August 12, 2014

Podcast Episode 26: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Is Totally Buck-Buck


The newest reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a singular film experience in that it's the first time I've ever sat in the theater and felt like a movie was trolling me in real time.

To be fair, I am CLEARLY not this movie's intended audience despite having been a member of the original generation of young TMNT fanatics.  No, this horrorshow is custom built for today's nine year olds.  And not even the smart nine year olds but the dumb ones, the kids who need everything explained to them six times between a series of explosions and fart jokes lest they get distracted by something shiny and wander out into traffic.  This is a movie in which six-foot talking turtles who know karate aren't cool enough, so these turtles are also bulletproof and super strong, able to knock giant steel shipping containers 50 feet into the air with a single kick.  It's also got a faint whiff of racism - Splinter sports a fu manchu and wraps himself in Japanese affectations not because he comes from Japan, but because he finds a ninjitsu book lying in the sewer.  That's right, Splinter is essentially a rat doing yellow-face.

Character development?  Compelling relationships?  Coherent storytelling?

"FUCK THAT," this movie gleefully screams.  "We've got a car chase in the snow down a mountain with a close-up of Megan Fox's ass!"

The various incarnations of Ninja Turtles from my youth are hardly sacred, but this clusterfuck of blurry CG and leaden dialogue makes the first live-action film from 1990 look like Citizen Kane.  You can criticize the turtle suits all you want (and I actually think they hold up pretty well, all things considered) but at least that movie operated on a modicum of logic and it gave you 30 seconds to catch your breath between fight scenes.  The turtles in that movie are all distinct and multi-faceted.  Not only could you tell them apart, but you actually gave a shit about them individually.  The only difference between these version of the turtles is the color of their respective masks.  Oh yeah, and Michelangelo REALLY wants to bone Megan Fox, which is exactly as creepy as that sounds.  Oh yeah, and the actual ninja stuff is astoundingly unimpressive.

But here's the thing: I watched this movie in a theater full of kids and they went BONKERS for it.  Completely and utterly.  However, they were also whooping and cheering for the movie as soon as the lights dimmed.  These kids were obviously primed to love this thing before they every walked in the door and I suspect that has more to do with the movie's marketing than with the content of the film itself.  Apparently there is currently a Ninja Turtles cartoon airing on television, but I had to go look that up to be sure.  Before Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman stepped in, the Turtles haven't felt like a real cultural touchstone in years.  Sadly, I expect that will all change as children are drawn into this hyper-kinetic bastardization like moths to a flame.  It's no surprise that the film massively outpaced industry estimates at the box office, nor that Paramount has already greenlit a sequel.

Episode 26 of the podcast features our longtime friend and Ninja Turtles fan Colin FX Garstka.  We marvel at the sheer idiocy of what we've witnessed, reminisce about the Turtles of days gone by and suggest which vintage characters we'd like to see introduced in the future.  Sadly, Krang feels pretty unlikely but giant insect/scientist Baxter Stockman doesn't seem totally outside the realm of possibility.  We also fancast the proposed all-female Ghostbusters and get psyched at the prospect of Bill Murray and Christopher Walken lending their voices to The Jungle Book.

For those of you who want to skip over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Nonsense and get right to Lady Ghostbusters, you can start it at 59:30.


Next Week: At the end of the episode we settle on Let's Be Cops, but it actually looks like we'll be talking about Expendables 3 instead.