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Back To The Nostalgia- Episode 2 Tmnt Vs. Micheal Bay's Tmnt

First Posted: Dec. 21, 2015, 8:54 a.m. CST
Last Updated: Dec. 22, 2015, 7:50 a.m. CST
Our Half-Shell Heroes React To their Micheal Bay Counterparts

In 1987, things were much more innocent back then. It was a time of surfer shows, “cut-it-out” moments and a fledgling MTV. Comics were not as mainstream as they are today. You had your Gold and Silver age and we were in a Bronze Age of sorts. There was the great gaming crisis coming off of 1984 and there was one of the most greatest parodies ever made: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1987, when I ventured into the cartoon schedule I caught a glimpse of April O' Neil wandering into the sewers being saved by someone with a bo-staff. When I heard that epic song at the beginning of the show, my parents and life were dead to me! You would need a crowbar to pry my tuccus away from TMNT. For the younger years, I ate, breathed, and shat that show. If you were to not let me have my 30 minutes in front of the T.V. when TMNT was on, I felt there would have been a huge rift in the time-space continuum as we know it. No other shows mattered. They were dead to me. I was so obsessed with this show, I wanted to live in the sewers before I knew how bad sewers actually smell.

Then it hit the screen. It was perfectly weird: 4 teenage turtles who practiced the art of ninjitsu and chowed down on pizza. This was so off-the-wall that it worked. And you want to know why the cartoon was made? Toys. Playmates produced this cartoon so we also got some of the coolest action figures known to man. Unfortunately they weren't all that sturdy as they would frequently limbs lose faster than a diabetic amputee. But then the unimaginable happened: we got a really good movie in 1990. And in 1990, we got arguably one of the greatest achievements in animatronic history: characters who could accurately express themselves and deliver the same comedic timing that we all know and love about the TMNT cartoon series. That movie was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie which was produced by a then independent film company known as New Line Cinema and co-produced by Golden Harvest. And we had Jim Henson on board—the same Henson that made all those awesome Muppet movies and Sesame Street not to mention Star Wars and Batman. As I write this even now Jim Henson shall is sorely missed in the field of animatronics , character modeling and make-up. I mean this guy made Ninja Turtles costumes believable. Not to mention there was the stunt team from Hong Kong. A fledgling New Line, threw their hat into the ring as mainstream producers and went all out. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a major success and it was one of the highest grossing independent films ever made. The turtles were perfect, the Shredder was perfect. Splinter was perfect. The formula was missing Krang, Bee-Bop and Rocksteady, but we didn't care. We got the Turtles in all their half-shell glory.

Because of this, New Line riding high off the original's success decided to put out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. We thought we were all going to see Bee-bop and Rocksteady from the original, but we got Tokka and Razar. We begrudgingly accepted this and we were still happy because it was the proper origin story for the Turtles. We could not have a better one and the turtles could do no wrong. With the eventual defeat of Shredder, things were well concluded and we could enjoy the rest of our childhood.

Then a malevolent force swept the land in 1993. Jim Henson stepped down and we got one of the worse concoctions known to man. A dark storm brewed in the back the minds of the fat cats. Why not make a Ninja Turtles where they travel through time? I can only speculate for an age that was spoiled on good animatronics: I'll take good bad CGI over bad animatronics any day. Some of the Ninja Turtles seriously are 5 Nights at Freddy's bad. Well to begin with we have multiple mediums. There was a lot going on for Ninja Turtles: comics, toys, and video games not to mention role-playing books. (This is a tangent, but I would love to see a better made, World of Darkness ™ TMNT. I would love to DM a Turtles game.) But getting back to the point here- we got an idea for a movie from another medium and that was Turtles in Time. Oh Konami, we used to hold you to the highest bastion of gaming greatness. This game was perfect. You could play your favorite turtle and travel through time! It had Shredder, Krang, Bee-bop and Rocksteady-- this would have made a stellar movie. But there was one catch: someone thought it was okay to make a movie of this proportion for 16 million dollars. The other caveat was the movie companies Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. wanted to make it more appeal-able to the Japanese: which is why we got the samurai bastardization of the Ninja turtles. Don't get me wrong, if the movie had better direction, it could have succeeded as samurai film as most normal mediums always came off as cool brooding warriors. No, this was more of an appropriation piece. I mean why have 4 ninja turtles sneaking around and being stealthy? The consumer paid to see 4 ninja turtles that snuck around in the shadows, cracking one-liners and outwitting their adversaries. Oh, and I should also mention there was a Japanese corporate company that was involved with the whole script. Apparently, it was so bad that Robbie Rist (the vioce of Michelangelo) actually had permission to alter some of his lines and jokes as Michelangelo just to do comedic damage control. Visually, it wasn't a bad idea: me and my friends thought having the turtles in feudal Japan fighting bad guys from the shadows would work. Except we didn't get them in the shadows. We got 4 creatures that were going through the motions with mediocre fight scenes and some of the worst acting in the franchise. Though I have to admit Casey Jones showing 4 guys from feudal Japan, how to play hockey was where most of the comedy lied with this film. It was horrible, so horrible.

Ok, that gigantic mishap wasn't enough when it came to bad movies because apparently we got “TMNT” (That's not the abbreviation by the way. It's the actual name of the movie) in 2007, which is so bland that it really isn't worth mentioning. It follows the fact that the Turtles defeated Shredder and gives them all jobs with a turtle vigilante trying to hide the fact that he was a vigilante when in fact they are all vigilantes anyways. Hypocrisy aside, the one good thing it provides is the fight scene between Leonardo and Raphael. Master Splinter however sounds like he started chain-smoking whole packs of Marlboro. Other than that, and its awkward plot, there was no real damage so moving on.

A year later in 2008 the 2003 TMNT cartoon series had a movie finale called Turtles Forever. The plot was Shredder found a multiverse of turtles and wanted them all dead through out many forms of media. It was surprisingly pretty good despite the cheesy plot and it was created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Turtles and the TMNT multiverse.

However, just when you thought you could not get any worse Micheal Bay comes in with his reboot of the Ninja Turtles. Buwooooooooooooooooooooon Buwoooooooooooooooooooooooooon Micheal Bay. In 2013, Bay had undergone some heat for picking up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He was chastised for not following the original story formula and wanted to make them aliens. So of course he took he from this and the storyline was scrapped. This lead to one of the biggest CGI disasters known to man: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. People will go on to cry, it's not canon. Stop it! Stop it all!

I hate to be the one to break this to you: who might feel the same way, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is my favorite cartoon. There are fans, fanboys, then people who take fanboy-dom to a whole new level. People were so pissed that he took over the series because he ruined Transformers for a lot of people. People again harped on him for not following the original. There were people that heard that the Turtles were going to be aliens. Peter Laird tweeted, this will be awesome. Fans of the 1987 canon were pissed. Then slowly the reveals came out: Megan Fox as April O' Neil? This made them more pissed as she was chastised as the sole reason for ruining the Transformers and no one seemed to mind the overly racist caricatures of the robots or robot testicles. When Transformers 2 went on the screen at my job at Sam's Club, I proceeded to hurl in the toilet from sickness. The three things that get attacked in TMNT is: not following the 1987 story arch, Megan Fox as April O' Neil and the design of the turtles. Let's take a look at all these things shall we.

So why not the 1987 storyline?

I have to pull myself out of being a mouth-frofing fanboy for one moment and ask this life-changing paradigm of a question: which original? And these droves of people will simply answer “the 1987 canon” --in which point I want to facepalm until I can bore my skull, pull my brain loose from its spinal column and launch it into ongoing traffic. Let me explain something to everyone: the 1987 canon is not the original! Ok, you know how there are Star Wars fans that can quote every single comic and back story arch that is not canon? With the Ninja Turtles, you cannot really do that. It started in 1983 just like a certain, dashing young writer. Then, it splintered off into multiple canons.

Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird used their tax return and some money from one of their family members. They were struggling comic book artists with a small following. They thought it would be funny to spoof one of their favorite comics—Dare Devil. In fact, Dare Devil is in the story. He is the blind kid that drops his pet turtles in the sewer. They are then discovered by a rat laying in Mutagen. And guess what? Not only has it been followed, it was abandoned on the Silver Screen in 1993. The original story arch had Splinter being a pet rat and Hamato Yoshi being his master. Oroku Saki kills Hamato in New York as he deserted the Foot Clan. The Shredder dies in the first comic before being mysteriously brought back in later renditions. With the Foot being weakened Karai steps in and forms an alliance with the Turtles: They will leave them alone if the Turtles leave the foot alone and of course this alliance gets broken by the disorganization of the Foot. The Foot are originally spoofs of the Hand which was the Dare Devils nemesis. Also if anyone is a fan of Wolverine, they should definitely check out the comic where Wolverine fights the Hand. Little did Eastman and Laird know, this would become bigger than they could ever imagine—and certainly bigger than Daredevil. And yes, a Daredevil and Ninja Turtles story line crossover needs to happen at some point sense they kind of share the same universe in a sense. Oh and get this—April O' Neal is a scientist that worked for TCRI along with Baxter Stockman (who was black and not white).

The 1990 movie followed the comic book for the most part, but it had some of the goofy habits of the 1987 run blended in there. Originally the scientist in Secret of the Ooze that helps the Turtles was going to reveal himself as an Utrom and they were supposed to develop a storyline off of that, but parents came in and dropped ban hammers on Mike's Nunchucks and budgeting constraints for the movie sequel forced them to put the breaks on that big reveal. The Utrom was in the original comic book series. Also you want to know why, you haven't gotten a Bee-bop and Rocksteady? Originally one of the original creators didn't care for them. But going back to this whole canon conundrum with the TMNT series, not only is the 1987 “canon” not “canon” in a sense, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles age in the original. So you have them around the age of 40 or so if you follow the original story arch. The original canon continues and you even get some talented guess comic artists like Stan Sakai who have a bromance with Eastman and Laird. The turtles even meet up with Swamp Thing so why haven't we got a TMNT/Swamp Thing crossover movie yet? Thge answer lies in the marketability of it all. You see, the hard core fans like me will embrace all these movie ideas, but there's splinter groups to these fans. In fact the canon got so confusing because anyone who wrote a TMNT comic received part ownership when it was authorized by Eastman and Laird. So splintered that they had to buy out their ownership and start a new story arch with Mirage. You see with a series like TMNT you have to throw the concept of canon out the window. Which canon? The Eastman and Laird canon where the Turtles are now in their 40s and Master Splinter is dead? The Archie Adventure Canon? Or how about the IDW canon that is partially made by one of the creators? And this is the canon that Micheal Bay chosen: the IDW canon which was designed by Kevin Eastman (one of the original creators).

There were small changes, but the IDW canon goes like this: April O' Neal is the daughter of a scientist who later goes on to become a reporter. The Turtles and Splinter are lab animals. There is a lab accident caused by the Foot and the Turtles and Splinter are launched into the sewers. The mutagen given Master Splinter a vast intellect which gives him the ability to read and understand different languages. The Turtles and Splinter are reincarnations of Hamato Yoshi and his 4 sons. Splinter finds a ninjitsu book and teaches them Ninjitsu. Because he is a reincarnation of a ninja master, Splinter is already assumed to know Japanese by design. A lot of people foam at the mouth over this in the movie, because it is just assumed without causality. Micheal Bay sort of leaves out that notion, but I think it was more as a plot device that was going to be revealed later. It is a series that is ongoing. In fact Kevin Eastman finally came to grips with Bee-bop and Rocksteady and gave us a grittier version of them. What Kevin Eastman did with the series was take things he liked from each cartoon canon and sort of blended it with the original comic story canon. So you have 1987 and 2003, references. Shredder is still Oroku Saki and he killed Hamato Yoshi to take over the Foot Clan. He just loosen the ties ins with the Dare Devil Comic. Oh and April originally took care of the turtles prior to the laboratory fire.

And to the ones who “love” the 1987 storyarch—most of them bowed out of the series during the dark skies seasons. Shredder was finally defeated and Lord Dregg was the stand-in foil. He was competent, menancing, and... boring. Yes, go back and watch the final 3 seasons of the 1987 canon. He was boring. This was when the Turtles had to compete with other shows like the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers and The Adventures of Batman. Most people just love the first 5 seasons of the Ninja Turtles and don't even know about the Dark Sky Seasons and the European Episodes. There were so many villains that were just over the top, non-translatable goofy. Unless you want an ugly CGI Pizza Face or a Slash who wants to look for Palm Trees, I suggest not bothering Bay after Bee-bop and Rocksteady. Face it: you liked the comedic chops of James Avery and the voice actors of Bee-bop and Rock Steady and the 4th wall breaking moments of Rob Paulsen as Raphael. Overall, the animation and narrative is dated and only certain aspects should be used that translate well into these multiple mediums.

The Shredder, Bee-Bop and Rocksteady are those mediums. Baxter Stockman is a medium too. Let's put this to rest. Micheal Bay's TMNT sequel will be good because he will use the ultimate fanboy trump card—fan service. Bay had people ask what they wanted in the new Turtles movie and he delivered. He is not the only producer. Go watch the trailer—there are 5 producers and 3 directors. Chances are, Bay will still follow the IDW storyline and this will be a good thing. We already got a TMNT with nice blend of 1987 and 1983 storyline canon. To remake a classic that is timeless, would just be foolish and Bay knows this. He is simply doing his reiteration take on another canon. I liked the fact the IDW canon was brought to the silver screen. We shouldn't have a closed mind when it comes to another person expressing his creativity (or lack there of) when it comes to this multi-canonized franchise. This was a fresher idea than just telling the same story again. You couldn't really do it anyways with the new technology that we had now. There are smart phones and CCTV everywhere. The Foot were made paramilitary because that simply made sense at that time. They are bringing back the Ninja Foot Clan due to mainly fan service. But, they will probably have some of the paramilitary technology too. Bee-bop and Rocksteady are in the IDW lineup, but will probably reflect their 1987 personalities. Baxter is finally black and his role will be done by Tyler Perry. The reason why he wasn't black in the 1987 series was mainly due to the negative portrayal of black men, but in actuality Baxter is a conflicted character that struggles with being bad and pleasing his mother with his hard work and intellectual accomplishments. So this film will probably have some comedic value to it with Tyler as Baxter along with the antics of Bee-bop and Rocksteady. And we just might get Baxter the fly, but I wouldn't mind seeing Baxter the cyborg either.

So why retain Megan Fox?

I am going to give Megan Fox the benefit of the doubt here. She's an actor playing a role. The lines given to her were so awful, I don't think even over acting Jeremy Irons could give them any appeal. We wanted April O' Neil as a news reporter and not so much April O' Neil the sexpot. It worked in the first Transformers because there was a better blend of the side story with Actual Cannibal Shia Labeouf and the Autobots. In the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie we wanted perhaps 80% of the movie time being about theTurtles, not about April and Vernon Fenwick. Otherwise, we would have paid for TMNT: the other guys. Honestly when it comes down to it all: Megan Fox for better or worse is too recognizable so it can't be a simple casting change. If you took Megan Fox out of TMNT: Out of the Shadows, you would not make it work. In the last TMNT trilogy, they could only do it because the actor who played April was easily forgettable. 2014's April isn't the case. Megan Fox has haters, but also has a huge fan-base. Taking her out might please a few people, but it would damage the series as a whole. It damaged Transformers when she had that feud with Micheal Bay, so think what it would do to TMNT's box office success. Now TMNT could easily weather a Fox-less performance, but we are really talking in terms of box office success for this movie. Nickelodeon doesn't need this movie to be successful as they have the rights to all the canons except for a select few that kept their ownership like the guy who wrote Swamp Thing. But why take a huge hit in profit on a movie when you don't have to?

Megan's performance in this movie does have to be good for her sake. Megan Fox is coming off of a bad movie being the 2014 Ninja Turtles, but her performance wasn't terrible. That's right I said it. She was okay given the cringe-worthy dialog (i.e. APRIL:So, you're... Ninja Mutant Turtle Teenagers?). And it isn't like she's terrible, most people actually rate her Transformer movies as her best work, but neglect to see her other stuff. http://www.ranker.com/list/megan-fox-movies-and-films-and-filmography/reference. In Hollywood, you're only as good as your last movie. If this Bay Trilogy, doesn't work out, she should probably part ways from it. It will be good though and people will forgive her for part one. This is how fair-weather fans work. I'm not a fan of Fox, but she's not terrible.

Ok, so addressing this whole image thing-

People had a right to complain about the Turtles Looking awful. The CGI was terrible for the turtles and it might be expensive to hire a ton of stunt actors. I get the reasoning. However, I don't have a problem with clothed ninja-turtles. They wore costumes in the 1987 show, but not all the time and they wore costumes in other renditions. This is a silly thing to fuss over. I heard a lot of people complaining that Wolverine wasn't wearing his yellow spandex, but X-Men was fantastic. Redesigns are okay if done right. I actually forgot about the clothes a bit although I thought giving Donatello glasses and suspenders like he was Urkel, a bit too much. Bay could have simply given him a labcoat. For the rest of the turtles and Splinter, they work. What I more have a problem with is how fugly they made the CGI. With 2016's redesign, most of the problems to this seem to have been addressed, but again, I see no point in nerdifying Donatello, but if Bay could give him any redeeming qualities, I would give him a pass.

Going Into This Film

Here's what's going to happen. Micheal Bay is a businessman and he doesn't want to lose money unless he somehow likes losing money. The 2014 TMNT made a profit, but it wasn't substantial on Hollywood standards. Micheal Bay needs to carefully blend in the IDW story arch while not ignoring fans. For him to make money with the 2nd Ninja Turtles, expect it to be the fan service express. His writers have to be witty and offer good comedic timing as well as being able to piece the plot points of the action sequences well. This is supposed to be a light-hearted IDW take, so I expect wittiness and please let it have good slapstick. What we don't want is awkward laughter. Robo-testicles is an example of this awkward laughter. If Micheal Bay does not succeed with this movie, he will probably be done as a director. And more than likely Bay will see JJ Abrams' beautiful creation of Star Wars Episode VII and will have a good model to go off of as to how to make fan-service work. Fan-service is what makes each generation of fans coming back for more, but in the 2018 Ninja Turtles, he will need to either make us want more or give the series his proper conclusion.

But Mr. Bay, don't expect mercy from me or any other critic. We are actually going light on you. You actually pulled off Ninja Turtles, and it wasn't totally terrible. It is still a bad movie given the jumpy CGI and plot point pacing. There were some good moments, but we need a good movie. If you mess up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and read the reviews, I along with many others will tear your directing and that movie entry apart so bad that post traumatic bad movie stress disorder will be the least of your worries. Of course I'm convinced that you bathe in the tears of fan-boys. But...here's what I want to see: good pacing. We know you can do good action scenes, but you have this tendency to mess it up with some abrupt CGI or noises that should not be in the scene. Buwoooooooooooooooon! Please, no buwooooooooooooooooooooons! No! Just no! Give us more scenes that are like that snow sequence. Also write better dialog. It was a pain to hear some of the actors trying to over act some parts. The guy who played Sachs was good, but he was already a billionaire which already made him “stupid rich.” While that was a good line, in the grand scheme of things the dialog was lack luster. Which brings me to Karai and the Foot along with other fan-service. Don't water down the fan-service by presenting too much of it. We all know Bee-bop, Rocksteady and Baxter can easily share a scene. Also for the love of PC, don't treat Megan Fox like a total sex doll. If Megan Fox is going to be sexy, it can't just be for the heck of it. That trampoline bit that you had in the last movie is an example of this. There was a weak plot tie-in that was never really addressed. From what I see in the trailer, Fox has some better dialog, but the whole school girl dress up is what we don't want to constantly see. If it is just a moment it's fine, but don't over emphasize it. Also Casey Jones and Shredder needs to be addressed—many were expecting their original motiffs of the characters. With Casey, I can see a short haired version of Jones working, but not a mask-less Shredder. We actually like the last Shedder, but this guy looks less intimidating.

Ok, next I'll analyze Final Fantasy VII's story canon. There are a few people asking me my thoughts on this. Stay tuned in until next time!


This article was written by Charles Eggleston. Charles lives in Korea. He has a background in...and enjoys...

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