Michael Bay Punches Us Right in the Childhood
I just can’t hold back my 2 cents any longer. I’m old enough to know that arguing semantics on the internet about fictional stories and characters is an immense waste of time and energy best spent doing just about anything else. I don’t go off on fanboy rants, even when it comes to Star Wars, a subject I’m pretty intimately familiar with. But I’ve found myself sinking deeper and deeper into Hater territory when the subject turns to Michael Bay. I mostly enjoyed the first Transformers movie for the actiony explosiony noise-gasm it was. I even looked past the ‘robots having lips’ issue. But Bayformers 2 left a bad enough taste in my mouth to make me avoid the third film altogether. This latest thing though … is just ludicrous.
Bay and his cronies are going forward with a reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action films. You remember those right? Technologically advanced animatronic costumes developed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Chop socky action. Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap!! So when Bay started touting his plans for the reboot at Nickelodeon’s Upfront conference, it should come as no surprise that there would be backlash when he spoke these words:
“Kids are going to believe, one day, that these turtles do exist, when we are done with this movie. These Turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.”
Alien race?!?! From outer space? E.T. phone home? ‘Scuse me Mr Bay, you do realize this is called T.M.N.T. right? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not Teenage Alien Intergalactic Ninja Things. Cuz that would be T.A.I.N.T. and no one wants to watch 2 hours of your taint. This is a franchise that’s been around longer that you’ve been directing films, if you count that Playboy Video Centerfold you did back in 1990 as a ‘film’. You can’t just twist the core of a character into something else and expect people to accept it. You wouldn’t make Scooby-Doo a cat. You wouldn’t give James Bond a job as a fry cook. You wouldn’t make a Bad Boys sequel with a couple of white guys. Then again, YOU might.
If all that weren’t bad enough, once Bay got word of what the whole of the Internet thought of his plans for our heroes in a half-shell, he felt the need to respond:
“Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.”
Let’s break that down a little bit shall we?
He made this statement on his official web site, but instead speaking TO the fans, he takes the tone of speaking to the press or something ABOUT the fans.
“The have not read the script”. Fair enough. Let’s see it. I’d like to read this script. Who is it being penned by? Will you be making it available somewhere for people to make a more informed decision about your changes? No? Then zip it.
“working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles”. Alright, I’ll bite. Who? The creators of the characters, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird should be the only two possible answers to that question and the two had a bit of a falling out, causing Laird and the Mirage Group (the publisher) to buy out all of Eastman’s rights to the franchise, so really, this should just be Peter Laird we’re talking about, but no names have been mentioned in any press release I’ve read. Names that have come up are Bay’s, Platinum Dune’s (Bay’s production company) co-owner Brad Fuller and producer Andrew Form, all working with Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures.
“Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place.” Forgetting for just a moment how condescending that comes off, who is Bay to decree what reasons we became fans? If those reasons include 4 turtles and a rat transformed by mutanogetic ooze into anthropomorphic martial arts masters then you’ve missed your mark by a mile.
Now, I have a question for Nickelodeon. Knowing all this, Bay’s intention to bring the ninjas from the stars instead of the sewers, how will that impact the upcoming animated series on your network? The brief snippets out there on the web don’t seem to suggest any sort of interstellar origin. The series kicks off later this year and the movie is supposed to hit theaters in 2013. Aren’t you inviting confusion and further backlash from new and long time fans alike by portraying the characters in two different lights?
Personally, I would love to see the more hard edged, red-masked Eastman-Laird comic book characters find a home on either screen. Their blades actually cut flesh, be it human or mutant, and they didn’t need a bunch of over-the-top turtle themed gadgets, a la 1960’s Batman, to defeat their enemies. Is that too much to ask?