop. (too funny)

    What’s interesting to me is the desperate attempt to create a buzz over the idea by making reference to the only martial arts movie in recent memory. It’s lame. -Why. just why.

  12. …is presentation, in terms of looks and style. Producing, okay, directing, he’s not much of a storyteller. As for Liebesman, I have only seen the first Titans, and it sucked. Apparently Wrath was a noticeable improvement over the first. I have not seen Battle: LA, but the gist I got was that it was “okay.”

    What the creators and Bay all need are lessons in English and public speaking. As @Avengers pointed out, if the ooze is created by aliens, that does not make the turtles alien. *By definition*, what they are saying is not what is actually -supposedly- happening. I.E, the turtles are not actually from space, even if some of their DNA make up is.

    The last apes movie was awesome, if they can manage mo-cap like that or better, I will be thoroughly impressed. I agree with the approach of having everything be and look real unless CG is the only viable option otherwise. In terms of looks and presentation, even voice, the Turtles looked the best in the 2nd movie, especially Don, who doesn’t sound like a surfer in that one. However, the Turtles need tl ook more like humanoid *Turtles*. Where are the beaks? :P The first Turtles had the best story. The third Turtles was direct-to-video and a cheesy but fun joke.

    Suits, a little puppeteering, facial mo-cap where puppeterring fails. Everything needs to look true-to-life. *ONLY* use full CG where it is *NOT* possible to physically do something with the previously mentioned methods. EVERYTHING HAS TO LOOK TRUE-TO-LIFE. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE DONNY SOUND LIKE A “NERD” like he sounds in everything after the third TMNT. Keep him sounding the way he did in the 2nd one, I thought he was bad-ass.

    I think the creators have made so much money of their franchise that they aren’t overly concerned with how it goes down as long as it loosely fits their intentions.

    • Yup…sellouts !!! Throw enough money at them, and they fold.

  13. mo cap wont work for the martial arts stuff and the suits will make the movie look cheap (though back then it was cool).

    this should not be happening, or at least not the way these f***ing morons are doing it, i honestly dont understand what their obsession is with space and screwing the source through the rear end, if they cant make a proper adaptation of something so many people love and grew up with then why bother at all, why not just make a movie that was inspired by tmnt and call it something else (what they should have done with the max payne movie and hitman (to an extent)).

  14. Saw the original in theathers and loved it !!! But anytime Bay touches something, he bascially RAPES it. He is great at action, but story telling? He can hold hands with George Lucas when it comes to that.

  15. YES! Teenage “MUTANT” Ninja Turtles. Not Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles… That is what I grew up watching. That’s what I want to SEE!!! “WWF” not WWE The “Winston” Cup, not the Nextel Cup. The Knickerbocker Arena, not the Pepsi Arena. World Gym, not Planet Fitness! Tobey Maguire, not Andrew Garfield! James Cameron, not McG! Bring back The Noid, and the 7up Cool Spot! Bring back Sugar Bear! Bring back Sugar Smacks and Ecto-Cooler. Bring back the Cookie Crook! Bring back “SURGE” and Dunk-a-Roo’s! I want P.B. Crisps and Hostess TMNT Green vanilla pies!!!!!

    • You forgot The Soggies from Cap’n Crunch

  16. man, if they do mo-cap and get the team behind “the raid” on it. for sure, at least the fighting of the foot will be fantastic. i loved “the raid”. in the theater, it was so epic. an action lovers DE-light! hopefully they get the story going. earth turtles get mutated by alien ooze, i can live with that.

  17. Im really annoyed at Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman…seems like Greed wins again, Matt Groening would have never prostituted the simpsons like this. I can respect creators who dont sell out just to make a few extra bucks…this is really irritating, makes me wish I never really grew up liking TMNT franchise. Good Memories I own the first two movies…At least I can show my kids the real/ original turtles before they watch Michael Bays half baked attempt.

    • the first two movies do not make them the original… read the comics… the creators have not sold out… they said the ooze is of alien origin, look at their quote.. its the writer who parenthesis the wrong things… they have not sold out… people are just complaining to complain… gees when we had the ‘original’ we weren’t crying over that stuff, we just enjoyed it! now as technology evolves, we are looking for anything to whine about… i can not believe what our kids will be like when they are older! :o

  18. I’m a big fan of Pratical effects and make-up. The original ninja turtles was awesome because of this fact. I was 17 years old when I saw Ninja turtles opening weekend back in 1990; and it was a full house; great crowd filled with both children and adults. We cheered, laughed, and had a great time. The soundtrack was booming and people walked out of there with a big smile. Today, movies have thrown CGI at us way to much. Granted, Rise of The Planet of the Apes was a damned good movie; but it was a bit distracting with the CGI. Today, they rush everything with the CGI. I still find The original Star Trek movies with the models better than what JJ ABRAMS’ STAR TREK gave us when it comes to the spaceships. You can never replace a practical effect/ makeup or model.

  19. I wonder if Casey Jones will be in this, or April. One thing is sure, April better be hot. And please let’s have a cool-looking Shredder. It would be nice to see Bebop and Rocksteady – they are long overdue on a film appearance.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there an original idea for TMNT 2 that had Bebop and Rocksteady in place of Tokka and Rahzar? They were pretty lame replacements, if that’s the case.

    • April being hot is really important to you, huh?

    • It’s Bay we’re talking about here. Of course she will be hot and won’t be able to act worth a damn.

    • original? o no i hope they don’t come out! :o please read the comics… i hope they get a great splinter, the one for the new show is amazing!

  20. I mean Tokka and Rahzar were lame replacements. :)

  21. @Homework: Actually, yeah, it is important. Eastman and Laird thought so too, when they first created her. She wasn’t that hot in the cartoon, although she was nice to look at. But like Kels said,it’s a Bay movie. She will be hot. Acting talent, however, is doubtful.

  22. The only problem I have with the Turtles being alien is all in the title. TMNT – Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles. As aliens I don’t see how ‘mutant’ fits in the name anymore. So do we call now call it TANT – Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles?

  23. I wish they would just come out and say whether the TURTLES or the OOZE will be from space. They keep talking like its the same thing. “Yeah, they’re gonna be aliens–the ooze was alien in the comics.” WHICH ONE IS IT??? They still have not mentioned Splinter in any of the news about this movie, which (to me) illustrates the reasons the fans think this is a big change. If they are aliens who learned ‘ninja’ on whatever planet they came from, there is no need for Master Splinter, making this the enormous insult to the original subject matter that the fans are fearing.!/TheNinjaTurtlesAreNotAliens

  24. Aliens/Krang bring mutagen to Earth in the form of TCRI canisters. Canister falls off truck and creates humanoid turtles. This was the origin as described in TMNT #1 (The Black and White version). Calling the Turtles ‘alien’ is a mistake, but if you factor in their mutation and what caused it there is definitely ‘otherworldly’ factors. There always was through the comics even before the TV shows and movies.

    • thank you!! :o finally someone who reads the comics! :o what is wrong with fans going planet of the ape-sh_T for all this bay and alien… who cares, im just happy a new movie is coming out, with a bigger budget… no jim henson, but at least more ninja acrobatic kick ass!