Captain Obvious Reviews: NINJA TURLES SCRIPT [MASSIVE SPOILERS]
The Michael Bay produced reboot of the popular 80's franchise has been met with alot of backlash. Just recently after production on the film was shut down for rewrites, the first draft published earlier this year leaked online. After reading it, I'm here to give my review. Read it after the jump. [WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT]
First off, I should point out I did not grow up on TMNT. I was born in the early 90's and never watched the original cartoon. But a movie should be good despite whether or not you're familiar with the source material. I found the script when somebody posted a link in their review. As someone aspiring for a career in film, I wanted to check this script out for myself and see if the reviewer was right about it being bad.
Unfortunately, he was.
18 year old Casey Jones is going nowhere in life. His friends have moved on. His girlfriend April O' Neal has a prosperous career in NYC. He also works a security guard at a furniture factory. But all of that changes when one night, he stumbles upon a secret underground government hideout and finds four humanoid turtles. From there, he and the reptilian "mutants" uncover a plot to destroy Earth and are set on a course to discovering the Turtles' secret past.
As you can probably tell from this synopsis, the focus of this story is exactly where you don't want it to be. It's also the script's biggest problem. Casey Jones is the focus here and not the Ninja Turtles like you would expect in a movie called "Ninja Turtles." You would think that would be bad enough. But no. This script goes out of its way to make Casey an annoying, unlikable character. Here, April wants him to come with her to NYC, but Casey always rebuttals that he has "big" responsiblities at home. However, his responsibilities consist of playing hockey with men in their 30's and 40's, and working as a security guard. He just doesn't know a good opportunity when he sees it.
Even though I know little about TMNT, I know well enough that Casey is supposed to be a young adult and a vigilante. Here, he's just some punk who gets caught up in an interdimensional war and somehow becomes the central focus of the story. Sound familiar to another film based on an 80's franchise that Bay was involved with? Another problem here is April. In the show, despite always being the damsel in distress, she was willing to throw herself into danger to get her job done. Here, she's made as nothing more than nagging eye-candy and a prize for Casey. On top of that, she's a stupid character. She wants Casey to come with her to NYC because she has an intership at CBS News. What could Casey possibly do in New York? He's a typical deadbeat boyfriend who will only hold her back. You should know by now that Bay does not understand women.
You probably want to know about the Turtles now. You really wish you hadn't. Remember the days when they were fun-loving masters of ninjistu? Those days are gone. Now, the Turtles are just brooding, bickering heroes. Sure, some parts of their personalities are the same. But they never seem to act like the fun-loving teenagers people are familiar with. They're determined to get the job done, but they're not confident and optimistic like we know them to be. Plus, Raphael is the most obnoxious of the group. He's just an angry, whiny brat who has some of the worst lines in the script. Every attempt of his at being funny fails. Don't believe me? Here's a line from the script:
"Kung Fu? What do we look like... cartoon Panda bears?"
As you've probably guessed from that line, the dialouge is pretty cringe-worthy. Almost every joke in this movie is a witty pop culture reference. It's like those two hacks (They Who Must Not Be Named) who wrote Epic Movie and Disaster Movie got ahold of this script. I'll admit, one scene did make me chuckle. When the Turtles stow away in April's U-Haul truck, Casey goes to a gas station and gets them pizza. They procede to criticize the quality of it and compare it to other pizzas they like. It makes me wish every scene was like that.
I'm going to get the character stuff out of the way since I've spent several paragraphs writing about it. This script has a bad case of Spider-Man 3 syndrome. Too many villains and none of them given proper time to develop. There are 4 villains in this movie: Shredder (Here, a colonel named Schrader and leader of a military squad called The Foot. God, shot me.), Krang (Who only has 2 lines of dialouge and isn't revealed until the 3rd act.), Bebop, and Rocksteady. The latter two are the only ones who resemble and act like the versions fans know and love. Shredder is given the worst treatment of them all. He's been so altered that the writers might as well just cut him and replace him with a new character. Splinter fairs decently, but is the weakest character in the film. In every action scene where he's present, he is always getting his ass kicked.
While the script isn't that good for the first 80 pages are so, it's still just a generic action flick and has not dived into the realm of stupidity. That all changes in the third act. You know that whole "Ninja Turtles being aliens" angle that you all hated so much? They manage to screw up their own take, too. Yes, the idea is dumb as hell. But seeing how it is the writer's idea, you would think they would be try to make it work. But easily, they find a way to screw it up. The Turtles are aliens, but they're from Dimension X and the prophecy tells that they are the Chosen Ones destined to save both worlds and bring an end to a war. This is where I laughed the hardest and stopped reading for awhile.
Forget whether or not you hate the concept of them being aliens. Realize that they are trying to make their idea work with some of the dumbest and worst cliches in cinema history. Every tired "Chosen one" cliche is used here. Parents being killed by the villain (Krang). Children being sent away for their safety and to one day bring about peace. Said children not discovering their destiny and mysterious pasts until adulthood. Villain telling children that they had the same facial expressions that their parents had when they were killed. The laughable content and stupid cliches are why this plot point cannot work. It's as if the writers gave up and stopped putting effort and believing in their work. If they don't care, why should the audience?
The bottom line is the Ninja Turtles script is every fanboy's nightmare come alive. It butchers the source material without taking new risks or creating new ideas to make up for it. There is only a few spots of potential in here, but it's all squandered under the weight of it's unoriginality and stupidity. No passion exists in this script. It's just written as another cash cow that Hollywood will milk beyond death. I'm aware this is being rewritten, but with Bay watching over this project like the devil looks down upon his damned souls, I have little hope this will be improved on. I've read very few scripts, but Ninja Turtles is easily the worst one I've ever read.
Final score: 4 out of 10.
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