Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:06 am

People are defending this hideous Michael Bay film of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by saying, in effect, that it was a worthless franchise to begin with. Seriously? I'd call it a nearly-perfect idea for a kids' franchise. It's about turtle ninjas. Fun-loving teenage mutant ninja turtles. If you can hear that and not understand why a boy would find that entertaining, then I hope you're not working in kids' television.

Image

Bonus:
Image

It's worth pointing out that the turtles have remained popular for about thirty years now, and have never been off of television screens and toy shelves for long. There was a theatrical movie in 2007. And right now there's a TV series on Nickelodeon which is pretty popular. So why make this ugly mess of a movie?

After thirty years there are plenty of grown-ups with fond memories of the turtles, and their comics, movies, video games, toys and TV series. So why make a Transformers-style film which bears no resemblance to the source material and has none of its sense of whimsical fun?

And they're still a popular and viable franchise for today's kids. So, why? Just ... why?

"Reinventing" the Turtles as these freaks of nature speaks to a certain disgust for the source material, as if kids were dumb for liking the characters as they were. The same sort of contempt led to dozens, maybe hundreds of knock-off cash-in franchises at the time - Biker Mice From Mars, Wild West C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa - almost none of which anyone even remembers today.

Bonus:

http://gamecola.net/wp-content/uploads/ ... /turt4.gif

http://www.toydealer.de/xtcommerce/imag ... /572_0.jpg

The original NES TMNT game used this art by Michael Dooney, painted for the comics:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aZ9xCzUqOeU/T ... xArt01.jpg
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:27 am

Jesse Mills wrote:
People said the same thing about The Smurfs and Transformers, G.I. Joe and (soon to go into production) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. "Worthless franchise, toy commercial" etc. As if each of those properties weren't HUGE, imaginative worlds, ripe for epic storytelling. Stuff that could be cinematically stretched and expanded, to be appreciated by the people that grew up with them AND their kids. There's a reason these properties have been around so long. The source material is indelible, archetypal stuff. Shit, J. Michael Strascynski and Paul Dini helped create He-Man. Larry Hama wrote some of the formative Wolverine stories AND helped create G.I. Joe. Kevin Eastman would go on to become the publisher of Heavy Metal magazine, THE name in adult fantasy. These studios are dropping the ball big time by treating these properties like cheap Halloween costumes that anyone can wear. These stories weren't created by morons. They were created by guys who would go on to become some of the best in their field.


I would argue that TMNT is a much more intelligent, cohesive and savvy creation than any of those, though. It wasn't even a toy commercial in its original form as an indie comic, although the TV series was.

While I didn't watch or collect Transformers as a kid, the toys are real feats of design and engineering and the 1986 feature film, which I watched much later as a teenager, is impressive and far beyond anything Michael Bay could imagine.

And imagination is the point. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is not a very coherent world - it's a mishmash of things boys would like to see in a toyline. We get the best of both worlds. It's a fantasy world with castles and kings and magic, with the lead character originating as a G-rated Conan the Barbarian, but there is also technology of a vaguely Star Wars sort. The toys were sturdy and built to survive a lot of damage, and most of them had action features. There were lots of vehicles, and it was all perfect stuff for a young boy's imagination to play with. Monsters and creatures and adventure of all kinds.

It's also pretty stupid stuff from an adult point of view - just throwing a lot of things at the wall and making it work. Ninja Turtles, as a toyline, was much the same thing. They were sturdy toys built to withstand being thrown against a wall. There were bizarre creatures and monsters and robots and ninjas and everything a boy would want to play with.

But Ninja Turtles had a sense of humor about it, and a quirky, peculiar ethos that tied it all together as a coherent whole. Kids liked He-Man because of what the characters looked like, and what their action figures did. Kids liked the Ninja Turtles because of their individual personalities. Archetypes familiar from other comics about heroes. The leader, the rebel, the technician, the party dude. We all had a favorite.

We liked their weapons, which promised a world of martial arts violence to be reenacted on the playground, in video games, or with the toys. We liked that the original comics had blood and swearing in them, and that even though the TV show was light and goofy, the original comics and a lot of the artwork had a darker feel, with the Turtles having eyes like Batman.

From the start, TMNT was a smart creation which had it both ways. It wasn't uncommon at the time to see "funny animal" or other quirky adventure comics that mashed up old genres in a playful way. Usagi Yojimbo, Howard the Duck, Groo the Wanderer. Comics were getting darker as well, and had come a long way from what the creators had read as kids.

Ninja Turtles had it both ways - the writing had a dark superhero quality about it, but it was conceived as a goof, with a cast that it was impossible to take as seriously as the writing suggested. While I can't say for sure what Eastman and Laird were thinking, the characters are a good argument in favor of comic books being fun again.

Recently, Dan Slott had Marvel heroine Squirrel Girl say the following:
"Maybe it's just me, but I'm not crazy about super hero stories where everything's all dark and moody. Personally, I like the ones where good guys fight giant apes on the moon and stuff. Remember those? I do. That was back when comic book worlds were places you wanted to escape to... not from."

The writing in those Turtle books was not unlike what the X-Men or Batman might go through. But at heart the comic was a collection of fun stuff, like all comics should arguably be. Splinter, as originally conceived, was a pet rat who learned martial arts by watching his master - and vowed revenge on his master's killer.

The very kid-friendly animated series, and everything that came from it, was very much a series where "good guys might fight giant apes on the moon." Actually, it went a lot father than that, with all sorts of strange creatures and situations. What kid didn't love Krang, and Bebop and Rocksteady? It was wacky fun, and more importantly the sort of wacky fun that inspired more wacky adventures on the playground, and with the toys, and in the minds of any kid of the era.

We need more franchises like that.

If TMNT had never happened, you could launch it today and be just as successful.

And they have, multiple times. 2003, 2007, 2012.

Mattel relaunched He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in 2002, as well. I wouldn't say it took over the world but it lasted 39 episodes and brought the old toyline back as well, with some remarkable updated versions of the characters, that built on the potential the original designs had.

It's the same situation as any comic book franchise like Batman and the X-Men. You need to give these properties to filmmakers who really understand and appreciate their appeal, and don't feel the need to "reinvent" them until they're unrecognizable and lack all imagination, bogged down by the constraints of what the filmmaker calls the real world.

This isn't about the real world. This is about entertainment and fun and fighting gorillas on the moon.

If you're going to bring back these characters, do it with love. There's a reason why The Fantastic Four and Superman and so on have lasted this long, and they deserve better than they've been getting.

Marvel gets it, with the Avengers movies. You walk into one of those and you're seeing your childhood favorites up on the screen, reinvented in a way that captures the appeal that the characters have always had.

In summary, Michael Bay's a baboon. Let's fight him on the moon.
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:08 pm

How Chris Evans got tired of fame:
http://www.vulture.com/2014/03/timeline ... -fame.html

Come on Captain, do it for America.
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Re: Super Mario Bros: The Movie: The Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:30 pm

Hollywood is the enemy of whimsy, sucking all the fun and joy out of everything. Look at the "movies" they've made called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Alice in Wonderland. Or the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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Re: Super Mario Bros: The Movie: The Thread

Postby Dennis196492 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:40 pm

Super Mario Bros.'s lack of whimsy and emotional conection comes from it's convoluted production, mainly from the people who were fighting to make it a kids film or a edgy film, it's all Disney's fault, basicaly. These later No Fun Allowed movies are made with the sole purpose of cashing in previously stabilished franchises and attract brain-dead idiots to buy a ticket and watch bullshit for 2 hours, SMB sorta began as a cash-in but if it really was trying to be that then the final product would be nothing more than a stupid incoherent mess, while I can argue that what we got was a occasionally stupid, but coherent mess.
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Re: Super Mario Bros: The Movie: The Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:01 pm

Whimsy and emotion were out the window the minute those directors were hired. The first Bennett/Runte script has its moments but it's not a hugely different film from what was shot. It was also clearly rewritten in a hurry, with their original Ghostbusters idea thrown out and nothing really taking its place. The whole conception of the film was done in a real hurry somehow. There's more spark in a single scene of the fantasy script to be honest.

It would have been hard to make a good Super Mario Bros. film at the time, but this is also a typical example of Hollywood having its own very limited and unimaginative ideas of what is and isn't acceptable and possible to do in a feature film. Within those confines they'll spend crazy money and do all sorts of ridiculous nonsense that has nothing to do with the real world, as long as it roughly matches the sorts of things that other films are doing and have done. Howard the Duck is one of these. They've thrown out what made the character work, and in its place ILM and the crew do the exact sort of thing they do on other films. It's basically an ILM FX reel. And a deeply uncomfortable and weird film, but done in the confines as to what a George Lucas movie was considered to be at that time.

A fantasy-style treatment of Super Mario Bros would have been entirely possible - like a Jim Henson film - but executives wouldn't have thought so. To make it into a "normal movie" they spent a lot of money creating something that is really quite deeply strange.

Koopa's human, and all the characters are human, because movies star humans. We don't have the money to make them all dinosaurs or something. Except that we do. We'll build a bunch of dinosaurs and not use them much. But they've got to be realistic and believable. This world can't be a fantasy kingdom, that's ridiculous. It's got to be ... well, something a lot more ridiculous, actually. Since kingdoms and castles existed and exist. But never mind. Let's make everything an exaggerated music video sort of world and rip off another successful film. Blade Runner will do, since we're not doing Ghostbusters since the directors don't have a sense of humor.

My point being, there are certain confines as to what a movie can and can't be which are set by executives, largely, and by directors who can't imagine a more fantastic take on the material. And these limits are absolutely arbitrary. There's no reason why The Hitchhiker's Guide had to lose all its jokes, and Alice in Wonderland become a cliched hero's journey action film. These films reflect the times they were made in, and the lack of imagination by those who made them. This is how you get those hideous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Michael Bay's idea of "believable and realistic," I suppose, even though the turtles already worked brilliantly onscreen in 1990, with a much better director.

There are things that do, and don't, work onscreen. But Mario and Luigi's costumes onscreen are actually less realistic and more cartoonish than their video game counterparts, and that's pretty crazy. And the film creates a very bizarre world which is supposedly a more "realistic" or "mature" take on the material - but isn't realistic or mature at all. It's just peculiar, and based on what the directors were familiar with from Max Headroom.

They had their own take on the material, fine. But any other director could have had a completely different take. Nothing is impossible on film, not really, not even in 1992. Not on that budget, with all they spent on it. It would have just taken a different vision.
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Re: Super Mario Bros: The Movie: The Thread

Postby Dennis196492 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:22 pm

Well I guess you're right, but it's less about what can be done and more at what can be shown, and they couldn't exactly show what they wanted to show because the whole production was a mess. There never was a proper time to make this movie.

One thing is throwing out all the stuff that made the original charming, like Howard the Duck, but other thing is creating something drastically different from what was previously known since the original thing didn't had much to it, and for Mario is really copmplicated because it essentially doesn't has story or characters, all they had at the time was a few comics and a low-budget cartoon show that makes even less sense than the Sonic cartoon. My guess would be that they decided to throw everything out to make their own thing.

Don't forget also that there things that only work well in their own medium, and especially for the time, a Mario movie like the games would look insanely stupid on-screen, the problem is that it really shouldn't have been made, but since it was I'm thankful that it turned out better than what expected judging by the mess that was it's production
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Re: Super Mario Bros: The Movie: The Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:42 pm

I can see why they'd have been stumped about what to do with a Mario film, especially at the time, when most of those involved hadn't played the games, and wouldn't have any interest in the mentality of the kids playing them.

But that wouldn't hold up if they were attempting one today. They'd have to come up with ... something.

Today, there's no excuse for Ninja Turtles .... or Hitchhiker's, or Alice ... then again, we know what those are supposed to be like.

For Mario, they'd have to come up with ... something. And the demands of today's filmmaking would mean something much cartoonier, for better or for worse.

It's just strange how artificial the limits imposed on filmmaking are. You could put anything in those two hours, but yet scripts are all the same.
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:52 am

Controversial recasting for Captain America 3. "We were inspired by the Fantastic Four casting," say the Russo Brothers. "We knew we needed to skew younger too."
https://31.media.tumblr.com/b61cd94e479 ... 1_1280.jpg
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