One month ago, Paramount released the second trailer for the new Ninja Turtles film, Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and my brain feels like it is trying to tear itself apart. As a kid in the 90’s, I ADORED those turtles (Space Cadet Raph used to protect me from monsters at night) and had a blast with the first two movies (I was blissfully spared from Turtles in Time). As I grew older I learned about the comics, one time accidentally stumbling into an issue of Body Count, and found an old Eastman and Laird issue while browsing at a flea market. It was jarring to see my funny turtles strait up murdering the shit out of the very human Foot Clan, but the simple black and white style of the Eastman/Laird comic was so different from everything I had seen before, I was hooked.
Fast forward to 2006 when one of my other childhood favorites, Transformers hit theaters, I was beyond excited. Giant robots beating the crap out of other giant robots? TAKE MY MONEY! I was so much younger then, so much more naive.
At first I simply glanced over Shia Labeouf’s cringeworthy Sam Witwickey, eager to hear Peter Cullen’s booming voice as he commanded the Autobots to “Roll out” but the magic soon faded away. The film seemed eager to push the Autobots into the background as we were forced to Witwicky and friends get into all kinds of hilarious hijinks.
The sequels didn’t get any better either. I actually fell asleep twice during the overbolown mashy robo battle at the end. Now, I will admit, the source material Bay and company had to draw from (most specifically, the original cartoon) was not exactly “ground breaking” to begin with, it was mostly a marketing vehicle for toys. That being said, shows like Beast Wars and Transformers Prime and issues upon issues of comics beg to differ. Simple roots should not be an excuse for shallow writing.
After Transformers, I developed a passionate loathing for everything Michael Bay touched, and when I heard the news he was in charge of a new Turtles flick, I LOST MY MIND.
So the first Micheal Bay Turtle movie came and went, being the overblown turd I thought it was going to be (cynical much?). Shreder was a walking Ginsu commercial, April O’Neil became a pair of boobs with vacuous/sometimes painful dialogue, and more ridiculous fight scenes that defy the simplist laws of physics (how the Hell did Raph bust out of that van?). At the end of the day, I was left wondering if anyone involved with that film had read the comics, Hell, even watched the cartoon. It’s almost like they did a rudimentary image search of “Ninja Turtles” and yelled “Done!”
Time passed, and I attempted to ignore rumblings of a sequel. I expected any further films in this franchise to follow the same trajectory of Transformers, big explosions, mediocre plot, and annoying casting. Then a friend insisted I watch the trailer, and after much convincing, I relented.
I was FLOORED. Bebop AND Rocksteady (who I had been pining for ever since the minor let down of Tokka and Rahzar from Turtles II), actual ninjas in the Foot Clan, Casey Jones, a legit Baxter Stockman, and I still can’t believe I saw Kraang. Despite my efforts to remain cynical, I was genuinely excited, and part of me felt dirty for it. Bay is good at making slick trailers, like an angler fish made of explosions, so part of me was still guarded, waiting for that second shoe to drop. But the deed is done, he did it. I am going to see Ninja Turtles.
Please don’t suck….