Friday, 28 March 2014


Friday, 28 March 2014

I don't mind admitting I was a pretty big fan of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles back in the late-'80s and early-'90s (yes, the UK censor replaced the world Ninja from the title*) I'm not alone in this because the cartoon was a real phenomenon of the time, and that was the driving force behind my pre-teen fandom. The merchandise was also pretty cool and the live-action films entertained me as a youngster (ignoring that horrendous third one).

TMNT is a franchise that's been kept alive over the past 25 years with various cartoon remakes and even a live-action series in 1997-98 but it's fair to say the heyday of the Turtles has long since passed. Now feels like an appropriate time to attempt to revitalise the franchise (following a CGI cartoon film in 2007) with a big-budget film from producer Michael Bay—who's clearly hoping to sprinkle some Transformers magic on yet another 1980s kids show.

The first trailer has been released, and it doesn't horrify me. I really liked the Jim Henson-created animatronic Turtle suits of the 1990s movies, but it's obvious the motion-capture technology we have today is a quantum leap ahead of what they could achieve. This trailer doesn't contain a lot of the Turtles or any large-scale fighting, but they look like a good visual update. The cartoon characters were only really differentiated by bandana colour and weapon choice, but you can already tell each Turtle looks unique in terms of armour, shell and facial features.

None of the actors playing the Turtles are known names, so the star-powers is coming from the humans: Megan Fox as reporter April O'Neil (appropriately sexy, inappropriately brunette), William Fichtner as Shredder (genius casting), Arrested Development's Will Arnett as cameraman Vernon Fenwick (um, okay), and Whoopi Goldberg as someone called Bernadette Thompson.

Who knows if this movie will work with mass audiences like Transformers did, but at least this is a property that has always had some level of characterisation and imagination. Michael Bay thankfully isn't directing, but is Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) much better? I just hope the film is fun and perhaps taps into some areas the '90s films couldn't because of budget. It makes sense to have Shredder as the main villain, but here's hoping they at least set-up some of the cartoon's crazier ideas (like Krang the brain-like alien who sat inside an automaton's stomach, controlling a giant mechanical underground sphere).

TMNT premieres 8 August in the US and 17 October in the UK.

* They also edited the show to rarely show Michaelangelo's nunchuks, which were banned in 18-rated movies at the time.