Above: Michael Bay. Image by Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
If you thought the last three Michael Bay Transformers films, each a massively horrid pile of putrescence and cinematic bile, hammered the final nail in the coffin that is childhood, think again. In June, Transformers: Age of Extinction, another disturbingly awful-looking flick, is thundering into cinemas. But that’s not all. Bay’s the producer behind the nonsensically silly looking reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and the first trailer does not leave much to be optimistic about. So, we’re in for a summer of Michael Bay tearing apart what’s left of childhood.
For those of you who’ve not had the distinct pleasure of getting your thoughts hammered into putty by a Bay film, the first three Transformers films are so huge and narratively depressing that they warrant at least one gut wrenching viewing. At least to see the extent to which Bay takes all the soul out of the some of the only robots to ever have any (not counting Wall-E). They’re like car commercials, but with worse acting. Seriously, it’s actually impressive how offensively bad these films are (was the second film insanely racist, or is it just me?).
Both the Transformers series, as well as TMNT, were awesomely rad comics and cartoons, made specifically for kids with some semblance of imagination. Both series were silly in a really captivating, fun way, and only translatable to the big screen with that lightheartedness in mind. Michael Bay, though, churned the innocence and fun right out of the Transformers films, and his producer-ship spells the same doom for TMNT.
The trailer for Age of Extinction is ridiculous. Mark Wahlberg replaces Shia Labeouf (that’s a plus, at least?) as some deadbeat dad in Texas who finds a used truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime (something about the Transformers going into hiding or something stupid). There are a whole bunch of American flags in the opening, then lots of explosions, and identical action schlock to the third film (Leonard Nimoy, why??). But wait! The Dinobots, which were childhood favorites to most, finally make an appearance, but as giant monsters, seemingly with none of the charm of the original Dinobots (Grimlock not like this one bit!). At some point, Kelsey Grammer says some evil stuff, and Optimus Prime gets to wield a sword. All in all, this looks to be a steaming heap of ruined childhood memories and weirdly bad acting by Mark Wahlberg (who, in a recent interview, called the Transformers one of the most iconic media franchises ever).
But oh my god, if Age of Extinction looks ridiculous, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seems catastrophic. First off, April O’Neil will be played by Megan Fox (weren’t we all so happy she had stopped working with Bay?), and all four ninja turtles by unknown actors (still with the surf bro voices, of course). William Fichtner, of Crash fame, will be Shredder, and that looks kinda cool because he has the scary face for it. Beyond that one optimistic note (not Megan Fox, you guys), the rest of the trailer paints a picture of a truly terrible film. If I’m correct (and by me, I mean the countless folks who’ve already mused on this trailer all day), the radioactive turtle thing from the original mythology is being replaced by some weird plot in which April’s father and Eric Sachs (the American Shredder) are in on some scheme to make super-beings or some dumb nonsense of that sort (I think they saw the The Amazing Spiderman 2 trailer and thought, “that seems like a rad idea”). Like Age of Extinction, it looks to be another childhood classic turned action film with many explosions and absolutely no heart, something the original TMNT had a lot of (and pizza, can’t forget pizza). Also, the new turtle design is downright creepy.
In a world where simulated violence and overblown action flicks are terrorizing childhood innocence and creativity, and making the need to utilize one’s imagination all but obsolete, it’s simply a shame Michael Bay (with Steven Spielberg, the jerk) has to go about stomping on beloved kid media. Optimus Prime was my hero till Bay gave him some sort of robotic mouth (not badass at all), and Transformers meant a lot to me before CGI and Bay’s stellar writing team mercilessly ripped the heart from it. I am pretty damn certain that the same results await TMNT, due out in August (because god forbid we have to pay for two Bay films in one month), and that’s heartbreaking. I’m not even defending the other live action films made of TMNT, but no iconic childhood story should have to be placed in Michael Bay’s clutches. There are so few fun cartoon stories left, and I hope they remain pure (stay away from DuckTales, Bay, just stay away).