Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quick Takes - Ninja Turtles

My feelings exactly, fellas.

Michael Bay has never been a friend to Quick Takes. Nor his own children. Nor the holy Moviefather above, who will send Michael Bay to film Hell upon his death, where he shall be forced to watch hours of his own shitacular movies with his eyes held open like "A Clockwork Orange" while Julia Roberts sprinkles salt onto them with one of those awesome salt-shakers they have for popcorn at the theatre. And yet, despite making some of the worst movies in cinema history (I always read "cinema history" in my head in a British voice ... try it out, you'll never go back), Michael Bay and I have rarely crossed paths. I watched the first "Transformers" movie and decided that any further sequels would be viewed sans me; I still contend that "Armageddon" is, unequivocally, the worst movie ever made; and "Pearl Harbor" sort of hit home because he was raping a part of two countries' histories for his own wallet-padding, but other than that, Michael and Me are not in regular company. Until now.

Mr. Bay has decided to reboot the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As someone who owns the original trilogy (I can't fucking believe I just typed "the original trilogy" when referring to TMNT) and continues to watch Turtles I and II well into my mid-to-late 20s', the idea of Michael Bay, the Jose Canseco of the film industry, taking something so precious to my heart and the collective nerdheart (trademark?) of the TMNT community, the ones who grew up with "Turtles in Time," who played the arcade game at Shakey's Pizza during baseball banquets, who knew every word (and dance move) to Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap," and who fell in love with the butt-chinned April O'Neil in the amazing live-action Turtles film, and turning it into a Hollywood action porn cash cow is almost beyond comprehension. Not only is Michael Bay (he's not directing it, but come on ... we're not children, we know how this whole dog and pony show works) planning to make the Turtles aliens, yes, that's right, aliens, not mutants, as their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles moniker would have you believe, but fucking aliens from another planet (because, as he says, he wants to add a "richer back story"), but he's also dropped the TEENAGE MUTANT from the title of the move altogether! Now it's just the ... NT. "Ninja Turtles." Does that mean a goddamn thing to anyone?! No, of course not. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles describes everything you need to know about what you're getting into, but "Ninja Turtles" just sounds like something the joke-writing manatees pulled out of the pool for a gag on "Family Guy."

So how did Bay respond to the furor from millions of TMNT fans suddenly crying out in terror? "Paramount marketing changed the name. They made the title simple. The characters you all remember are exactly the same, and yes they still act like teenagers. Everything you remember, why you liked the characters, is in the movie. This script is being developed by two very smart writers, with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles. They care VERY MUCH about making this film for the fans. Everyone on this team cares about the fans. Just give them a chance. Jonathan the director, is a major fan of the whole franchise. HE'S NOT GOING TO LET YOU DOWN."

I can't wait to see the turtles transform into their super-robot-alien-biotech megaform and shoot green laser ooze out of their giant ninja belly button while battling mecha-tank Shredder, a sentient tank who broke out of Area 51 and is terrorizing New York City, while Will Smith (who will play Casey Jones, a retired New York Rangers hockey player turned pizza delivery guy who befriended the Adult Alien Ninja Turtles as a boy on the Air Force base in Roswell, New Mexico, where the AANT crash-landed years ago, only to find them in NYC living in a penthouse with Ceelo years later while delivering an astounding 45 pizzas to their location) performs a remixed "Ninja Rap" inside the cabin of a 2013 Saturn Vue during the final battle and creates a musical knockout wave that temporarily shuts down mecha-tank Shredder, allowing the turtles to belly-button ooze him to metallic smithereens and save New York City.

  • You know how I know I'm getting old? The Arizona Diamondbacks will be wearing throwback uniforms this year.
  • A fourth division German football club, Magdeburg, has been in a bit of a scoring rut lately, going five straight matches without a goal. That type of impotency would bring most fanbases to their knees, but not in Germany! Magdeburg's resolute (and hilarious) fans held up large arrows throughout the match to point their team toward the goal, even assembling behind the goal in a larger arrow formation to form a sort of Power Rangers' super arrow. Magdeburg scored, but lost 2-1. Womp wah.
  • I'm still waiting for Tim Tebow to start throwing right handed.
  • Amare Stoudemire is out indefinitely with a back injury, according to a press release by the New York Knicks. That's not particularly funny (unless you find humor in bulging discs, which is very hard not to find humor in), but the fact that the Knicks spelled his name wrong in their own press release is.
  • The New England Patriots have signed reserve quarterback Chris Simms (son of Phil Simms, son of Gloin ...) to an "undisclosed coaching role" with the team, ending the young Simms' quarterbacking career and starting a new one: Bill Belichick's hoodie fluffer.
  • For those of you worried about the Mariners' two exhibition losses to Japanese teams in Tokyo this weekend: Relax. The Mariners just traveled halfway across the globe, were assuredly jetlagged and physically exhausted, and faced two Japanese teams at home with absolutely no scouting reports for either team (yes, yes, the Japanese teams probably didn't have scouting reports on the Mariners either, just ... go to your corner and let me finish). Hector Noesi, the Mariners pitcher acquired via Michael Pineda earlier this year, was 4 years old when legendary Japanese slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto was drafted, and the two squared away against each other in a game of immense significance and pride to the Hanshin Tigers. Methinks the Hanshin Tigers had a bit more experience than the young Seattle Mariners, who were not only playing in a country 95% of them have never been in before, but also experiencing and soaking in a new culture. This is one of those "once in a lifetime trips," so forgive the Mariners players if they got caught up in the sights and sounds of the Tokyo Dome and didn't win meaningless exhibition games. Just relax everyone. Exhibition games don't count. I promise. Even Bud Selig knows that.
  • The real takeaway that I have from those two games is a lot bigger picture than, "Oh my god, we can't hit! We're already the worst team in baseball before the season starts!" We knew the Japanese players could play based on their dominance at the World Baseball Classic in recent years, but Major League Baseball has always played down their success, and, really, the success of every country in baseball other than the United States, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, because baseball has always been an exclusive club for Major League players only. The best players in the world flock to America to play, and there are a million (dollars) reasons why, but the future that I see, that I want, that baseball needs, is inclusive. Imagine this: Shorten the baseball season by 30 or so games, but add in a "Champions League" style tournament throughout the season, where the best teams from all of the qualifying leagues throughout the world play each other -- a la UEFA's Champions League tournament -- in a yearly "best team in baseball" competition. There is nothing more prestigious in international football than the Champions League, and it's prestigious because the best teams in the world (well, in Europe, but in football those are synonymous) are competing against each other in a knockout tournament. It's like a centrifuge of football, and it makes every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the football season unfathomably exciting. There's nothing like it in any of our American sports, probably because we can't handle not being the best at things ("What's that? Our soccer team didn't make the Olympics? Whatever, we don't even like soccer!"), but trimming back the domestic season and mixing in a knockout competition throughout the year against the best teams in the world would be the best thing to happen to baseball ever. Yes. Ever.
  • The best part of the NCAA Tournament has to be Anthony Davis' unibrow, right?
  • The NBA, always one for racial harmony (see: NBA dress code, Allen Iverson, etc.), has released a series of bizarre T-shirts, featuring popular NBA players with their heads spliced next to the heads of their teams' mascots (the grammar, my god, the grammar). There are some innocuous ones, like LeBron James's half head/half Miami Heat fire-basketball, but there are also some pretty ignorant/insensitive ones, with players like Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks) and Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) spliced next to the heads of animals. Just what every athlete wants: To be compared to a rabid, snorting animal. Did Donald Sterling come up with this T-shirt promotion?