Ok, so in light of all the remake’s and reboots flourishing out of Hollywood right now, I think that the only way to go from here is to continue onward, with yet another of my childhood favourites. I’m talking about the TMNT-franchise ofcourse. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a childhood favourite among so many of us, with the cartoons, toys, the comics and OFCOURSE… The movies! I have decided to divide the franchise into 5 parts, where in the first 4 I’ll be talking about the first live-action movie from 1990, go through the two sequels and on to the animated movie from 2007 and in the fifth and last segment, I will be goind head-on with the talks of the reboot by Michael Bay (Transformers).
So, the storyline is pretty simple. A recent wave of organised crime has struck New York City when the reporter April O’Neil finds traces that point to an ancient clan of ninjas called The Foot, headed ofcourse by the mysterious Shredder. So far, it’s pretty basic straight-lined of the cartoon from 1987 right? Then they go on with April being attacked by some hoodlums when she’s walking to her car, and wouldn’t you know it.. just like in the cartoon, she is saved by the heros of the story, The Turtles! Pretty basic stuff, she’s taken to see Splinter, who then tells the story of how they came to be, how he teached them martial arts and all that, jsut like in the cartoon. I love it… following the mythology is key to something as huge as this. But one mayor thing that differs the movie’s backstory from the cartoon’s, is that Splinter has always been a rat, the pet of Hamato Yoshi, where in the cartoon, he WAS Hamato Yoshi and then mutated into his rat-form. I’m actually not sure of how the real backstory from the comics goes, but I’m quite certain that the movie-version is more true to it.
Eventually, all hell breaks loose, when the Shredder kidnaps Splinter and the Turtles are attacked and overrun by the Foot, who in this case are actuall ninjas, people in masks, not robots like in the cartoon. And that, my friends, is something I as a kid was totally psyched about. This was the part that made me actually realize that; Hey, this isn’t a cartoon, this is frikkin’ real… Awesome!!!
In the midst of the intense battle between the Foot and the Turtles, one of Raph’s “aquaintances” from earlier on in the film, pops in, looking all badass with his hockey-mask and his golfbag full of hockeysticks, cricketbats and various sporting-goods. You guessed it, I’m talking about the former pro gone vigilante himself, Casey Jones! He joins up with the Turtles, kicks some serious Foot-butt and help in their escape out of the now burning inferno of what used to be an antiques-store, and they drive off in a busted-up minivan.
But enough of that, I think it’s time we talked about the characters and actors for a while, don’t you agree?
Let’s start up with Casey Jones, the Sports-fan!!
Casey Jones was not as big a character as April, Shredder or any of the Turtles in the cartoon, but he was always one of my favourites. The badass Jason Voorhees-look with the hockeymask and the deep gritty voice and his insane behavior, spewing his taglines everywhere (“All lawbreakers must pay the price, I hate lawbreakers etc.). I thought he was a riot, even in the swedish version. So when Casey first showed up in the movie, I was stoked, to say the least. My eyes popped out of my skull and I clenched my fists together as I watched the REAL CASEY JONES kick ass, dropping sports-terms as he goes along. An historical movie-moment of my life, I can tell you that much! Now, when I’m older and have pretty much grown my knowledge of actors and movies to somewhat ridiculous levels, I think that Elias Koteas was at the time the perfect choice. Now, if they were to use this character in the remake, I have to say that Sam Worthington is the most worthy of actors to do him justice, given his voice and that insane look he has in his eyes when things get intense.
The Shredder, real name Oroku Saki, originally voiced by James Avery (best know for uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince), and played by James Saito in the movie. This character is the epitome of a bad-guy. In the cartoon, he’s portrayed as a jealous man with a grudge against the world and with the aid of an extraterrestrial named Krang (not in the movie, THANK GOD), he’s plotting to take over the world, using alien technology. I never really saw the evil in him, since everything he did failed miserably every time, and at times I thought he was so corny, dropping clichés everywhere he went. But in the movie… let’s just say that the Shredder was vindicated! James Saito was perfect for this dark, menacing version of the character, ensuing terror on everyone and everything he layed eyes on. It was just beautiful to watch, when the Turtles finds themselves face-2-face with the one their master had told them about so many years ago. And the eys, so dark and angry.. just perfect!! For this part in the remake, I can only see one actor personify the Shredder correctly, and that is Tsuyoshi Ihara, who played Masazuka in the movie Ninja.
Splinter, the father, the classic mentor of every story ever written. This is a character that shows his face in almost every story where the hero starts out as an underdog. He is the one that holds all the wisdom and teachings that the hero needs to fulfill his destiny. But, in this case funny enough, he’s a rat. As I mentioned earlier on, I’m unsure of wich mythology is the correct one and frankly, I don’t have to energy to google it at the moment. In the cartoon, we get the explanation that he was once a proud man called Hamato Yoshi, who when coming into contact with the ooze (mutagen, slime, whatever you wanna call it), transformed into his rat-like state, where in the movie he was the pet of aforementioned Hamato Yoshi. Other than that, the character is the same. In the cartoon he was voiced by Peter Renaday and in the movie, the character was taken to new heights by Kevin Clash (best known as Elmo of the Muppets). I’ve heard rumours swirling on the web, that they may not be using this character in the remake, claiming that he’s past away of old age, but if they choose to use him anyway (wich I hope they do), there is only one person who can make him justice, the Crouching Tiger himself, Chow Yun Fat.
The Turtles, the protagonists of the story. Four turtles, mutated by aforementioned ooze, into pure awesomeness. Punch-lining, slang-dropping, ass-kicking, pizza-eating awesomeness! The four brothers, all named after the worlds biggest renaissance-artists.
Michaelangelo (originally voiced by Townsend Coleman and Robbi Rist in the movie); The party-dude with the lame jokes, porly executed impersonations and the weirdest tastes in pizza-toppings. With a pair of nunchaku, a childish mentality and a humouristic manor, he delivers his ass-kicking with a smile. The only thing that really differs the movie-version from the cartoon-version is that in the cartoon, he only uses the nunchaku for a few seasons. Instead, he wields a grappling-hook and, in some cases a tonfa.
Donatello (originally voiced by Barry Gordon and Corey Feldman in the movie); Where the rest of them drop some clichéd lines like “Radical” or “Wikked”, Donatello gives us “Bozzanova” or “Eclectic”. This was always one thing I never really understood as a kid, but now I see it clear as day. He’s a nerd. The only thing that’s missing is a buttoned-up shirt and glasses. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an awesome ass-kicker. With his Bō staff, he takes the bad guys down one by one without hassle. One thing I missed in the movie was the fact that, in the cartoon, he was always building and inventing stuff, like the Turtle-glider or the sewer-surfer, but you don’t see him doodle with anything like that until later on in the franchise.
Leonardo (originally voiced by Cam Clarke and Brian Tochi in the movie); The Katana-wielding with a big sense of responsability. In the cartoon, we were treated pretty instantly with the fact that he’s the leader of the group, where in the movie he himself denies it. The scene where Splinter’s been kidnapped and Leo tries to explain that they need April to find him, since she’s their only link to the Foot and that they have to wait, Raph, who’se tired of waiting, gnarly replies; “Oooh, so that’s the plan from our fearless leader huh? Just sit here on our butts?”. Leonardo then replies; “I never said I was your great leader.” wich seems to me like a huge hole in the mythology. But, he sometimes act like the responsible big brother, so it works in the long run.
Finally, the fourth and final turtle, Raphael (originally voiced byRob Paulsen and Josh Pais in the movie), the crude one with an attitude-problem. The movie starts out with the Turtles saving April from the hoodlums and in the midst of battle, Raph looses one of his Sai’s. The loss of his weapon turns him into a sourpuss, cranky and ill-tempered, walking around muttering stuff at other stuff. In the cartoon, they have toned this attitude down a great deal (my guess it’s for the kids), but it takes away a huge part of who Raph really is. Overall, he’s a great character and after his early faceoff with Casey Jones, he runs down the street screaming “Damn” (wich apparently is a huge swearword in the states, I don’t see what the fuzz is about), and that was pretty cool. He also shows great dissatisfaction at the movie Critters, wich shows us even more how gritty his personality really is.
I don’t really have any specific casting-ideas for the Turtles at this time, so all I can say on that really, is that I hope that they use the four original movie-voices in the remake aswell. They did an amazing job and it’s going to be really hard to match it.
It’s getting to be the time to round this thing up, but I would just like to finish of by telling you that; No, I didn’t forget April O’Neil, I decisively chose to exclude her from this. The reason? She is a boring and annoying character in the cartoon and even more so in this movie. Since she’ll be having a bigger part later on, I have to write something about her, but that’s then and this is now… So as a conclusion.
Peace out hombrés!