Hey dudes. I don’t have a book review today. I’d like to take some of your time to address a Topic in Classic Teen Movies.
Michael Bay recently told TMNT fans to “take a breath and chill” about his plans to do a new take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… mythology(?). (If you haven’t heard the newest rumors, he’s changing the title to “Ninja Turtles” and making them into aliens and not mutants).
I’m chill, Michael. I’m just going to calmly point out why your movie will probably never top the 1990 version. For me. Based on your track record as a director. Just a calm personal assessment of my tastes vs. your perceived tastes.
1. HENSON, no CGI
CGI may be cheaper, but it’s harder to give it any soul. Jim Henson rules. Case closed. I don’t think M. Bay’s turtles will give us a more fun or realistic moment than this dance:
2. Rad and Funky Soundtrack (reminiscent of Labyrinth in some places)
including terrible rapping over the end credits (it’s by Partners in Kryme)
Nowadays, movies have innocuous composed scores with moneymaking “soundtracks” featuring songs that never even get into the movie, except for one blustering, sounds-like-everything-else rock song that plays over the credits. Where did all the funky synthesized horn sections go? The made-to-order raps? The first time I really noticed this was the Nickelback song on the end of the Spiderman movie.
3. Normal “hot” April, not Megan Fox April
Hey look! April looks her age. She looks like she shops for clothes and hair products on the budget of a news anchor from a lower-tier station. She’s relatable. She’s sort of goofy.
We all know what Michael Bay thinks leading ladies should look like. He’s interested in creating extreme worlds filled with only the most beautiful people.
4. Romantic interest is kind of assholey libertarian guy in sweatpants
At one point Casey Jones mistakes “claustrophobic” for “homosexual” and gets offended. It’s so stupid. Why did I have a crush on him as a kid? I guess I’m just into long hair.
This is probably not too far from a current Michael Bay romantic lead. But I think Casey Jones is more authentic of a character. Because I’m being contrarian. He’s a guy who’s into vigilante justice and thinks his misogyny is just good gentlemanly manners. He never stops wearing sweatpants. Never.
5. Enemy wears sparkly pants
Speaking of pants. Shredder rocks the glitter. Shredder will probably be all molded rubber a la Batman or futuristic Teflon/plastic armor. Sparkly polyester spandex is much more practical for being a ninja. It also shows that he’s confident with his self-presentation because real men can wear anything and still be vengeful tyrants whose plan to rule the NYC black market involves being the mob boss of a bunch of teenage hooligans.
6. Tiny animated turtle saying “RADICAL RADICAL RADICAL”
self-explanatory. This will definitely not be part of the origin sequence for the new Ninja Turtles because it is not serious or corny. It is pure joy.
7. Old NYC
I can see this place being dangerous, full of people living on the margins. A place where you can watch your TV on your fire escape and have it stolen out from under your nose. A place where mutant turtles live in the sewers and occasionally go to movies disguised only in fedoras and trench coats that barely cover their bulging green calf muscles. The class divide is just roiling beneath the surface.
Today? Not so much. My new stereotypical view of New York City is that it’s full of rich people and no one is allowed to show art that is in any way made of cow dung. Mutant Turtles would stand no chance here.
8. Sam Rockwell
Will Sam Rockwell be in the New Ninja Turtles movie? I guess it’s possible. And he’s usually great in whatever he does. But he won’t have the vital naivete and attitude of youth, like he does in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
9. Farm interlude with voiceover and terrible drawings
Do you think that for even one moment Michael Bay would stop an explosive spectacle of alien turtle action to have some downtime on an old farm:
where the characters can catch a break from their enemies and commune spiritually with their lost Rat Master through a campfire:
with unexpected voiceover narration by April who has decided to document everything earnestly-drawn colored pencil??
I feel sorry for the children of today because this was my favorite part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And they will not have such an interlude.
10. Fights where you can actually see what’s happening instead of first person shaky-cam fighting.
I’m so over shaky cam fighting. I’m looking at you, Hunger Games. Most directors these days seem to disagree with me, and Michael Bay is no different. The action in Transformers was basically a CGI explosion of shaky silver and grey things rushing around. I’d rather watch the classic Henson-created Turtles fight their way around old NYC, because I can actually see what’s going on when they fight.
All screenshots captured by me. More are here.