Well it has finally arrived: the first visual proof that the best BAD film of next year will undoubtedly be Michael Bay’s over-serious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Somehow embodying the gritty clout (and supporting actor) of The Dark Knight, throwing in some Inception-esque ice-capades, and ending with a joke that miraculously gives hope for the portrayal of Mikey – this first trailer proves something I am loathe to admit: I LOVE Michael Bay’s marketing team. Check out the trailer and then come back for the review after the jump.
Time and experience have taught me not to touch a hot stove, not to pick fights I cannot win, and not to EVER see a film Michael Bay’s hands have touched. As much as I enjoy his very early work (namely Armageddon and Pearl Harbor), it didn’t take long to figure out that he was smoke and very large flash with little substance.
And yet every single time one of his movies is coming out (and yes, I know he didn’t direct this film), I find myself wrapped up in an swirl of trailers and printed material which somehow manages to draw me in while touting the Bay influence. I was burned by the offensively bad second Transformers film, but come time for the first Dark of the Moon teaser and I found myself justifying and hoping for a change. Of course I was let down by the film itself, but the trailers did get me into a theater seat. And to be honest, Age of Extinction is doing the same thing (though with a much larger grain of bitter salt warning me).
But when I started to hear about this latest endeavor by Producer Bay, it wasn’t his involvement that invoked the most incredulity. That came from the idea that anyone wanted to do a live-action reboot of the TMNT. And yet watching this trailer gets me excited to see the film. I still expect the central premise to be completely bonkers and most of the plot to be ridiculous and superfluous, but this trailer makes me want to sit through it anyway.
Interestingly, the three aforementioned films all employed a multitude of trailer houses, not united under a single marketing head as I initially expected. Ignition Creative and Industry Creative created the incredible teaser for Dark of the Moon; AntFarm made the one for Age of Extinction, and – if they weren’t such humble people – the credit for this interesting trailer could be given to some excellent, currently anonymous Trailer House. Though I cannot say this was the focused effort of a single marketing conglom, and I do not have time to give each creator credit for their part in the work, let me briefly say what works about each of these first teasers.
Dark of the Moon‘s first glance left me thinking that Bay had turned from his super-“hip”, sexist, and racist appeal to what middle school boys think is cool, and decided to make a more heady film with much higher stakes than whether LaBeouf would get with Megan Fox. Cleverly disguising itself as an alternate history, found footage movie (a la Apollo 18 of the same year), this piece perfectly follows the rules of a teaser: drawing me in, presenting something intriguing, and only just paying off what’s actually going on before pulling a title screen over it and letting you wait months for the next tidbit.
Age of Extinction on the other hand, takes a different approach (if nothing else, you’ve got to give credit to Bay for having an amazing sense for Subtitles). Though they commit the mortal sin of trailer making – telling me the whole story in its 2.5 minute timespan – and though the aesthetic of the film seems to not have progressed much in the three year gap, what sold me on this film is that Bay seems to have simultaneously found his roots and jumped the shark….TRex? On the one hand, the trailer paints an excellent portrait of NOT SHIA LaBEOUF!!!! Marky-Mark and his not-Megan-Fox daughter seem to be a very relatable, human pair of protagoni – unlike the college dropout and eye candy of the previous trilogy. Meanwhile, we have DINOBOTS!!!!!! I still expect a very poor narrative in the film, but this trailer makes me seriously consider breaking my moratorium on seeing a Bay film. Because Dinobots…..
And finally, this trailer. Despite the aforementioned Batman and Inception elements rampant throughout the teaser (which almost certainly point to another poorly constructed attempt to make a hero dark and gritty), what interests me about this trailer is that it looks so unbearably fun. I know that much of the ridiculous humor that made the show great will be excised and that at its core it will be a very stupid movie which will likely give a strong showing at next year’s Razzies, but all of the characters just seem to be in their element. Mikey is funny, Leo is serious; we see Donnie using tactics and Raph doing something brash. Even William Fichtner seems to be having a sinisterly fun time as Shredder (yet to be seen if he goes the way of Jeremy Irons in D&D or not). It looks like a fun romp that will no doubt reach for its roots in bringing some parody back to superhero stories. I expect nothing less than a humorous ride from this upcoming flick.
If nothing else is said, it must be this: the marketing teams and trailer houses who work on these projects do such a good job, they make me temporarily forget the bile produced by Bay in the past and remind me that cinema can be a purely entertaining experience. I spend so much time watching cerebral movies that sometimes I forget that good, dumb fun can be helpful for the soul every once in a while. Just when I want to walk away and never let Bay disappoint me again, his trailers come along and subconsciously invoke that inner part of me that really needs a bad movie to keep things in perspective. Without these teasers, I would forget how to connect with my fellow cinematic buff, and thus I owe a sort of debt to the unnamed Production Company that made this incredibly enjoyable thing.
And that, dear readers, is the Art of the Trailer! Thanks for reading!