How many times have we heard, “(insert movie maker name here), you’ve ruined my childhood!”? Quite a lot, especially this year, with the release of Transformers 4, and the pending release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How many times is it justified, in my opinion? Not much. Gotcha didn’t I? You’re wondering, “Oh, I was about to read another article that agrees with how Hollywood is stomping all over my candy-coated memories of how awesome these pop-culture icons of the past were.” Nope. I’m here to tell you, give it up already, the shows, cartoons, and movies we remember as kids weren’t always that good. Especially the Saturday morning cartoons designed to sell us action figures. That’s not to say I didn’t like them, or that I have bitter memories of those shows, I’m just realistic. Many of those shows were awesome when we were kids, we loved them, and consumed them and their toy commercials like candy. Now, though, looking back at them with fully formed brains capable of logical, and critical thought, they really aren’t that good.
Take the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon for example. I loved that show when I was a kid, even before I was a roleplayer. It filled all of the criteria of what a kid dreams of. Traveling to a different world where you can be a hero, fight monsters and dragons, use magic, and all the things we did in our back yards with sticks and imagination. Recently I got a hold of the rerelease of the show on DVD and watched it. Ya…it’s not that good. I’m a fanboy, and even my inner fanboy was looking for the remote not long into the first episode. So, you can cry foul all you want, throw names out, make videos, swear to boycott, but in the end your memories of these awesome childhood shows are the things that are really good. Not the shows themselves.
Let’s take one of the big ones, whose 4th installment just released to major success in the box office. Transformers 4. I saw it, I liked it though I think it could have been just a bit shorter, and I think the negative reaction of people who haven’t even seen it is unwarranted. Why don’t we boil it down to the bone? Transformers is the story of a species of sentient robots whocan change into everyday vehicles, and come to earth and battle their arch-enemies over a fictitious energy source called…energon. That’s right folks, before the awful Avatar movie gave us hadtofindium…I mean unobtanium, we had energon. That’s it boys and girls! People are foaming at the mouth, crying foul, and giving Michael Bay crap over source material that is so convoluted it’s not even remotely funny. We’re not talking, even close to, award winning foundation material here. That’s not to say I don’t like Transformers. I loved the show when I was a kid, went to the theater to see Transformers the Movie, and I enjoyed most of the modern movies.
So what did Michael Bay give us? Well first he gave us Peter Cullen, THE firking Optimus Prime. You can’t tell me the first time you heard his voice you didn’t get chills! What else did he give us? Giant transforming robots fighting each other on Earth, over a fictitious energy source (or some variation thereof). What more do you people want?! Don’t tell me you wanted something exactly like the cartoon, because Hollywood has tried that too and you didn’t like that either. We got, exactly what we really wanted. An updated version, in all it’s amazing FX glory, with a story-line and a format that adults can tolerate to sit through, and kids would be blown away by. If you expected more, it’s certainly not Bay’s fault.
Speaking of exactly like the cartoon, or at least closer to the corny, cartoon feel, we got to G.I. Joe movies that were about as close to the old cartoon you could get without just recycling the cartoon itself. I thought they were great, stupid fun. A lot of people didn’t agree, again, because of expectations I think. But it does show, that even when the movie is close to the cartoon in feel, style, and awfulness, we still don’t like it (or most people don’t.) It’s not like we were going to get a modern military thriller with a G.I. Joe story and characters, comeon! It’s a group of heroes called G.I. Joe for frak’s sake, fighting a terrorist organization led by a guy with a napkin on his head, and another who decided a chrome noggin might look cool.
Finally, there’s TMNT. I’ve been watching the hype, and the drama-queen blather since the announcement of this movie. I remember the first big announcement, the turtles are going to have some sort of alien origin link, the internet lit up like Frakenvader finding out his girlfriend was dead. Not once did one of the crying fanboys stop and consider, maybe the mutant fluid that turns them into humanoid turtle ninjas (yah, we’re drawing the line at alien origin in this whole equation) might have been the thing that was alien, not the turtles themselves. So now we’re getting closer to, and the trailers look good, the story looks like it might be interesting. Of course we have a vapid damsel for the turtles to fawn over, they are teenagers afterall, and who better to play vapid right? She can scream, she can run, and she can look scared and defiant at the same time. Requisite stats met to play April O’Neil.
What’s the big fuss now though? Nostrils. Yup, that’s right, people who love teenage humanoid turtle ninja’s trained by a rat to fight a bad guy named Shredder and his goons called…the hand, are up in arms because the newest incarnation has…NOSTRILS! OH MY GODS! Where will the insanity end? Is that really the straw that’s breaking this tortoise’s back?! They claim it’s because none of the other incarnations of turtles had nostrils, and while I conceded that none of the more popular incarnations did, there is plenty of art, and material out there to refute that. Let’s give it to the fanboys though, they are at least pointing to the original source, Eastman and Laird.
So Eastman and Laird…ah wait. This is Michael Zulli’s comic…with nostrils. How dare I find a published reference to the turtles with nostrils! Anyway, just take my word for it, Eastman and Laird didn’t draw their early ninjas with nostrils. Why? You’d have to ask them. Maybe they didn’t want to put that much detail into it. Maybe the nostrils didn’t work. Who knows? Either way, does it really matter? People are getting worked up over the silliest things honestly, and if you ask me, this looks like it will be a much better movie than some guys in foam suits, fighting other guys in foam suits, while dancing to the musical genius, *kof*, of Vanilla Ice.
And in all seriousness, who in their right mind would think that if a turtle was mutated to stand on two feet, develop opposable thumbs, the ability to talk, and reason would also develop something as ludicrous as nostrils? That’s just insane to think…oh wait. Turtles have nostrils? You mean this whole time I’ve been basing my knowledge of turtle anatomy off the drawings of Eastman and Laird!? I’m out!