One of the most anticipated trailers coming out of this week’s CinemaCon, the annual meet-up between Hollywood studios and the National Association of Theater Owners, is the first look at the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A reboot of the cartoon and 1991 movie, TMNT is due in August …to no one’s excitement. Like most people, I consider the most important cultural contribution the Ninja Turtles ever made to be the immortal Vanilla Ice rap song, “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!”. Every kid in the 1980’s knew about TMNT, but they were no Thundercats.
So I’m wondering who was pushing for a Ninja Turtles remake. Michael Bay is producing and Jonathan Liebesman, the auteur behind such gems as Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans, is directing. Already, we’ve been forsaken in a barren wasteland. But then we see the turtles, and truly, there is no hope. For lo, they are monsters of the most nightmarish motion-capture variety.
A life-sized muscle-bound bipedal turtle was never going to be pretty. But could we aim for a little higher than “pants-sh*tting soulless terror”? Because as weird and disorienting as Megan Fox’s umpteenth face is, the moment when Michelangelo pulls off his mask—acting as if this is some kind of improvement upon his look—is so repulsive my eyes crossed trying to unsee it. It’s physically difficult to look at these things head-on. I’m not a fan of mo-cap to begin with—it’s a huge waste of time and money and always results in these dead-eyed monstrosities—but even by those standards the Ninja Turtles are just plain UGLY. There’s nothing attractive about the design or the execution. Who wants to pay $12 to be visually tortured for two hours by a squad of hellish nightmare monsters?
As for the story, c’mon. It’s a Michael Bay movie, as directed by a third-tier Michael Bay knock-off. Which is to say, what story? There’s something about heroes being “created”, so I guess we’re nixing the “they’re turtles because they were an accident” plot, but if you don’t already know these characters, you’re not going to understand who Megan Fox is context to the Ninja Turtles, or the significance of the samurai suit. All I really took from this trailer is that Will Arnett must not be getting many offers these days.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pour bleach in my eyes to try and erase the image of those moon-faced toxic-dump hell-beasts. If you look at them too long, they’ll suck your soul out and you’ll become trapped in a nightmare hellscape made of electrical despair.