So Michael Bay is following up the tour de force avant-garde trilogy Transformers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, another reboot of a superficially childish eighties cartoon with hidden depths of tragedy and pathos. Yeah, I can’t read that back to myself with a straight face. There are only two interesting things about this film. The first is how much money it will make, which will be interesting in the same sense that after a too close encounter with a lawn mower, you stare at your jagged stump of a wrist with the detached interest of just how unfair the universe really is.
The second reason that this film is interesting is that the production has turned into an overly dramatic soap opera. Let us recap.
First, Bay decided to change the name to “Ninja Turtles” and make it gritty live action. Fans’ eyes squinted. (Note, the fact that dedicated fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or turtle-headers as I’m sure they call themselves, actually exist without irony is a source of joy to me in this wilderness of trade news).
Second, Bay then announced that the turtles were in fact aliens who only look like anthropomorphized overgrown turtles. This really is a critical part of his creative process. I mean, in a world where turtles can mutate and grow up to fight ninjas from a sewer lair while eating pizza and naming themselves after renaissance artists, the main barrier to suspending disbelief is that the word “turtle” in that sentence is not “alien.”
Again, fans detonated. But Bay was right there to set their scuffed shells right:
“Paramount marketing changed the name. They made the title simple. The characters you all remember are exactly the same, and yes they still act like teenagers. Everything you remember, why you liked the characters, is in the movie. This script is being developed by two very smart writers, with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles. They care VERY MUCH about making this film for the fans. Everyone on this team cares about the fans. Just give them a chance. Jonathan [Liebesman] the director, is a major fan of the whole franchise. HE’S NOT GOING TO LET YOU DOWN”
Jonathan might not let down the fans, but I think the fact that he is directing a movie called Ninja Turtles probably disappoints his mother. He changed majors from psychology for this?
Then in this June, the ultimate
bad news hit: production on the film had shut down for rewrites and the release date was pushed from late 2013 to late spring 2014. Fans were essentially indifferent to this development, which perhaps should be a hint to Paramount just how much money to sink into this project.
Finally, the latest news is that the script was leaked on line. And it is so beyond terrible that at least seventeen people have died of brain aneurysms. This script is so stupid it’s like the video tape from The Ring. Michael Bay has raised hell about it, insisting that this a 2009 script that predates his work. Of course, Paramount has issued takedown notices on sites that have the leaked script, so it’s hitting a nerve with someone. Fans have detonated again because it seems that the script makes Casey Jones the protagonist, while the titular turtles are mere sidekicks.
And here are a couple of choice grabs from the script, in case you needed an emetic this morning:
Says Bay of this latest disaster:
The leaked script for Ninja Turtles that different sites continue to comment on was written well before I, or anyone at Platinum Dunes, was involved with the project. That script saw the shredder a long time ago. This is tired, old news — Wait for the movie!”
So the villain of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles script scandal is none other than Shredder? Irony just shot itself in the head.