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Death of a Childhood: Michael Bay Takes on the ‘80s


TMNT slideWe’ve all heard the news about Bay’s work on a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature, and how he plans on changing their origins significantly—which has resulted in much ire by the hardcore geeks out there.  We all know about his work on the Transformers films during the last 5 years.  Well, for those of you who haven’t yet heard, he’s also planning on directing a live-action version of yet another 80s’ cartoon classic: the Thundercats.  There’s very little information about it, since most of the focus seems to be geared on his Ninja Turtles flick, but I’m beginning to see a pattern with these films that I just don’t like: they’re nothing like their source material.

I’ve actually been a fan of some of Bay’s other films—The Rock, Armageddon, and even The Island—but I will gladly admit that most of them, including Bad Boys (and its sequel), have an excessive amount of explosions.  As a child of the '80s, and a fan of some of the decade’s iconic films like the Lethal Weapon and the Beverly Hills Cop series, I’m more than familiar with excessive explosions that seem to make me go “whoa” as only Keanu Reeves could pull it off, but I’m also a much bigger fan of movies that make sense and have a good plot to them.  Explosions will only get a movie so far, and after a while they will look almost exactly the same: people and things get blown up by other people and things.

There are a lot of Transformers fans out there, at least enough to saturate the movie theatres when the first three films came out, but for all the special effects and big-budget work done on them, the films still mostly concentrated on human characters at the center of the conflict.  Now, the fact that there are human characters in both the various television shows and comics since the early '80s does show that said humans do play an important part, but the central conflict has always been between the Autobots and the Decepticons, and that key factor, while present, was not as well shown in the films.  Add in the fact that the bipedal mode of the Cybertronian characters were hard to distinguish easily during high-intensity action scenes, and it’s no wonder people focused on the humans; it was hard to tell which robot was fighting which.

Now, turn to the TMNT franchise.  The license just recently (relatively speaking) got sold to Nickelodeon, and immediately the company started pumping out a new comic book continuity and started work on a new animated television show.  They’re both different from previous incarnations of the Turtles, but they’re still teenagers and mutants, a vast difference from what Bay is proposing for his new film.  Sure, one of the co-creators of the original TMNT characters and incarnation said to give Bay a chance, but even he said that he didn’t think that it would mean anything, either.  The Turtles are one of the few long-lasting cartoon franchises I actually spent many of my days watching, even in reruns, and while it was a bit cheesy (at least the first cartoon series), it was still somewhat awesome for a kid like me.

Now, I’m willing to give nearly anyone a chance to prove me wrong, and, perhaps, the movie will be good...but I’m not holding my breath.  Even when the 2003-2009 cartoon series drastically changed the origins of Shredder, I still was able to get onboard with it because the plot made sense. But, with this upcoming movie, I just don’t see it making a whole lot of sense.  Perhaps, it’s because, as a child of the '80s, I find these things to be a bit close to my heart, but isn’t that the way with any film made adapted from another source?

Regardless of the situation with the Transformers or TMNT film series, the idea of a Thundercats movie seems quite hard to grasp for me.  It’s not as though I think the source material can’t support a film adaption, and I truly have been enjoying the new cartoon series even more so than the original from the '80s. But, I just can’t see a way for them to do live-action anthropomorphic cat-people well.  I almost feel as though I should put in my copy of Cats (the musical) and get the same type of visual stimulation from Mr. Mistoffelees.  In addition, how exactly does Bay expect to wrap up the conflict that is central to both cartoon series within 150 minutes at most?  With explosions galore, I am sure.

Chances are I will see the next Transformers film, the new Ninja Turtles flick, and the upcoming Thundercats movie, regardless of my feelings on the matter, but I’ll wait until they come out on DVD or BR; however, the one movie that I would go see in theatres just to see the explosions would be if Michael Bay ever did an adaption of My Little Pony; imagine a torrent of fiery death exploding all around the flutter ponies as they make an aerial assault on Dream Valley.  Who wouldn’t want to see that on the big screen?


Last modified on Thursday, 27 December 2018 17:33

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