What does TMNT co-creator Peter Laird think of the trailer for the reboot?
It seems like almost everyone has an opinion on the first trailer for Jonathan Liebesman's TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, including Peter Laird, co-creator of the comics. Laird recently spoke with CBM, and shared his thoughts on the first trailer. I think you're going to be very interested in what he has to say.
Laird's first reaction to the trailer:
I was impressed with what I saw of the production values -- if nothing else, it looks like the new TMNT movie will have a lot of stuff going on and looking good (that toppling tower, for example) -- but the changes to the basic design of the Turtles seemed to me to fall into the "fixing what is not broken" category. It's altogether possible that, in the context of this new movie, these designs will work well and not seem so odd, but I still point to what Jim Henson's "Creature Shop" team did with their rendering of the Turtles in rubber and paint as the best translation (in live action, anyway) of the Turtles as Kevin Eastman and I created them.
That being said, so far I have only seen this short trailer with just a few brief glimpses of the Turtles. My opinion could change. One thing that comes to mind if how cool it would be if someone did CGI versions of those same Henson designs, with all the incredible flexibility and seamless action potential available with today's CGI.
Peter Laird was asked if the turtles are over-stylized (Raphael's sunglasses, Donatello's goggles, etc.):
It may just be a personal preference of mine -- and one informed by twenty-five years with the Turtles as co-creator working on those green dudes -- but the extra "stuff" added to the Turtles' outfits just seems extraneous to me, and a bit silly in spots (I mean, thin bamboo armor for a Turtle's shell?). Maybe it will work, but right now, I don't see it. I prefer the simpler versions.
Laird was also asked if he thinks the turtles are too big, and if it concerns him:
A little, but maybe it will work. I'll wait until I see the whole movie before I make up my mind on that one.
On April O'Neil's father and Shredder working together:
I am not sure there is enough revealed so far to allow a conclusive judgement on what connection, exactly, there is between what the Shredder (with or without the involvement of April's father) is doing and how the Turtles became mutated. Something is suggested, but it is not entirely clear what. I do have to say that my gut reaction to having what MIGHT be such a close connection between April and her father and the Shredder and the Turtles's origin is that I am not crazy about it. However, I am open to being surprised by a plot which makes that odd (to me) twist make sense. I guess we'll see if it does when the movie opens.
His thoughts on the Turtles being created by someone, and not from an accident in the reboot:
As you know, in our original conception of the TMNT, the Turtles' existence as mutated beings WAS the result of an accident… or several accidents, if you count
-- TCRI canister jolted out of truck
-- canister bouncing off head of young guy saving old man from getting run over by truck
-- canister on new trajectory now hitting and smashing open glass container with the pre-mutated turtles in it
-- canister and turtles falling into manhole together
-- turtles crawling around in ooze from canister
-- Splinter (in pre-mutated form) observing all of this, and then getting into the ooze himself as he gathers up the turtles.
I have always found that accidental, somewhat random series of events culminating in the creation of the TMNT to be a significant part of the charm of the story. Somehow, retconning it to make their origin the result of deliberate action seems like a mistake. However, perhaps the writers have found a clever way to make this seems more palatable. We'll have to watch the movie to find out.
Shortly after the first trailer was released, a fan digitally "fixed" a couple of the turtles' faces (image above), and CBM wanted to know Peter Laird's opinion on them.
It's interesting, and well done, and I think it points up one of the big problems (for me, anyway) with the new look created for the upcoming movie -- with those noses and very expressive lips, their faces look too human. Perhaps it is just my own personal preference, but the "noseless beak" look for the Turtles which Kevin and I used in all of our comics, and in pretty much all of the licensed material during the Mirage days (and which was really there from the very beginning, when Kevin drew that first "ninja turtle") is, in my opinion, a great way to immediately show that these guys are not human -- they're mutated reptiles. Creatures.
Of course, I could be wrong about the new design -- maybe in the context of the movie, it will work fine. From what I have seen so far, it is an excellent example of state-of-the-art character CGI. Perhaps it will become more popular than the noseless style which was used for the first twenty-five years. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Peter Laird wraps things up by talking about how the trailer reminded him of when a company wanted to do a live-action TMNT film without turtle masks, and with just green paint on their faces.
I do have to make one further comment about it, though. When I watched that trailer for the first time, and came to that bit near the end where Michelangelo takes off his bandana, revealing his full face to April, complete with human-looking nose, I immediately flashed back to the early days, back in 1984 or 1985 when we were living in Sharon, CT and just beginning to take steps into the world of licensing the TMNT. It was during that time that we received a letter from a small movie company -- I think it was New World -- offering us a deal to do a live-action TMNT movie, wherein they suggested that the way to go was to choose some (at that point in time) "hot" young comedians, dress them up in Turtle costumes, but leave their faces bare… except for a layer of green paint, so their zany comic expressions could be easily visible.
As you probably know, we turned that one down. Remember, this was well before the first animated TMNT series was even a glimmer in anyone's eye. It's intriguing to contemplate what the history of the TMNT might have been had we accepted that first live-action movie offer.
So it appears Peter Laird's issues with the reboot are the same as most fans, however he still sounds optimistic about the film.The action definitely looks like it'll be bigger than anything we've seen before in the previous TMNT films. I'm not expecting TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES to be exactly the same as the cartoons, the live-action films or the comics, but it still might be a fun film to check out.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES will be in theaters on August 8th, 2014.
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