Megan Fox in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

Paramount Pictures

Two years ago, the appropriate amount of outrage fumed when news circulated that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be aliens instead of, you know, mutants. Straight from Michael Bay‘s mouth, it was another example of the we-like-it-let’s-change-it thinking that infects so much of the worst of franchise filmmaking. Nevermind that the new incarnation was under Platinum Dunes’ wing.

There’s also a long production history that has taken a cult comic creation and transformed it enough already. We’ll never get a true vision of what Eastman and Laird put down on comic book pages, but while accepting that, it felt even stranger to see large modifications made to an origin story for seemingly no real reason. Enter the trailer.

From the sound of it, they’ve changed Shredder (William Fichtner) into Norman Osborne. He was trying to make heroes, but something went wrong, and now he’ll end up going mad from being so damned noble. And April (Megan Fox), like Peter Parker, has a close relative involved. Ultimately, the origin story changes are going to piss off many while meaning nothing to a large majority of potential views. The alterations do, on the surface, seem pointless, but it’s also not like they will make or break the movie — its quality or lack thereof will be determined by a lot of other factors. Like the look. It’s appropriately dark, and it’ll be fun to see what kind of nightmares the Nickelodeon crowd gets from them, but it’s amazing to see mutant turtles that look like real-life mutant turtles. Like Jose Canseco in reptilian form. Ghastly stuff that pushes right up to the border of the uncanny valley. Meanwhile, the true x-factor here is director Jonathan Liebesman, who so far hasn’t shown much talent beyond middling (often confusing) action via Battle Los Angeles and others. Origin story confusion aside, if there’s any real fear, it comes with the generic potential that he (and Bay) can bring to the table. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in theaters August 8th.


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