There were two artists that originally created our pizza loving friends. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were goofing around, and Eastman drew a picture of a turtle with nun-chucks and labeled it a “Ninja Turtle”. Laird drew a better turtle, so Eastman drew four more, now each with a separate weapon. Knowing they were onto something that was at least fun, Laird outlined this and labeled them “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (fun fact – this original drawing just sold for a bit over $71,000 at auction).
From there, they needed to flesh out the story a bit. They started by trying to name the Turtles by giving them Japanese names, but that didn’t work so well. The names were unruly and easy to forget – so they decided to give them the recognizable names of the Renaissance artists that we know and love – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Then came some more story, and from here they started to heavily borrow ideas from one of their favorite comic story lines: Daredevil: The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller.
How much of did they borrow? Quite a lot actually. For instance, Splinter, the turtles father figure and sensei is easily paralleled with the character Stick that is Daredevil’s teacher (Get it? Stick and Splinter, ha, ha, ha). Next, there is the Turtles main set of bad guys – the Foot Clan, which is a bunch of ninjas running around New York. Want to take a guess what the group of ninjas fighting Daredevil in New York are called? The Hand. Zing!
Finally, the biggest inspiration is the original Turtles origin story (not the crappy one that this one has – which I will write about shortly). Matt Murdock, in Daredevil #1, is given his powers when a radioactive substance falls off a truck and sprays him in the eyes, blinding him forever. In the original TMNT comics, the turtles are together in a small box and a box of radioactive substance falls off a truck and spills all over them. A few lessons in the ancient Japanese art of ninjutsu from a Japanese rat and - Bada bing bada boom – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Ok, so now that you, my Wonderful Reader, have a better understanding of the Turtles origins, can you see where I’m going to go with this?
I didn’t love this movie. I didn’t hate this movie. For me, to use Shannon’s words, it was just ok. I thought that lots of the ideas were pretty dull, and the overuse of CGI was just ridiculous. I miss the days of practical effects (I’ll talk more about this in the post on the sequel to this movie), and the CGI makes these turtles just seem out of control. For instance, why do the Turtles need to be outrageously huge? Why do they need to have these bulging biceps that conveniently have straps around them to
good things the Turtles have. They were teenagers so they would be relatable. They are mutants so they would be relatable. They were ninjas so they would be awesome, and they were turtles because isn’t it ridiculous to picture a slow moving reptile as a ninja?
So of those four qualities, I can only check off two (maybe even 1.25). They are kinda ninjas, but you very rarely see their skills in any meaningful ways besides a few shadow scenes. They are indeed turtles, but we seem to be stretching it at that point. You can call them teenagers all you want, but they sure don’t seem like it (side note here – apparently Michael Bay originally wanted it to just be Mutant Ninja Turtles, and due to the outrage added back the teenage – this could possibly explain
The idea of having her be the reason behind the turtles is just another idea (which I mention in the Now You See Me posts) about things getting tied up all nice and with a bow. Everybody in the story doesn’t have to be related. For all we know, we are going to find out that Shredder was actually April’s brother in a later movie (I want royalties when you take that Michael Bay).
Despite all its problems, it was still good to see the Turtles back on screen, enjoying their pizza and having a ball. I give TMNT A “C-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"