I think we can all agree that the Ninja Turtles Is not stepping in to fill the shoes for the original TMNT. It never could. A majority of the fans that saw the film despised it, myself included. What Ninja Turtles gave us was a big budget project with good to decent actors (Fox excluded of course) and a shoddy script re-written by so many people that it eventually became some weird, family-blockbuster hybrid with mediocre dirty jokes and easily written bail outs for our characters.
That being said, I have learned to look at this franchise with new eyes, not for what it brings to the table today, but for what it can mean in the future. For the duration of Ninja Turtles, the lead writers will remain the same. The scripts will more than likely continued to be shopped out to other writers for revisions who in turn will water it down for the studios because that's what they're paid to do. If the script isn't good then the project doesn't have a lasting leg to stand on. A human has no form with out our skeleton.
Even with the writing as it is, the budget allows for the producers to bring in big name talent to star. (Laura Linney anyone?) They also grab actors who have their own following in order to bring even more people out to the theaters. (Tyler Perry has a cult following) They tie in cheesy jokes and situations for the families and their kids, because let's face it, this is a children's franchise that just happens to have 30 year old men fan girling as well. For those fans, they throw in all the things we loved from the cartoons, even if it isn't exactly the way it should be. (It's a Michael Bay project. What did you really expect?)
The production team is collectively grasping as the brightest straws available in order to make their drink appeal to anyone who may happen upon it. We can argue all we want, but if you take a look at the box office numbers, you can clearly see that they tell no lies. $485 million worldwide against a $125 million budget. The studio would actually be crazy not to carry on. So what we do as scorn fans is, we support the money being made understanding that it means that other, more respected film makers will get their opportunity to redeem these characters in all the right ways.
Remember what happened to Batman? Great films from Burton led to two monstrosities by Joel Schumacher that put the nail in the coffin for Mr. Wayne and his crime fighting days. Then we get a budding new director with a magical gift for visual story telling and he pries that bitch back open and recreates a house from ashes. Studios funded him because even the bad Batman films made some money. They know nostalgia carries through and they're always more likely to trust a gritty reboot if the last series made money but had no lasting fanfare. Not like the originals. But then again, the original film followed the comics where as it seems this new franchise is more so focused on the cartoon series story lines.
SO, without further ado, here are 5 Things You Can Expect from the Ninja Turtles sequel.
1: CASEY JONES AND APRIL O'NEIL: Two Lovers in a Half Shell World
As many already know, Arrow actor Stephen Amell has joined the cast as Hockey Mask wearing, sarcastic, tough guy Casey Jones. With all the new angles on the characters that came from the last film who knows what we will be getting with Jones this time around. Hopefully he maintains that chip on his shoulder and love for life in the chaotic harmony that Jones is accustom to.
If this film doesn't include a complicated love story between Casey and April then I don't know what to think. I don't necessarily support that being a focus, but that's one of the things Bay does in his films. In the first installment we saw a back and forth but never romantically growing relationship between Fox and Will Arnett. However Alessandra Ambrosio has already been announced as Vernon's girlfriend (Arnett's Character) so we know Jones won't have any competition.
The original film played on the sexual tension between Jones and O'Neil, but that was a different world. I imagine we will see obvious flirtation in the form of badly written one-liners and Jones coming the rescue at just the right time. I also imagine this will cause Mikey to become jealous but that won't even be the real issue. Jones saving the day will cause he and Raph to butt heads. Given Raph's demeanor in the first one I'd say this will be accurate.
Also, we all know that Raph and Jones didn't really get along in the original film anyway. A different Raph, a different time?
"A Jose Canseco Bat? Tell me, you didn't pay money for this?"
"Cricket? Nobody understands cricket. You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket."
I miss that version of Raphael more than anything from the new films....that and Leonardo being likable. Not really sure why anyone would choose Knoxville to voice the leader. His raspy interpretation of an edgy, kind-of cool leader just doesn't seem fitting. His voice should be soothing and inspiring. Anyway, like I was writing, Jones is in for the ride this time and even if Amell doesn't hit the mark, Jones still got a pretty awesome looking mask.
2: BAXTER STOCKMAN:
I'm a fence cat on this one right here for a couple reasons. I LOVE the character of Baxter Stockman. Even when I was a little kid he was always one of my favorite Villains. I thought the character was extremely interesting, albeit sad, and he looked cool as hell. I will never be against Stockman being in a Turtles film.
However I am really, really not a Tyler Perry fan. In his comedy he is extremely one toned and I don't find him to be a fearless comedian by any means. I think he shows promise as an actor and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here because I think when Perry goes serious, he's a much more convincing actor. Stockman needs to be played on that level by Perry. I would hate to get some cheesy reaching for jokes.
My biggest reason for the fence on this one being that Stockman was originally announced to be in the first version and was to be played by Mos Def. Throughout the short film career that he's had, Def has shown that he has major acting chops and is far beyond a one tone actor. As far as comedy goes, let us not forget his Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy role that launched him in the first place. After becoming so stoked for that, then being let down when IMDB took Def and the character of Stockman off their list, I'm having trouble getting behind the recasting on this regardless of the fact that Perry will bring more people to see it than before. But are the numbers going to be worth it? Like I said, benefit of the doubt.
3: A BETTER SHREDDER: Hopefully
The last film gave us a version of Shredder that didn't land well. There was zero attempt to hide his face which was always part of the build up for the story. Seeing the Shredder within 30 minutes of lift off left little to the imagination and really took away his power in my opinion. He is a villain that is supposed to remain pretty much faceless until confrontation unless otherwise attacked off guard. Shredder worked through others. He worked smart, not hard.
Another downfall with the last film was the lead villains inability to fight fair on his own terms. Oroku Saki obviously had moral conflicts, however he was very confident in his knowledge and craft of ninjutsu. His armor was more for intimidation than for the slight advantage it gave him in battle. He was like a monster in the dark that no one wanted to look at. He had honor, albeit the honor of a thief.
This time around, Shredder hid in a multifunctional death suit that made it 100% unbelievable that the Turtles weren't impaled multiple times. It was like they jumped straight to Super Shredder without building the character at all. Even thought he's the bad guy, you still have to make the audience care about him in some way or another. They rushed that story line too fast.
All the photos that have leaked thus far show a more classic Shredder with more sensible, hands-on armor. This gives us all hope that we will actually see a worthy fight scene that is actually believable, and fun to watch as opposed to a rooftop fight scene that made the original look oscar worthy in comparison. It was too big. Too summer blockbuster. The scene was too big for the stage.
With a new Shredder, hopefully we get a new Footclan that are worthy of the original look. So far, it doesn't look good. Instead of the 'monster mask' we saw last summer, it seems the new clan, or at least the close, right-hand ones have a Nightwing-esque look. The fact that their hair isn't messy leads me to believe that they weren't wearing masks at all. I guess we will see when the time comes.
4: A MYSTERY FEMALE CHARACTER: Laura Linney
Laura Linney has been announced as a cast member after showing up on set a few weeks ago. This follows the trend of trying to get established actors on the team. Linney is no stranger to success in film having struck gold multiple times with films like The Savages, Primal Fear, and Mystic River. Her resume speaks for itself being nominated for an Oscar 3 times and having won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
There's no denying that she will bring something to the table, but what exactly? Truth be told, we don't really know. But I'm inclined to believe that it is more than likely something important. If you take a look at the IMDB page for NT2 you will see that Linney is listed, yet her character is blank. This usually doesn't happen unless the character is revealed to be a crucial part in the story that no one is expecting. (Matt Smith as ****** in Terminator Genisys)
There are theories out there that she could be a character from the 2003 animated series formerly known as John Bishop. If she in fact is playing Agent Bishop it wouldn't be too much of a reach as we saw a gender swap when Whoopi Goldberg took over as O'Neil's boss. Bishop allied with Baxter Stockman in the series which gives life to the theory.
I personally think it will be something different. What exactly, I'm not really sure. I'm not extremely familiar with the animated series past the mid 90's. In the photo above you see the turtles in a stand off with Linney and other members of the police. I feel that she has an alter ego. Someone of her caliber doesn't get brought in for something tiny. So who will she be? More than likely a villain....She's an FBI agent with special forces...knowledge not known to the public...maybe something to do with Krang??
5: BEBOP and ROCKSTEADY!!
FINALLY. I don't care if it's worse than the first one. I have been waiting on these guys since I was 5 years old. There was no way to put them in the original as they were created for the cartoon series, but I don't know a turtle fan out there who doesn't love these two knuckle-headed henchmen. They were the comedic relief in the otherwise overly serious Footclan movement. The gang they were a part of was Shredder's breeding ground for mutation testing, creating mutants with superior powers, though inferior intellect.
Sure we were given Tokka and Rahzar in TMNT 2 back in 91'. But they were merely knockoffs to try and fill a void left by fan cravings and demands for the characters to be brought onto the big screen. Tokka and Rahzar were two mutants who couldn't talk, but were still used for comedic relief through slap-stick actions. The toys that came from them were really cool, but they were never on the level of Bebop and Rocksteady who ironically were created by original Turtles author Peter Laird for the cartoon series toy line with Playmates.
We have already received our first look into the characters on set, and it is a semi-beautiful thing. Gary Anthony Williams (Malcom in the Middle, Boondocks, The Internship) will be playing Bebop while Rocksteady will be played by Stephen Farrelly (Sheamus of WWE). I find them both to be fitting, though I'm really not familiar with Sheamus by any means. One look at their character outfits and you can tell they are at least going the right way visually...for now.
The purple mohawk and large septum ring are trademarks of the Bebop character. He was always a bigger guy, so I think Williams is a good choice. He's shown that he can be funny in various roles and worked with good comedians in the past. It does make me nervous that we have yet to see his trademark retro-80's shades. You can't have Bebop without the Shades.
As far as Rocksteady goes, I think they hit the nail on the head right down to that goofy haircut. He was always a cro magnon type of character so a wrestler probably fits the bill nicely. And seeing as they gave him those classic Camo pants and black tank top I think we can rest assured that this is going in the right direction. This is the one thing they HAVE to do RIGHT. A couple days ago they leaked photos of the new rides which I have to say, I'm a pretty big fan of.
They haven't released ANYTHING as far as character art after mutation is concerned so I took the liberty of going online and finding the best concept fan art I could find. Some of it might actually be concept art, but I couldn't find any information on that obviously. Just like the new turtles of the last film, they are keeping as tight a lid on this as they possibly can. The latter photos are rumored to be unused concept art from Ninja Turtles 2014.
The really promising thing I found in my hunt for the actual concept art was numerous rumors and links to...
If this happens, I think that the original fans like myself have to admit that they are at least trying. Now, wether that means trying to make a good movie or trying to please everyone remains to be seen, but I think we can anticipate what way it will go. Some of the images were previously removed from their websites at the request of Paramount. I take that to mean that they were at least at one point in time legitimately linked to the production of the film. Since they have been leaked back online it more than likely means that they have moved in another direction with new concept art that will more than likely be leaked as the film reaches post-production.
So there you have it. As of now, that's what we can expect the next time out of the gates. Look for the plot of this film to propel it into a third, and possibly final, film to round out the franchise. If the next two make the money and achieve the level of success that the first film saw, they'll probably give life to a 4th or 5th before letting someone else take the reigns. If the next films lose money however, or fans lose interest which is more than possible, then we can move on the way they did with Spider-Man. With more success hopefully.
BONUS: The ORIGINAL April O'Neil is cameoing
Judith Hoag, who originally held the role of O'Neil back in 1990 is listed on the cast for the new film. I take it that this means a cameo because you can't put her in the movie as anything more and expect us to take it seriously. She is listed pretty high on the cast list, which is usually reserved for important characters. I am hoping the status of her cast listing is simply tied to the money they had to pay her to appear once again....but she can't be coming on as April so honestly, who really cares? Not me. So I leave you with the new Turtle Van...truck. Turtle Truck Van. I don't know what it is...but I kind of like it.