From Ripoffs, Inspiration: Street Sharks

The year is 1994 and DIC Entertainment is looking to recreate the magic of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Their brilliant “new” idea: four teenage brothers are transformed by a mad scientist into half-human, half-shark hybrids. Each of the four brothers has a different personality, but all are radical in their own way. So is born: Street Sharks!

Wow… so original.

Continue reading From Ripoffs, Inspiration: Street Sharks

No Cowabunga: Why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Teaser Falls Flat

The teaser trailer for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film (slated to hit theaters this August) is out. Before I start anything, let’s quickly define the teaser trailer. The name is the hint: it’s a tease, a quick look that is designed (if done correctly) to instill both curiosity and excitement. The best teasers do not show much, but audiences love talking about them. Remember the Cloverfield teaser from a couple of years ago? That did not even give a title but instantly turned the movie into a viral hit. That was a teaser done right, now look at the teaser for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

If you liked that, more power to you. Films are an area of life where it is possible to have different but equally valid opinions (that’s what makes art great in general). My perspective: did not like it. In fact, that teaser did anything but generate excitement for me. At the end of it, my thought was: “I don’t need to see any more of this.”

So what happened? I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I have seen every prior film and played with all the toys as a kid, I should have been jumping for joy. Here is why, for me, I do not think the teaser worked well.

1. The Look

Really quickly, let’s look at the intro to the first theatrical film, from 1990.

I am not a fan of that movie either. It has pacing and character issues that make it a wonderful cure for insomnia. That said, the one thing that film really got correct was the look. Dark, gritty, with the turtles emerging from the shadows: awesome. Given today’s obsession with “darker means better”, I was very surprised at how bright parts of this film looked.

That might have more to do with uninspired, Inception-based snow mountain sequence that highlights the film. Michael Bay read my mind. When I was watching the climax to Christopher Nolan’s dream epic, all I could think was: “this is cool but if only the ninja turtles were fighting guys on the mountain, instead of Tom Hardy.” Prayers answered.

Need more turtles. Scratch that, needs more ninja turtles. NO, it needs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Need more turtles. Scratch that, needs more ninja turtles. NO, it needs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Point is: I want to see the Turtles fighting in New York. More appropriately, I want to see the Turtles fighting under New York. There is no shortage of super-hero movies right now and I have my pick of at least a dozen films that feature, or climax with, a battle in New York. The Ninja Turtles have to bring in something new. There was one more thing that bothered me: that spire that falls in the trailer.

Ready for me to go super nerd? Watch the end of this:

That falling spire image was featured heavily in all of the Amazing Spider-Man marketing. These effects look too similar (except the Lizard from the now 2 year old Spider-Man movie looks more believable than the Turtles).

2. The Actors

Wow, Megan Fox is pretty physically attractive, huh? Maybe it is an inspired choice to give the Turtles more life? Put them next to that vacant stare that is so often on Ms. Fox’s face and yes, they at least be the more emotionally charged beings. Seriously, with talent like Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, and virtually any other long actress trying to get a break, it tells too much that they have brought back the star from the first two Transformers movies.

To be fair, at least they gave her the yellow jacket.
To be fair, at least they gave her the yellow jacket.

Then we have William Fichtner as the Shredder. He is the one talking through the teaser. His lines are incredibly generic and that does him no favors. There are a lot of superhero movies out there: it really needs to do SOMETHING to stand out (put his lines in any other hero movie preview… they pretty much work just as well). Fichtner is also an actor without presence, and that is something the Shredder really needs. He is essentially playing a more cartoon-y (if possible) Darth Vader. Fichtner has a long career in movies and I have noticed something: when he is in good films, he has a small role. When he has a major role… it is Drive Angry.

I just can’t take him seriously since I saw this.

3. The Turtles

From far away look pretty cool. Not going to like, I was pretty excited to see Leonardo (my favorite) leap onto that roof. DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN THOUGH… Michelangelo’s face looks bizarre (and frightening). CG effects can make or break a movie. They brought Caesar to life in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and helped give that film an emotional core. They… well frankly they look like hell in this teaser. Big blobs of fake things running through a too-real looking New York, fighting the leftover Immortals from 300.

They also really do not look like teenagers at all… just sayin’.

Creepy. That is all.
Creepy. That is all.


Teasers do not necessarily reflect the quality of the final product, so there is still hope for this film (remember how alike marketing made 300 and Beowulf appear?).  It is just a shame that a teaser, made to promote the movie, has instead turned me off of it. Perhaps future trailers will do more to infuse excitement. I do not believe there has really been a “great” Ninja Turtles movie yet. Right now, I will settle for decent.

For the record, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did not have a great trailer either:

But at least it looked unique.

Weekly Wrap-Up (Mar. 9-15): Dark Souls II, Captain America 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys, and More

Wasn’t the biggest week in terms of development. Nevertheless, here we go:

1) Dark Souls II and Titanfall were released, with Dark Souls II landing more press coverage.

This, to me, shows just how much brands matter. I know that Dark Souls II has also been reviewed to be the better game (92 on Metacritic vs. 86 for Titanfall) but being a sequel has really helped Dark Souls II gain more attention than Titanfall. It also helps that Dark Souls II was released for last-gen systems (weird to say that) and Titanfall was pushed on the Xbox One: a system that does not sound like it is selling as well as Microsoft hoped.

At least this man was marginally excited for Titanfall's release.
At least this man was marginally excited for Titanfall‘s release.

2) Captain America 3 is set to battle the Superman/Batman movie at the Box Office.

Guess that means that Cap isn’t dying in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Producers have already revealed that they are willing to shift the Superman/Batman movie release date yet again: such confidence.

I'm still waiting for a movie where this legitimately happens.
I’m still waiting for a movie where this legitimately happens.

3)Action figures spoil designs for the Ninja Turtles and Muto.

Well, how much can you really spoil the Ninja Turtles? Here they are (warning: they look like turtles! But somehow ninjas? And teenagers? AND MUTANTS?! Mind blown). One of Godzilla’s foes (from the upcoming film of the same name) was also spoiled. Muto, enjoy the picture below for a first, albeit low-quality look at the monster.

Again: words fail me with how excited I am for this movie.
Again: words fail me with how excited I am for this movie.

4) Do people not like to make sequels in the same decade as the originals anymore?

Seriously, first 300 (cause soooo many people wanted another one of those) and now Sin City?

5) Americans rush to re-embrace Cold War attitudes on Russia.

Evidently it wasn’t fun enough the first time.

6) In an era of unprecidented technology and communication: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanishes without a trace.

This is a tragically fascinating story that has been developing over the past week. Everyone is blaming someone else. My thoughts go with the families involved in this upsetting story.

7) Obama appeared on “Between Two Ferns”

WHAT?! So wonderful.

But not everyone thought so.