I’ve never owned a pet before. A severe combination of asthma, apartment living, and not being responsible was most likely the cause of this, though I’ve since tried to remedy this situation by interacting with other people’s pets as much as possible. Out of all the domesticated animals that society has to offer, dogs appeal to my personality the most; they’re easily pleased, they’ll eat anything we place in front of them, and there are more recorded cases that show they are generally worried about our well-being. In essence, I feel that if I’m constantly worried about the livelihood and happiness of something, it should at least be excited to see me come through the door. Yes, that was directed at you, cats.
The thing I have most in common with dogs though, is their level of excitement over the smallest occurrences. I try to keep all of my nerd-out moments under wraps, and am usually the most composed between the three hosts, but behind closed doors my excitability is akin to throwing a ball to play fetch. I’m lucky that I’m privy to moments in geekdom that won’t be experienced for months because of the inside track that we have as nerd denizens, and I’m figuratively happy-peeing all over the house.
So when I saw the teaser sculptures and banners for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from Michael Bay, it was the equivalent to being told that we’re going to the park, and then waking up a few hours later to being spayed and neutered.
Let me first preface this: I have stated before that I usually refrain from declaring that a work or piece is subjectively “bad”. It’s a labor of love from someone, and many people had to work hours upon hours in the hopes that an audience enjoys what they’ve put their heart into. That being said, come on! My childhood, for lack of better terms, is being bastardized into a rumored alien origin plot opposite a woman who couldn’t be cordial enough to be in the third Transformers movie.
And yes, I do understand that what I had experienced as TMNT was not the original goal of Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. It was darker in nature and a pastiche of 80’s popular culture, drawing from the gritty and pseudo-Eastern tones of the likes of Daredevil and Ronin. What it ultimately evolved into, and what affected me personally growing up, was the light and airy tone of the pizza-eating vigilantes that always knew the difference between right and wrong. Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Donnie were brothers that deeply cared about one another; it wasn’t about acting hard and distinguishing yourself from others, but it was how they interacted as a family and team that was the heart of it. The merchandising juggernaut that was produced because of this was an added bonus, and I can’t even count the number of times I wore those costumes or carried that lunchbox to school.
I guess this comes from an even deeper gripe about these reboots from the pages of yesteryear, but TMNT (for me, at least) is the last straw. I am deeply saddened that this year I have to deal with a RoboCop at a PG-13 rating, the prospect of a Fantastic four movie where Johnny and Sue might not be brother and sister, and this steaming pile of Mouser-defecation. There are massive amounts of praise for the latest cartoon incarnation that’s already appearing on Nickelodeon; a work of art that pays homage to its predecessors, they’re even producing new content and ideas, like hinting at deeper familial connections with Karai, and Donatello having a crush on the teenage April O’Neil. We already have great source material that’s pushing the creative envelope. Why are they not capitalizing on an established, light-hearted brand that next-generation parents can be supportive of?
I sincerely hope that the movie proves me wrong. I don’t know how I know it, but I feel it deep within my half-shell that this is going to be a flop for the ages, maybe not monetarily, but definitely content-wise. These Powers-That-Be had a real chance to reboot a franchise that they could be proud of, with a focus on family values, the importance of exercise and activity, and straight-up ninja shell-kicking, but instead they’ve taken a route to appeal to the Call of Duty/Battlefield generation that is already in place. But, until then, all I can do is bare my teeth and whimper away with my tail between my legs, hoping that we actually go to the park next time.