Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Springtime For Michael Bay

A pretty daisy. It's spring!
According to the "Heat Vision" (i.e. comic-book movie geek) section of The Hollywood Reporter, devotees of the 80's comic book "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" are quite upset at Michael Bay's plans to re-boot the franchise.

Ahhh. This sort of news is a wonderful gift-- A giant, multicolored prop department daisy. So let's savor it by pulling the pedals off one by one:

• Top Level Reaction: Okay, Michael Bay is going to make another iconic 80s kid-culture franchise. Worked before with those damn folding robots, should work again. (and just so you know it IS indeed working, the next Transformers movie already has a release date: June 27, 2014.)

Michael Bay has sent out a snippy, utterly unconvincing statement to this end, urging calm among his pissed-off and unwilling new fanbase:

Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script […] Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.

The Turtles: (left to right) Mario, Luigi, Sacco and Vanzetti.
• Geek Point of Outrage #1: Bay wants to make the Turtles aliens, rather than mutants. This has struck fans an a terrible idea, completely inorganic to the whole "TMNT" canon. Alright, let us parse this from a normal person's perspective: human-sized turtles who love pizza and are ninjas who were mutated from normal turtles via toxic ooze-- versus human-sized turtles who love pizza and are ninjas but are actually from another planet. See? World of difference. How could he?

• Geek Point of Outrage #2
: Michael Bay's unique style of filmmaking will "ruin" the "TMNT" franchise. This ruination would occur via the application of Mr. Bay's stylistic ouvre: baseline-dumb scripting; sexy pinup-girl female leads; cooperation with military and/or governmental agencies for added production value; not-so-subtle jingoism; comic-relief racist stereotypes; frenetic, loud and over-rendered CGI sequences. Admittedly, at first glance none of these Bay hallmarks seem to mesh with the "TMNT" universe, but I'm sure he'll find a way.

• The Purist Argument: When you sat down to see the first TMNT movie in 1990, did you feel that a huge disservice had been visited to the spirit of the comic books? Or did you feel, as I did, that the film was pointless, as "TMNT" comics were a thinly conceived, pre-sold-out indie-comic goof on the superhero genre in the first place?

"Dude! Can we, uh... Bring the brewskis?"
-- Frat Boy Leader (Michael Bay), Mystery Men (1999)
• Appeal to Realism: If I were king of Hollywood, I would have given the TMNT reboot to Kevin Spacey. He could have engaged Alexander Payne to direct an Aaron Sorkin script, and created a work which explores the existential and psychological underpinnings of the characters. My version would have been a lot more like "Flowers for Algernon," a quartet of reptiles bought to sentience via genetic alteration-- but briefly, as the toxins which granted them super turtle-ular powers will eventually kill them. It would be a study in heroic, Homeric fatalism, four characters determined to do good before their ooze-given gifts destroy them. Oscar contender! Also a downer-- which is why I'm not king of Hollywood.

• Mike Returns to Form: Most folks (okay, most hard-core movie geeks) may remember Michael Bay from his semi-memorable cameo turn in Mystery Men (1999) as the cool, collected leader of the Frat Boys. Perhaps he looked around the set, saw how much Universal lavished on a star-studded film based on a marginal 1980s comic book-- a spinoff of Bob Burdon's "The Flaming Carrot," a goof on the superhero genre-- and decided to do thou likewise?

(p.s. see what I did with the title up there? 'Cos Megan Fox said Michael Bay was "like Hitler" in the press, it got back to [Transformers producer] Steve Spielberg, and Bay fired her tattooed ass from the franchise.)


  1. Hey: Shoulda, coulda, woulda. You acknowledging that gag makes me very, very happy.