TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is "fascinating" and has "far more comedy than you might expect"

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When it comes everybody’s favourite Jacob Zuma stunt doubles heroes on the half shell, my personal sentiment towards the new Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: LA) directed live-action feature film has seen more ups and downs than a prostitute’s underwear. While I initially balked at the thought of a new movie, and the talk about “alien turtles” had my fan-rage mutating to new levels, the positive buzz from bloggers who had onset visits and the first reveal of the character designs had my interest. Then the first trailer came along, and I just wasn’t feeling the power of the ooze like Darryn did. There are a few moments I liked in the latest couple of trailers though, and I’m starting to not do a double-take every time I see turtle lips (TURTLE LIPS!).

So yeah, I really don’t kn0w whether I am dreading or looking forward to seeing this movie, but apparently if I want a good dose of comedy mixed with action, then I should be feeling the latter.

Collider was lucky enough to get to see several minutes worth of footage from the film (which is still a work in progress, and will probably also be shown at San Diego Comic-Con next week), and what they saw pleasantly surprised them. Gags that fell flat in the trailers worked brilliantly here when placed in context, apparently leading to a fun action-comedy feel that’s leaning more towards the comedy side.

“The Ninja Turtles franchise always had humour, but the extent Liebesman takes it to here came as a nice surprise.  Yes, we had that scene in the trailer with Michelangelo teasing April with his mask and the other where she tries to explain to Whoopi Goldberg’s character that the guys are both turtles and ninjas, but seeing the jokes in context, right alongside a major action scene, really shows how far that humor goes – and how successful it is, too.  Noel Fisher, in particular, is priceless as Michelangelo.  The way he moves, his facial expressions and the intonation of his dialogue makes his material remarkably natural and truly laugh-out-loud worthy.”

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And Fisher’s Michelangelo wasn’t the only thing that that jumped out, as apparently the Turtles’ designs just glimpsed in the trailers and posters are “downright fascinating”.

“There were two standout elements of [the subway fight scene glimpsed in the trailer]– the humor and the incredible detail on the turtles.  It isn’t just about having a certain color mask and a particular weapon anymore.  As you’ve seen in the character posters, these guys are loaded with personality-appropriate accessories, and not just items that you get a quick look at and think, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ and forget about.  Sure, we only saw a fraction of the full feature, but every single second the turtles were on screen, they were downright fascinating to look at.  It never got old.”

One thing that may have contributed to the “fascinating” appeal of the Turtles, was perhaps how the actors who were motion-capturing the digitally created Turtles actually shone through their digital counterparts, as producer Andrew Form explained to Collider.

“Now that you guys see the turtles, if you looked at the actors, like if you took a picture of each actor, like Noel Fisher who plays Michelangelo, you put him next to his turtle, like, I see Noel.  Like, literally.  It’s him.  He comes through that turtle.  It’s crazy how much the guys come through in the turtles if you do side-by-side.  And I don’t think any of us expected that, that you’d really see their faces inside these turtles.”

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The other big sequence that Collider got to check out was the snow-chase sequence that’s being used as the showstopper for most of the film’s trailers (you know, the scene where the turtles are sliding down a snowy slope at speed and Donatello slingshots Raphael shell-first into a Humvee), and they were once again taken aback at just how well the scene worked.

“Admittedly, I’ve picked on this material quite a bit when assessing the Ninja Turtles trailers, not because it doesn’t look good, but rather because, out of context, what they’re doing doesn’t make much sense and that takes the thrill out of it.  However, that’s certainly not the case when you watch the whole thing through.

There is a lot going on in this sequence, but it’s actually really easy to keep track of everyone because the turtles are so strong on an individual level.  In addition to different posture, shell sizes and accessories, the turtles also have very different attitudes and those attitudes are impressively well woven into all the combat.  And the same goes for the humor here as well.  The laughs aren’t relegated to quieter, talk-driven moments.  This is a full-blown race down a mountain yet the turtles are constantly dishing out zingers, and that’s a big part of the reason the material is fun to watch.

Really, that’s probably the biggest takeaway from this presentation.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn’t just another combat-driven, CGI-heavy hero film.  It’s a true action comedy, and that lighter tone could wind up being what makes it stand out.”

Well, dump me in ooze and call me Bebop, but this is all pleasantly surprising. Granted, these were obviously scenes hand-picked by the suits at Paramount because they knew they would impress, while the rest of the movie could be a hot mess. But even with that being said, I can’t help but feel a lot more positive about this. Liebesman showed on Battle: LA that he had some promise, even if he fumbled more than he succeeded, but it could just be that he has finally got his groove down now.

And with Michael Bay standing behind Liebesman as executive producer, you know that this movie will definitely look good, even if it ends up completely brain dead and incoherent. So at least we will have something shiny to laugh/cringe at for two hours.

Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-2014-Leonardo

Last Updated: July 17, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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