This morning, Variety reported that the long-in-development "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" reboot has finally found a director in Jonathan Liebesman, the man responsible for "Battle: Los Angeles." Frankly, I think we're in trouble here. The more I'm hearing about this project, the less it's sounding like the Turtles I know.
This is the last thing I want to see, so I've devised a series of measures that need to be followed closely in order to save the next TMNT. With strict adherence and a little luck, all may not be lost.
Seek New Direction
It's not a good sign when the number one way to properly do a reboot is to fire the newly hired director. But based on the gritty "Battle: LA," it isn't hard to imagine that Liebesman will "modernize" the Turtles to a point beyond recognition. Everything we've seen from his previous work can only lead us to believe that his TMNT will be an over-the-top CGI fest. That's not the Turtles we grew up with. That's exactly why they need to…
Keep It Lo-Fi
The original live action adaptations of the Turtles cartoon and comics worked because of the movie magic from Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The green suits and animatronic heads might not get a pass by today's standards, but the idea behind them still stands. The Turtles in the first three movies were physical and tangible. The original report in Variety about Liebesman coming aboard didn't mention how the Turtles will appear, but CGI characters in a live-action setting is the assumption. With this solution, you lose believability in one of the film's main aspects.
Focus on the Martial Arts
It's in the name: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If the fighting isn't up to snuff, people won't care about any Turtles movie. CGI Turtles fighting live-action enemies will seem even more unbelievable than the concept already makes it. Liebesman's resume doesn't inspire much confidence in his ability to direct action in the coherent way fight choreography requires. When it comes to the Turtles, fighting comes before everything else except…
Without the pithy wordplay, the Turtles are just like every other reptilian martial arts expert. Leonardo leads. Donatello does machines. Raph is cool but rude. Michelangelo is the party dude. It's a very careful formula that has proven successful for decades. No banter would turn the characters into slightly odd, boring action heroes.
To make this a true reboot, explore the origin story and make Shredder the main villain. He is the classic Turtles villain, and no one else deserves the bad guy role in what's hopefully the first of many movies. You can save Krang for the sequels, but make sure you get to him. Shredder needs to be there at the very beginning, trying to kill the Turtles for whatever reason he's always had.
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