Here’s part two (of two) of my Evolution of TMNT article.
TMNT – Animated Movie (2007)
The rebirth of the turtles in the new millennium resurrected plans for a new feature length film, but this time going down the CGI path in a bid to save money more than anything else. When the simply titled TMNT was announced, it looked like this version would harken back more so to the original comic books. While that was true to an extent, it was a real mix of everything we’ve had before. The look of the turtles were lean and mean, thanks largely to not being constrained by men in suits and animatronics. Their design was a rich flavour of the cartoons and live action films, with a hint of the original comic book designs from later issues. Overall this was deemed a success, and certainly helped path the way for future projects.
INTERESTING FACT: The plot line for this film is almost identical to the plot for the fifth Highlander film, Highlander; the Source (not really worth watching)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Cartoon TV Series (2012)
In 2009, Viacom announced they’d purchased the full rights for TMNT from co-creator Peter Laird, and were to embark on a new cartoon series for their Nickelodeon platform. The show would be fully CG and when the designs were first leaked, the general reaction was positive. Given the platform they would air on, the turtles look was on the more friendly side, but thanks to it being a 3D animated show, the action sequences helped elevate their presence to a more threatening level and personality. I’m a big fan of this version as I feel it gets a lot right, finding that balance of pleasing new and old fans alike.
INTERESTING FACT: Season 4 Episode 10 saw a brilliantly executed crossover between the 2012, the 1987, and the original comic book turtles, all played out in their relevant styles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Live Action Movie (2014)
Viacom’s next move was to relaunch a live action film series. Sadly they turned to Michael Bay to help produce this. Tempers flared when it was suggested that the origin story would completely change, making the turtles an alien race! Another leaked script caused even more outrage, and the on-set photos with the turtle stand-in actors looked baffling. The final result was not much better. I have to say I hate how these turtles look. They are grotesque and an example of someone playing too much and too long with a CG stick. Part of me admires their attempts, but I had to stop watching the second instalment after the open scene as I’d already enough of the CG fest.
INTERESTING FACT: While Peter Laird & Kevin Eastman defended the rumours of the turtles being aliens, even they protested when an early script draft got leaked because it sounded so terrible.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Cartoon TV Series (2018)
Despite the general love for the 2012 series, Nickelodeon wanted to revamp the cartoon show. The interesting twist this time was going back to a more traditional 2D animation style and making each turtle based on a different breed. The team responsible for the designs had previously worked on the incredible Samurai Jack series, which does show quite a bit. The designs have definitely divided the fans. Raphael looks too different (and too big) compared to the others, and there’s much more of a fantasy element to the series on a whole. Maybe with time, we’ll grow to love this a bit more.
INTERESTING FACT: The action figure for Meat Sweats is ridiculous. The character is also voiced by Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols.
As for the future, there are already plans for another live action film reboot which, hopefully, will look and feel a bit closer to what we know and love the turtles to be (i.e Michael Bay’s not involved). And while strictly not a solo project, the latest animated feature film Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could prove to be a hit with us die-hard TMNT fans. Of course, the real legacy of TMNT still thrives in the comic books, so rest assured there will always be a safe place for us to go. Here’s to the next 35 years….