With four new character posters and a second trailer, we finally have a good look at the new direction producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman are taking with the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot.
The first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was little more than a short tease of what we could expect from the upcoming movie, and while there was plenty of discussion to be had over the minute details that were shown, it was still a little unclear what the tone or overall vision for the retelling would be. With Transformers, Michael Bay took a silly cartoon and marketed it to teenagers as a popcorn blockbuster, and all signs of Bay’s involvement point to a similar plan here.
But while the Ninja Turtles are a similar nostalgic property to that of Transformers, there’s potentially more versatility in its audience with TMNT. As we’ve typically seen in the past, the turtles can swing toward a younger demographic, but its roots are still set in a very mature, violent world. With such a brief look at the origin story’s reimagining, we’ve been waiting for something more revealing.
The previously released posters for the upcoming film have been particularly on point, first showcasing each of the turtles’ weapons, and then taking on a stylized graffiti concept, but Paramount has now unveiled the first clear look at our new turtles in a set of character posters originally ‘unlocked’ in a Twitter campaign.
The posters do a fantastic job of illustrating just how different each character looks, and say what you want about the specific details of their design, it is nice to see more personality to the characters than a voice and different color headband. The most noticeable unique elements are the liberal adornment of tech to Donatello’s shell and face and the hulking mass of Raphael’s neck and shoulders. Leonardo’s also wearing an interesting bamboo chest piece, but Michelangelo, arguably the turtle with the most personality of them all, barely wears anything of note at all.
Aside from their accessorizing though, the posters reinforce just how strange-looking the new turtles are. The human qualities – particularly the lips and eyes – are unsettling from certain angles. It’s most obvious with Leonardo, whose eyes are unsettling to look at up close (We do not recommend zooming in on the photo of him above).
Posters are decent marketing tool for quickly grabbing attention, and when done properly they can extend the aesthetic of the film they’re promoting (See 2014′s Godzilla for reference) but nothing sells a movie like a trailer, and the newest footage of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally revealed exactly how the movie will operate.
The trailer features our first look at the new Shredder (William Fichtner), and he looks almost like he was assembled by discarded parts from a Decepticon. Fichtner’s character implies in the clip that the armor served a practical purpose before being retrofitted as a robot samurai suit, so clearly Paramount isn’t trying too hard to ground the movie in reality. It may prove to be a smart move if they’re pushing for a lighter tone.
Based on the use of dubstep, a bored-looking Megan Fox and inevitable ‘This is the biggest threat ever faced’ platitudes in the trailer, this is definitely going to feel a lot like Transformers. Whether that works with the turtles is hard to say, but it definitely looks less inspired than we’d hoped, despite some truly spectacular CGI.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a beloved piece of nostalgia for a number of generations across the world, and a lot of that comes down to the combination of outright silliness and surprisingly cool elements that grew out of a ridiculous premise. A team of genetically modified anthropomorphic crime-fighting reptiles should never have been as widely well-received as it has been several times over, and any studio trying to sell the concept will have a hard time making it work. If Jonathan Liebesman can pull it off, Paramount will have a new tentpole franchise to rival the summer’s biggest hits. If not, it could be a major failure to cash in on another nostalgic franchise.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits theaters August 8th.
Images: Paramount Pictures