The Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has had its share of controversies since it was announced. There was the leaked (unused) script that positioned the turtles as aliens. There was the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neil, which was problematic for viewers who didn’t like her work in Transformers. And then there was the redesign of the Turtles themselves, who now have noses instead of beaks and lips instead of … not lips.
And that’s all on top of the fact that "reboot" is something of a four-letter-word these days. Naturally, die-hard fans have been more than a little concerned about the whole thing. Would these Ninja Turtles resemble the ones they remembered from the comics, the ‘90s cartoon, or the original movie? Would this reboot be a worthy successor?
Today, Paramount and producer Andrew Form (The Purge: Anarchy) invited us to watch two scenes from the upcoming film, one from early on in the story and one from closer to the third act.
The film, which releases in about three weeks (from the time of this writing), isn’t completely finished and ILM is working hard to get all of the visual effects for the film done (with good reason: this is a film that has six completely computer-generated characters, including the four Turtles, Splinter, and Shredder). As a result, some shots, especially in the second scene, still look a little raw.
A couple of things before we delve into the footage:
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are teenagers, despite some rather misleading toys.
- According to Form, William Fichtner is not playing Shredder. He's playing Eric Sachs, who works for Shredder, but Shredder, who will be wearing a mechanized samurai suit in the film, is an entirely different character. There is some evidence to back this up - in the most recent trailer, Fichtner says to a shadowy figure, "We're taking your armor to the next level." It should be noted, however, that Fichtner himself told the press last year that he was playing Shredder, so perhaps there's more to this story.
The first scene is, presumably, our introduction to the Turtles in the film, and can be glimpsed a few times in the second trailer. While April O'Neil has been taken hostage in the subway by the nefarious Foot Clan, the Turtles, in classic Ninja Turtle style, turn off all the lights, swoop in, and save the day then hightail it without being seen - except, that is, by April.
Obviously, she follows them, and that leads to the scene that was shown in the first trailer where April and the Turtles are on a Manhattan rooftop and Michelangelo says, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s just a mask!"
The second scene, as previously stated, was a little rougher in terms of the presented CGI, coloring, et cetera, but fans shouldn't worry - we were assured that the film would be in the can (with completed post-production effects) in about ten days. Again, viewers have probably seen some of the scene’s footage in the trailers, specifically the part where Raphael – in slow motion – slams his shell into a humvee.
This scene is sort of the Michael Bay-style chase scene of the film, though it’s tonally quite a bit different, as Bay is only a producer. It features wall-to-wall havoc and over the top action as April, her cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), and the Turtles are chased by Foot Clan members down a mountainous cliff-side in a semi-truck. Eventually, most of the Turtles are sliding down the mountain using their shells as sleds, while simultaneously fending off various Foot Clan vehicles with their weapons.
The tone of all this – from the humor to the action – is actually quite similar to the cartoon. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that the film comes across as a live-action cartoon of sorts. When the Turtles are climbing on the semi-truck or sliding down the snowy mountain, physics go right out the window.
Speaking of humor, there’s a lot of it. A lot. While there could be grim or gritty moments in the final film, the footage that was shown featured a fairly light tone and a steady stream of jokes - usually from Mike and Raphael. Some of these jokes work, while others (particularly the jokes about how attractive April O’Neil is) were less successful.
How does the CGI stack up with regard to the Turtles themselves?
Well, there’s no question that you’re looking at computer-generated creations, but part of that’s due to the fact that these are fantastical creatures - fantastical characters that look believable within the context of this world. No, these guys don’t come across as realistically as, for example, Caesar the ape in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – and it’s doubtful any of the motion capture performers are going to be nominated for acting awards – but the film isn't interested in that sort of realism anyway.
All in all, I came away from the footage thinking that the finished product will likely be a faithful adaptation of the cartoon. But will that be enough to reel in the already concerned old school fans? We'll have to wait and see.
What say you, Screen Ranters? Are you looking forward to the TMNT reboot? Drop us a line in the comments.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, hits theaters August 8th, 2014. Expect to see something from the film at San Diego Comic-Con next Thursday.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.
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