TMNT to Be a Hybrid

September 9, 2008

There's been a cross-current of rumors regarding the reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. First Kevin Eastman spread the rumor that the film was going to be completely live-action, meaning that the turtles would be in-camera effects -- men in turtle suits again. Now The Movie Blog reports that Peter Laird has chastised his former partner (Laird bought out the rights from Eastman) for getting it wrong, and for getting into business that isn't his anymore.

MTV quotes Laird as saying:

As it stands now, there is no intention of doing another live-action film like the first three, with actors and stuntmen in actual Turtle suits, contrary to what was said by Kevin. We have pretty much decided that the next “TMNT” movie should be what we’ve been calling a “hybrid” — that is to say, live-action humans and sets combined with very realistic CGI Turtles (and possibly some other CGI characters).

So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. I have to say, I'm pretty excited by the prospect of a new TMNT film. I thought the first film back in 1990 was a very solid production, and I even feel that it's aged pretty well. Despite the moderate success of the recent animated feature, it simply didn't satisfy my hopes. The humans were rendered in a very cartoony manner and the villain was totally unrealistic -- yes, I know, par for the course in the TMNT world.

But I think I speak for a lot of TMNT fans when I suggest taking the story back to its roots with Splinter and Shredder would be very exciting. The fact that this will be live-action is even more exciting (for those of us who were fans of the first couple films).

Am I glad the turtles will be completely CG? No. I don't know why it has to be one or the other. When the turtles have to do a lot of talking or complex fight choreography, I get CG. But in general I would think having physical turtles in the same space as the actors would increase the realism of the movie, whereas making the characters completely CG  -- which I find rarely holds up for an entire film -- will simply alert the audience's attention to the otherworldliness of the turtles, as opposed to helping them mesh with their phsycial surroundings.

If CG technology improves between now and the post-production for whatever film gets made (and I don't doubt that it will -- perhaps not enough, but it will improve) then who knows, I might just have to put my foot in my mouth. But am I the only person out there who misses the time when creature effects meant pushing the boundaries of make up, costumes, animatronics and puppetry?