It’s been almost two years since we reported that Michael Bay would be partnering with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon to produce a new live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie through his Platinum Dunes production company and that Iron Man scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway would be writing the screenplay with an eye towards turning the movie into a franchise.
Now comes the news that Jonathan Liebesman, the director of last year’s Battle: Los Angeles and the upcoming Wrath of the Titans, is in talks to direct the reboot.
Liebesman previously directed the gory horror prequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning for Platinum Dunes. Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, Bay’s partners in the production company, will also produce the movie.
The last time the Ninja Turtles graced movie screens was in a 2007 CGI-animated feature. Reportedly the new film will be closer in tone and execution to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles black & white independent comic book series created by Kevin Eastman (currently the owner, editor, publisher of Heavy Metal) and Peter Laird in 1984 rather than the animated television show that obviously influenced the three New Line Cinema live-action features in the early 90s and the CGI-animated movie.
If the producers are going for a darker, grittier approach to Eastman and Laird’s characters reminiscent of the underground comic that started it all then Jonathan Liebesman is a good choice to realize that vision. Based on Battle: Los Angeles (which wasn’t a good movie but still had some solidly-filmed action sequences) and the previews for next month’s Wrath of the Titans Liebesman has proven to be a competent director with an eye for outrageous action scenes. If he gets the job directing this new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles something good could come of this, especially with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol writing team Josh Appelbaum and Andrew Nemec taking over scripting duties last summer.
The question now is, how will the Turtles themselves be realized in 21st century live-action form? Will the filmmakers go back to the man-in-suit approach of the first three movies or use actors in motion-capture suits a la Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Avatar? I’m sensing the latter.