Progress has been relatively slow on Paramount Pictures and Platinum Dunes' live-action reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, since the project was announced nearly three years ago. A handful of noteworthy writers have contributed to the process of bringing the reptilian martial artists back to non-animated (or hand-drawn) life, but the film has previously had little to no success in attracting a potential director.
That's changed at last, with new reports revealing that Jonathan Liebesman has officially begun talks to come aboard the revitalized TMNT ship. Assuming negotiations don't break down, the South African-born director will be working from a script draft penned most recently by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol duo Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec.
Variety says that plot details for the TMNT reboot are being kept secret for now, but that the film will be "a new reimagining" of the characters originally conceived by comic book artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, back in 1984. The plan was originally for the movie to be an origin story - unlike the 2007 CGI TMNT feature - but that could have changed sometime over the past few years of development.
The new TMNT flick could feasibly pick up with more experienced versions of the superhero characters than those featured in the original 1990 live-action movie - i.e., more of a "rebooting sequel" along the lines of this week's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance or the upcoming Liebesman-directed Wrath of the Titans. Liebesman's being hired on would make all the more sense, if that's the case.
Bear in mind, even if the TMNT live-action reboot does not revolve around Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael during their early days as crime-fighting, pizza-eating "masked" vigilantes, it also definitely will not continue the storyline from the last live-action installment, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (ie. the one where the Turtles time-traveled back to ancient Japan).
We can all agree: either a fresh start or revamping is very much needed, after that cinematic kerfuffle. No one expects high-art from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, but even the most die-hard of Turtle fans tend to disown the third chapter of the franchise.
Appelbaum and Nemec played an important role in revitalizing the Mission: Impossible property with last year's Ghost Protocol, with a script that featured an engaging ensemble/team dynamic that was (sorely?) missing from the previous two installments. If they bring something similar to the table for the TMNT reboot, that would add a nice layer of substance to the titular warrior squad's latest onscreen adventures.
Liebesman could use a good screenplay to work from, given that many of his previous films (Darkness Falls, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Battle Los Angeles) have turned either just so-so or bad, thanks more to poor screenwriting - rather than incompetent direction, on Liebesman's part. His Clash of the Titans followup could buck that trend, though, going by the promising early footage.
That's all to say: the talent working behind the scenes on the TMNT reboot is decent enough to suggest that this could be one of the better reboots/remakes on the horizon, all things considered.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot as more information is released.