Easily one of the most contentious film productions of the past year, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has faced a steady stream of fan outrage – ever since it was first announced that divisive filmmaker Michael Bay would produce the project. Starting with the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neil to reports that the titular heroes would simply be Ninja Turtles of extraterrestrial origin (not Mutant Teenagers), passionate fans of the original Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic series – as well as the subsequent animated shows – have been extremely outspoken about the modern remake’s repeated attempts to defile the beloved brand.
Still, anyone on DeviantArt can update the look of the Turtles, and without seeing the characters in motion, the designs only go so far in providing an idea of what to expect from the feature film. Now, with only five months before the film’s release, we’re finally getting a look at Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the form of an official teaser trailer.
In addition, we now have an official synopsis for the TMNT reboot:
The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.
Unsurprisingly, the footage is short on overt shots of the TMNT heroes – which will no doubt be featured more extensively in the first full trailer for the film. We get a few good looks at the more “realistic” Turtle designs, along with brief glimpses of the shadowy do-gooders in action, but the teaser spends the majority of its time setting up a new version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backstory and world.
Interestingly, the footage is narrated by Eric Sachs/The Shredder (William Fichtner) who, based on his voiceover, indicates that he, along with April O’Neil’s father, created the Turtles (with Ooze) for the purpose of curbing unchecked criminals in New York City. Why a criminal mastermind like Shredder would want to fight crime is, of course, unclear at this point. It’s certainly likely that Shredder’s narration is unreliable and that he actually created the Turtles as weapons to gain an upper hand against competing crime organizations – until the heroes turned on their creator. Another possible explanation could see Shredder setting out with the intention of enforcing justice, only to become corrupted and power-hungry in the process.
Some fans will, without question, balk at the reveal that April’s father was also involved in creating the Turtles but, in terms of delivering the best movie possible, the choice helps provide a more meaningful reason for the reporter to become so obsessed with this particular story (and its heroes). A valiant investigator, willing to put her life in danger for “the truth,” works at surface level but connecting April’s father to Shredder and the Turtles provides a lot more room for human drama to go along with all the Ninja fighting. Plus, mysterious scientific experiments should also open-up the film’s core storyline – so that the filmmakers can explore plenty of fan-favorite characters and ideas in subsequent installments (see: The Amazing Spider-Man movie universe).
Despite all of the cartoonish elements, the trailer’s tone is actually pretty serious – and reaffirms Hollywood’s ongoing effort in providing every superhero franchise a “dark” and “gritty” reboot. That said, don’t expect Platinum Dunes and Nickelodeon Movies to pass up the opportunity to appeal to a whole new generation of Turtle fans – with characters like Michelangelo (not to mention Will Arnett’s Vernon Fenwick) running around, there’s sure to be plenty of humor (and Cowabunga) to go along with the shadowy Ninja action.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will open in theaters on August 8th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.