The first teaser trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has finally landed, and it's pretty much how we imagined it would be. Except for a couple of things. It turns out that the Turtles have an origin story that is more controversial than extraterrestrial. And the Turtles themselves are both exactly what we thought they'd be, and not quite what we expected. There's plenty of fast action and big moments. Yet, we really don't see too much of the movie at all. We don't even get a look at Splinter, the giant sewer dwelling rat that trains these four outcast brothers in the ways of ninjutsu. Is this the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie we wanted? Maybe not...But it still looks pretty awesome in a very Transformers-type way. Here are 6 things we learned about TMNT 2014 just from the trailer...
1 Shredder is the Turtles' Real Father
Heroes are not born. They are created. It seems that Shredder and April O'Neil's father were in some sort of heated relationship, in a lab buried deep underneath the ground. There, they created four outcast teenage brothers who would rise up from the sewers. Our only hope for survival as Shredder prepares to take over New York with the help of his Foot Clan soldiers. Does the movie have an agenda? Is it a thinly veiled dissertation on gay parenting? Certain folks believe that two gay dads are going to raise mutants, but it's those same mutants that actually save the world. You can call me crazy, but the subtext is there. And it's a good message, so why're you going to get mad at me for pointing it out. This new origin story goes against what we know from the cartoon and comic book series. While some were upset that the Ninja Turtles might have alien DNA, it seems that the writers have subverted that to give us something perhaps a little more controversial. It should also be pointed out that, in this scenario, April is Mike, Don, Ralph and Leo's sister (sort of). That helps get us past any awkward puberty moments between the Turtles and the very attractive young woman now hiding out in their sewer lair.
2Michael Bay's Hands Are All Over the Movie
While Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman is taking credit for the movie, its clear that Michael Bay was always standing by his side, helping along in the decision making process. This thing is big and grandiose. The kind of gloriously over-the-top action extravaganza we've come to expect out of Michael Bay. It looks just like the Transformers movies, and if we didn't know he wasn't at the helm, we wouldn't be able to tell the difference. This is good for spectacle, not so great for story. Hopefully it's not a muddled affair like the Hasbro franchise, which only comes alive when something humongous is happening on screen. There's no doubt, looking at this footage, that we're getting a Michael Bay film. His dirty, grubby little hands are all over this thing. And we love it. Don't know about you, but this is exactly what we wanted out of the movie.
3 The Action Will Be Very Violent
Maybe you're too young to remember. But when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze came out in 1991, moms threw a fit. They thought the first movie was far too violent, and thus we were left with a sequel that barely had any ninjutsu in it at all. Instead, we got Vanilla Ice singing 'Go Ninja, Go Ninja Go!' Fun on a nostalgic level, but a far bigger blow to the franchise than any damage this thing might do. Right off the bat, Michael Bay lets us know this isn't our mom's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie by blowing the head off a Foot soldier. It looks like blood, but its probably alien ooze. Either way, it's a great introduction to what promises to be an extremely violent summer movie (albeit cartoon violence). The trailer is short, but its certainly not boring. We can expect some of the best action seen in August when we finally get to see the whole thing.
4 There Will Be a Big Action Scene that Takes Place in the Snow
And speaking of action, one of the key action set pieces takes place in the snowy mountains. Why? Because shells make natural sleds. That's the only reason this scene exists. Well, also because Michael Bay is obsessed with snow covered action scenes, and he hardly gets to do them. He wanted the Friday the 13th reboot sequel to take place entirely in the snow. That movie never happened. So, they moved some of those scenes over to this. If the turtles weren't heroes on the half-shell, it's likely that the locale would be different. But so what? This certainly appeals to kids, the audience it was intended for. And it looks cool. When it comes to summer fare like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, isn't that what truly matters?
5 The Turtles are Bigger Than We Thought
While we saw the Turtles on some advanced promos and in action figure form, I don't think anyone realized how much bigger they are from their original incarnation and in the cartoons. They tower over humans. And in a weapons fight, the Foot doesn't stand a chance. They are dehumanized, and less relatable in a way that some folks aren't happy with. This isn't the cartoon! Some fans also think they aren't anthropomorphized enough. And that they have really strange looking faces. But have we really ever seen the turtles without their masks on, like we do in the trailer? Not that I can remember. Maybe way back in the black and white comic books of the mid-80s. Even though they are giants, they still feel like Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael. They haven't lost their soul, and the actors sound like the Turtles we remember, which is a good thing.
6 The Reboot Pays Homage to the Live Action Movies that Came Before It
While this is a bigger, badder, more violent version of what's come before it, its clear that the general appeal of the franchise has not been lost. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 actually feels like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990. The tone is the same, and the creative team seems to have really pulled from the aesthetic of those original movies. There are nitpicks to be sure, but this comes on more like a traditional sequel than it does a straight up reboot of the material. It seems that enough of the series' mystique and aura has been left in tact. Sure, we have to suffer through a slightly new and altered origin story, but giant turtles swinging swords is what we want to see, and this movie seems to deliver that in spades.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer has brought mixed reactions from fans. We think it looks like a lot of fun. Even if some of the beloved details have been slightly altered or altogether changed. This looks like escapist summer cinema at its best, and it's going to be a blockbuster no matter what. Guaranteed, the 3 to 8-year-old set aren't complaining too loudly this morning. No, they are watching this trailer on repeat. If some of you older fans can let go of the nostalgia, maybe you'll be able to do the same. Either way, this looks no better or worse than the Transformers.