Earlier this week, fans of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” franchise (who still wear footy pajamas and eat cereal stuffed with marshmallows) became incensed when an early version of the proposed remake’s script (entitled “Ninja Turtles” and written by “Alias” alums Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec) was both posted and reviewed by website TMNT NOT TANT (the website’s name is a reference to the reboot’s extraterrestrial origin for the characters). Paramount, who is set to distribute the Platinum Dunes-produced project in the summer of 2014, ordered the script to be taken down, and now Michael Bay, one of the film’s producers, has spoken about the script (Latino Review spotted his comments, via Screen Rant).
The widely derided script had the villainous Shredder turned into a power mad colonel named Schrader who amasses the Foot not as an evil clan of ninjas but a clandestine army. The Turtles are largely secondary characters (and not all that special given they are just some random turtles from a whole extraterrestrial race), with an emphasis instead focused on high school-aged versions of hockey-puck-wielding psycho Casey Jones and plucky reporter April O’Neill (who’s about to get an internship in New York City). It doesn’t help that the story is packed, front to back, with absolutely horrendous dialogue and comes across less like a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” remake than some unholy, Frankenstein’s monster of “The Amazing Spider-Man” grafted to Bay’s ‘Transformers’ films.
Well, fear not! Bay proclaims: “The leaked script for ‘Ninja Turtles’ that different sites continue to comment on was written well before I, or anyone at Platinum Dunes, was involved with the project. That script saw the shredder a long time ago.” [Insert pause for rim-shot/laugh track] “This is tired, old news — Wait for the movie!” Except that, as Screen Rant points out, the draft was dated January 2012, which was only a month or so before Bay and his company Platinum Dunes boarded the project (and installed Jonathan Liebesman, who directed splatter-punk prequel “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” for the company). Just how long ago could this possibly have been junked and completely reconceived? We know that pre-production work on the project was halted for the summer so the script and budget could be reconfigured but still, it kind of sounds like Bay is blowing hot air.
We’re still somewhat optimistic about the project given that Applebaum and Nemec are protégés of J.J. Abrams, who turned in the script to last year’s amazing “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (although, granted, Tom Cruise’s go-to script guy Christopher McQuarrie did a lot of work on that thing, and in an early trailer even shared a co-writing credit). Maybe this thing can turn around and capture the kind of gee-whiz wonder that the early “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoons and movies contained. While the filmmakers have claimed they’re going for a vibe similar to this spring’s “The Raid: Redemption” (which next month’s “Dredd” replicates fairly well actually), maybe a better approach should be to ape the super ’80s “Steven Spielberg presents…”-meets-superhero-movie vibe of the original film.
We’ll see soon enough, as Paramount is still steadfastly committed to releasing the film on May 16th, 2014.