No One Asked But: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Michael Bay Problem

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Posted August 8, 2014 by Matt Sculthorpe in Movies

The Internet can be best described in the words of the immortal Ben Kenobi: “There is not a more retched hive of scum and villainy.” Now, that is a bit of hyperbole but the Internet as I know it is not the most positive place I’ve ever been to and I live in Las Vegas (a place that can also be described by Kenobi’s words). Everyone has an opinion and you’re going to hear it whether you want to or not. The Internet as I know it is also a place of extremes: either something is the best ever or more routinely the worst thing to ever be created in the history of ever. Commenters hide behind a smokescreen of anonymity like the hood of the Dementors, and they, like the wizard world’s prison guards want the same thing: your soul. Again, I kid, as I know of some strongholds of positivity amongst the din of Internet negativity, and they are a great place to engage in discussion. That is unless that discussion pertains to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then everyone straps on their nerd issued Storm Trooper armor and begin to go to war against a single perceived enemy: Director/producer/ all around “Bro” Michael Bay.

Michael Bay on the set of Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 2011

Bay attempting to use the Force.

I’ve noticed that he’s single-handedly blamed for everything the nerd/geeks have found fault in after a year of production stills and 2 trailers. But let’s stop and think which I know is difficult for a culture that strives to be “first” for everything; Michael Bay is only producing, not directing. Now, of course as a producer, he put the ball in motion, and he has been the public face for the project. Film is a collaborative medium, and Bay hasn’t actually ruined everyone favorite weapon wielding amphibians single handedly. Bay is most likely not on set telling actual director Jonathan Liebsman what to do (I say most likely because I like to think he wasn’t). What they are shooting is based on a script that someone at Platinum Dunes, Bay’s production studio, approved. It probably wasn’t Bay himself, as production studios are pretty big entities. Most of you reading know all this, but I feel I have to clarify for those that thing the magic in the phrase “movie magic” is the real deal. It also doesn’t help matters that Bay has been so visible for the project being the person making the matter-of- fact statements about the film and how “great” it is going to be. Bay has maintained a persona as the ultimate “bro” who thinks movies are made for teenage boys with the same sensibilities as him. He has become the butt of a joke across the Internet. In fact, when I started to think of this subject I asked a friend and his response was “Good things about Michael Bay? HAHAHAHA Wow, that’s a good one!” I think it’s that Michael Bay has just lost touch with reality, or the closest thing he’s known to reality.

 

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On set with.. (sigh) April

We nerds are a proud bunch; one that is protective over what  we believe is “ours” (See Lucas, George). It’s not surprising that this is the reaction to a reboot of a beloved franchise, let alone one that from what we seen looks below the standard the property deserves. But again, we know next to nothing about the film, outside to what we’ve seen in the trailers. Sure we can complain about the strange looking “turtles” or the fact that not-so-great actress/know eye candy Megan Fox is playing April O’Neill or the fact that our first look of Shredder looks like something from Transformers. Hell, we can get upset at the original shortened “Ninja Turtles” title and the draft of the script that leaked that drastically changed the Turtles origin, but until the movie is actually seen by our eyes, we can only guess. This is a time in which I totally understand the negativity surrounding a film/project, as it has given us as fans nothing to be exited for, well except for maybe Tony Shaloub as the voice of Master Splinter. But for once, let’s give Bay a break.

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Then again…. maybe not

At one point in my life, I was a big Michael Bay fan (side note: I call these the Dark Times), and will still totally stand up for the first 2/3rds of his work. As said above, Bay makes movies for teenage boys, and I can across those films during that time. From 1995-2007, Michael Bay was a master of making a certain kind of movie. It was easy to get lost in those films with all the kinetic energy and flashiness and I still enjoy them for what they are. Even with Pearl Harbor, which is far from historically accurate, the main action sequence of the titular even is quite something to see on film. But now it is 2014 and he hasn’t made a decent movie in 7(!) years, which coupled with his attitude towards filmmaking and switch of focus to pure spectacle, it has made it hard to be a fan of him, let alone like him. The collective Internet glee earlier this year towards his meltdown at CES only shows that I’m not alone in this. There was something gratifying in see his swagger knocked down a peg, especially with the mess that was Pain and Gain still so fresh in all our minds. In fact I can’t believe that there are people that actually like it. It was an example in everything that has been wrong with post-2007 Bay: The script was all over the place, the cast was misused, the humor was far from humorous and it was far too bloated. The same could be said with Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen and most of Transformers 3: Dark of The Moon, even though I enjoyed the last act of the latter. Where has the man that put Nic Cage and Sean Connery together? Or the director that made Bad Boys so good? This was a director who blew up an actual mansion for a major action sequence in Bad Boys 2! Sure these aren’t the greatest movies of all time, but they sure are fun. Even 2005’s The Island was a swing and miss, but what a mighty swing it was. His latest output of films is far from fun and feels downright tedious. He’s akin to a great pitcher that can’t throw the fast ball anymore.

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When its good, it’s great

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie should be first and foremost fun, so again I understand the grief of the fan base with Bay touching any of it, but let’s not forget that he has done SOME good. Also let’s, as a group of mostly smart people, let’s first view and then review and not the other way around. Now, I am guilty of this as well, but the sheer amount of this pertaining to Turtles was staggering. Next time you see the trailer or some piece of merchandise from the film, don’t shake your fist towards the heavens and shout “BAAAAAAAY!” There’s more than one person to blame, no matter how fun it is to blame the one. Don’t get me wrong either, I think the new movie is going to be a train wreck, but it’s one that I plan on seeing myself, surrounded by the same groans I expect to be making. And if it does in fact play out like I expect it to, I’m grabbing my Han Solo edition blaster and joining in on the riot.


About the Author

Matt Sculthorpe

Resident film geek, enjoys Superman and Thor and survives the wilds of Las Vegas