See It Instead: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Sometimes a movie comes along and makes you aware of an itch you never knew you had. Perhaps a review piqued your interest, or you’d rather stay in and pay yourself $10 for a small popcorn and watch a movie on the cheap. Perhaps you’re valiantly struggling through your queue on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and need a wise, cultured voice to direct you to where the real movie viewing gold is hiding amidst the resurrected TV series and serial killer biopics. Well, look no further. See It Instead is here to take today’s new releases and guide you to what you should really be watching.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
You know what this movie is about, so I’m not going to insult your intelligence more than Michael Bay has by green-lighting this turd. I will however regale you with my theory about why Michael Bay seems to be behind every awful remake of 90’s toy franchises:
Everyone knows of the kid in their class who never gets to be a part of the culture. Overprotective parents, weird cult-ish rules at home, lack of money, severe personality disorder. You know the drill. Your parents feel bad for this poor kid, and like all of their guilt issues, they’re going to make it your problem by inviting that child over to your birthday party. The problem is, this is the worst time to get to know this shut-in, since you’re about to be up to your armpits in toys that will literally break his mind. He doesn’t have one clue who the Shredder is, he’s never shouted “Yo Joe!” in the heat of battle against faceless Cobra underlings who can’t shoot straight, and to him “You sank my Battleship!” is just what his grandfather yells over and over in his sleep. He has no cultural yard-stick to make sense of this stuff. So he assumes that the Shredder is surrounded by robots…he must BE a robot! There are a million Transformers, but only one human in the whole show…the show must BE about the nerdy human instead of the robots! Battleship is one of the least fun games of all time…a movie about Battleship must BE the least entertaining movie of all time! (OK, he got that one right…blind squirrels still find acorns now and again.)
Long story short: Michael Bay IS that kid. He has no context whatsoever about what made these properties fun. Stuffed into a burlap sack every day after school and forced to watch regular kids through an antique pair of binoculars between primal screaming sessions, he’s managed to piece together enough of the toys to know how to imitate them, but he hasn’t got any feel for how to love them, or to have fun with them. And now, all these years later, he’s in control, and goddammit HE’S telling the story now! You’ll be as confused, angry, and sad as he was. And that children, is why we cannot have nice things.
…Oh, yeah…movie talk…See These Instead!
The Serious Pick: The Goonies (1985)
The timeless tale of four young heroes who have adventures underground, led by the teachings of a wiser older figure, as they search for a notorious criminal while being pursued by an evil organization. When you put it that way, Richard Donner’s adventure film is practically a one-to-one blueprint for making a TMNT movie that people might want to see! You have Mikey as the passionate leader of the group, the sarcastic anti-hero Mouth, a tech-savy introvert named Data, and…um…Chunk probably likes pizza alot, I guess? I think they cut the scene where he swings two Baby Ruth bars around like nunchakus. The boys follow the guidance of treasure hunter Chester Copperpot’s journal as they track down the final resting place of famed pirate “One-Eyed” Willie, deep underneath the streets of their peaceful Oregon home town, in order to use his stash of gold to prevent a real-estate developer from destroying their neighborhood. I guess that makes the pirate ship the Technodrome. Ma Fratelli must be Krang. I’m telling you, on paper this all works out.
Ninja Turtle analogies aside, this film from the mind of Steven Spielberg has delighted audiences for a generation with its memorable characters, thrilling adventures, devious puzzles and traps, and simple message of camaraderie and hope in the face of adolescence’s unspeakable terrors. You may never have needed a missing cache of pirate’s gold to solve the uncertainty of growing up, but you most likely needed friends you could count on through thick and thin. You may also have needed Data’s slick-shoes, because those were awesome. Just saying.
Give The Goonies a call if you want a fun summer adventure that will make you feel good about yourself for having watched it. Hell, at the very least Sloth is a hell of a lot prettier to look at than this summer’s hideous interpretation of American’s favorite reptilian crime-fighters.
The Unconventional Pick: The Fly (1986)
If you were a fan of the Turtles cartoons or comics, you are probably familiar with Baxter Stockman, the mad scientist who becomes a mutated Fly-man and chases the turtles with his monstrous inventions (or if you remember the video games, he was invariably one of the first bosses you fought, since four ninja’s versus a geeky fly equaled SPLAT.) Well, poor Baxter was just a weak pretender to the title of creepiest bug scientist and I’m going to recommend you watch the reigning champion: Jeff Goldblum’s hideously mutated Brundle-Fly in the scream and vomit inducing terror masterpiece, The Fly.
Brilliant scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) has created a set of telepods that can teleport inorganic material from one pod to another, but every time he tries a live test subject…things get messy. A journalist (Geena Davis) is covering his research, and the two become romantically involved. A chance comment by Davis gives Seth the direction he needs to improve his machine. The next live test is a success, and filled with hubris (and champagne) Seth decides to give the machine a whirl himself. Unfortunately, a common housefly hitches a ride, and Seth exits the machine with super fly powers (but not actually the powers of Super Fly). As Seth becomes increasingly maniacal and unstable, using his new powers in nasty ways, we begin to see Goldblum slowly shift from man-fly to fly-man, with horrific results.
While a riveting horror story with great practical effects, The Fly operates very subtly as a commentary on women’s empowerment and reproductive rights. When Davis realizes she may be carrying the mutated Brundle’s baby, she faces every obstacle towards aborting the potentially monstrous child…including a psychotic Brundle desperate to create the ultimate family. The outright horror of the situation mirrors the terrifying implications of the pregnancy, and gives another frightful layer of tension to the drama.
The Lighthearted Pick: Literally Any Other Movie
Guess what? This hideous rehash of a Michael Bay cash-in entitles you to one free movie, on the house! We all have a list of horrible movies that we feel guilty about wanting to see. Why not fire one of those bad boys up?
Plan 9 from Outer Space? Regarded as one of the worst films of all time…but still probably better than TMNT!
How about the largest money-losing film of all time, Cut Throat Island? I’m sure the studio that hemorrhaged all that cash would really appreciate the 2 dollar rental fee.
Remember when I told you how terrible and fun The Toxic Avenger was? It features a mutated freak who fights crime, so you can still feel good about yourself when your friends tell you how much they hated the new Ninja Turtles movie.
The world is full of movies so awful they are good. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not going to be one of those films. So do yourself a favor, give Michael Bay the finger and go watch something else instead. Hell, remember the classic Turtle’s films from the 90’s? The ones with Vanilla Ice and some really dicey time travel elements? Sure you don’t. But why not go pick one up, and See It Instead!