'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' trailer shows a darker take on the familiar story

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' stars Megan Fox and William Fichtner. 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' will come to theaters on August 8.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' stars Megan Fox.

Easily one of the most contentious film productions of the past year, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot has faced a steady stream of fan outrage – ever since it was first announced that divisive filmmaker Michael Bay would produce the project. Starting with the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neal to reports that the titular heroes would simply be Ninja Turtles of extraterrestrial origin (not Mutant Teenagers), passionate fans of the original Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic series – as well as the subsequent animated shows – have been extremely outspoken about the modern remake’s repeated attempts to defile the beloved brand.

Throughout, Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) have reassured passionate Ninja Turtles lovers that the film will honor the source material, while also providing a new bar for TMNT live-action adventure. To their credit, after a laughable Halloween costume reveal once again sent fans into a fury, leaked images of the actual Turtle designs appeared online – to mostly positive response from casual moviegoers and die-hard Shell Heads alike.

Still, anyone on DeviantArt can update the look of the Turtles, and without seeing the characters in motion, the designs only go so far in providing an idea of what to expect from the feature film. Now, with only five months before the film’s release, we’re finally getting a look at Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the form of an official teaser trailer.

In addition, we now have an official synopsis for the TMNT reboot:

The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.

Unsurprisingly, the footage is short on overt shots of the TMNT heroes – which will no doubt be featured more extensively in the first full trailer for the film. We get a few good looks at the more “realistic” Turtle designs, along with brief glimpses of the shadowy do-gooders in action, but the teaser spends the majority of its time setting up a new version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backstory and world.

Interestingly, the footage is narrated by Eric Sachs/The Shredder (William Fichtner) who, based on his voiceover, indicates that he, along with April O’Neal’s father, created the Turtles (with Ooze) for the purpose of curbing unchecked criminals in New York City. Why a criminal mastermind like Shredder would want to fight crime is, of course, unclear at this point. It’s certainly likely that Shredder’s narration is unreliable and that he actually created the Turtles as weapons to gain an upper hand against competing crime organizations – until the heroes turned on their creator. Another possible explanation could see Shredder setting out with the intention of enforcing justice, only to become corrupted and power-hungry in the process.

Some fans will, without question, balk at the reveal that April’s father was also involved in creating the Turtles but, in terms of delivering the best movie possible, the choice helps provide a more meaningful reason for the reporter to become so obsessed with this particular story (and its heroes). A valiant investigator, willing to put her life in danger for “the truth,” works at surface level but connecting April’s father to Shredder and the Turtles provides a lot more room for human drama to go along with all the Ninja fighting. Plus, mysterious scientific experiments should also open-up the film’s core storyline – so that the filmmakers can explore plenty of fan-favorite characters and ideas in subsequent installments (see: The Amazing Spider-Man movie universe).

Despite all of the cartoonish elements, the trailer’s tone is actually pretty serious – and reaffirms Hollywood’s ongoing effort in providing every superhero franchise a “dark” and “gritty” reboot. That said, don’t expect Platinum Dunes and Nickelodeon Movies to pass up the opportunity to appeal to a whole new generation of Turtle fans – with characters like Michelangelo (not to mention Will Arnett’s Vernon Fenwick) running around, there’s sure to be plenty of humor (and Cowabunga) to go along with the shadowy Ninja action.

Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.