As many of you know, Michael Bay is producing the latest live-action film of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As a hardcore TMNT fan, this brought major concerns. Though I love his work on Bad Boys, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor, Bay’s history with established franchises still has me worried. I’m not a major fan of Transformers, but hardcore fans have often said how Bay has ruined it. Seriously, type ‘Michael Bay ruined Transformers’ in Google and be amazed at the blogs and Deviant Art pages dedicated to that phrase.
Recently, I had the pleasure of playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (let’s call it OOTS for short) on my brother’s Xbox 360. Despite the reviews on it, I still give it a solid 7/10. There a few things from the game I think Mr. Bay (and director Jonathan Liebesman) should incorporate before a ‘Michael Bay ruined TMNT’ search box appears on Google.
#1 THE TURTLES’ LOOK
Photos of the film’s actors running around in green screen suits on the web tells us that the Turtles will be complete CGI instead of the animatronic suits of the past. This is a nice step as long as they don’t look too weird. I feel that OOTS struck a nice balance in their designs. They’re not too realistic or too cartoony, which I can imagine is difficult to capture. And as a bonus, they don’t look like carbon copies of each other like they did in the 1987 series: Raphael’s a little bulkier, Donatello is taller and leaner, and Michelangelo is a bit shorter to emphasize that he’s the youngest. Hopefully the game shows us what they’ll look like in the 2014 film.
#2 INDIVIDUAL FIGHTING STYLES
Although Splinter did teach his sons the many aspects of ninjutsu, I’m sure he encouraged them to find their own fighting style. OOTS really did their homework here in giving each turtle a style that fits their personality. For example, Michelangelo’s has a style that is similar to capoeira that matches his free-spirited attitude. Raphael, the more hands-on fighter, uses more of a Muay Thai/MMA style. Donatello’s moves with his staff reminded me of Donnie Yen in Once Upon a Time in China 2. In the more recent show revolving the Turtles, Leonardo supposedly uses the Niten Ryu style of kenjutsu. Hopefully someone at Nickelodeon and/or Paramount took the time to add this in to make the fight scenes in the movie more interesting.
#3 ACTUAL STEALTH
One of the main aspects of being a ninja is practicing the art of stealth. Though highlighted a lot in the first TMNT film, this aspect was more or less forgotten in sequels and cartoons that followed. Thankfully more recent shows brought this concept back. In OOTS, players were awarded extra XP for taking down enemies using stealth and using shuriken for attacks. A few well-placed stealth takedowns and fights in the dark (maybe due to a knocked out light or a smoke screen) would really set the tone and overall flow of the movie.
#4 MORE FLUID MOTION
After watching the old TMNT live action films as an adult, I noticed the Turtles’ movements were very clunky for master martial artists. Not surprising really, as I’m sure the suits the actors wore probably weighed about 50 pounds or more. But thanks to cartoons and CGI, their movements are a lot more fluid and fitting. In fact, one of my favorite scenes from 2007’s TMNT is the last scene showing the Green Team’s parkour skills on New York’s rooftops. OOTS highlighted this feature a lot, allowing players to jump across rooftops, do backflips off walls, etc. Hopefully some actual parkour users were hired and given CGI suits to show off these same skills.
#5 TURTLE POWER SONG
Within the first 2 minutes of OOTS, I was already excited because Red Fly Studio, the developer of the game, used ‘Turtle Power’ as the game’s opening theme song. For those unaware, the song was featured in the closing credits of the 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and in 1993’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. Not only was I nostalgic after hearing it, but it was nice to know that almost 25 years later, that song still fits the tone of the franchise. If it gets remade, I just hope they change that one line about Raphael being the leader. I still can’t believe no one changed that before the film’s release but oh well.
Is there anything you hope to see in the upcoming film? Do you think Liebesman and Bay will do a good job? Drop a comment below!