Growing up, it was easy to love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They loved pizza. I loved pizza. They knew the martial arts. I half-assed my way through karate classes. They fought some dude named Shredder. I was scared of sharp things. It was like someone made a cartoon just to sell me action figures for me.
There were Ninja Turtle movies back then too. I still think the first one holds up pretty well to this day; it's rough around the edges, and those rap songs on the soundtrack are lamesauce (but not as lamesauce as the songs from the live musical tour Coming Out of Their Shells), but on the whole it's not bad for a movie based on a comic book that became a cartoon to sell toys. It's right up there with Masters of the Universe in terms of films that I know I maybe should dislike but I still proudly own.
Now, I can't say with absolute certainty that these new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not the turtles of my youth, but what I can say is that the people behind them aren't trying to sell them to me as the turtles of my youth.
I blame Christopher Nolan for the progressive darkening of the things I loved as a child. Batman Begins proved there was a market for darker, grittier, "more realistic" takes on fictional franchises. There's a reason we have a violent Superman film and a... well, I still don't know how to describe just what the hell happened with Star Trek Into Darkness, and that reason is $372 million global box office for Begins.
And thus we get a Ninja Turtles trailer that features a whole lot more destruction than normally associated with the series and a dark tone that just seems unnecessary (especially considering this is apparently a Nickelodeon production). Yeah, at the end we get to see some of the lighthearted turtles like those who grew up watching the cartoon remember, but there's reason to have reservations about that too.
That bit at the end reminds me a little bit too much of Michael Bay's Transformers, which tried really hard to be funny and failed most of the time. Bay is only producing Turtles, but his involvement at all gives me pause.
Personally speaking, just once I'd love to see a modern street-hero level comic book flick, one that didn't have exploding buildings or great stakes. Is it too much to ask for four brothers trying to keep the streets safe for the average person? Must the Ninja Turtles go blockbuster?
Or hell, maybe I'm just too old to be caring about the adventures of Leo, Ralph, Mikey, and Donnie at this point. At least I still have pizza.
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