The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen and a whole lot of people bought tickets to see the reboot. Over the weekend, Jonathan Liebesman's movie earned $65 million and it looks like studio is very pleased with this figure because they're now moving ahead with a sequel. According to Entertainment Weekly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' sequel is set for 2016 and producer Michael Bay and screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec will return. Most critics bashed the movie and our review was pretty mixed, but it's a franchise we're passionate about and we can't help but think about the heroes in a half shell's cinematic future. So, here's what we'd love to see in 2016's sequel! Yes, this will include some spoilers from the new movie!
A more compelling story
It's totally understandable that this rebooted franchise wants to appeal to younger viewers and create a whole new generation of fans. It looks like it worked, too. When the screening ended, little kids were cheering, pretending to do martial arts with their friends, and some were passionately singing the "Shell Shocked" chorus with no shame whatsoever. They're the ones that'll mostly drive merchandise sales (thanks to their parents, of course) and, at the end of the day, that's obviously very important. Sure, the movie took steps to appeal to older fans (major credit for bringing cowabunga back), but only a handful of peers thought the movie was radical and pretty much everyone else has mixed feelings or disliked it. A big reason for many of the negative opinions tends to be one very important thing: the plot. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did a great job handling the heroes in a half shell's personalities and had a good dose of fun action and amusing banter between the Ninja Turtles, but the narrative, heart and emotion was seriously lacking. They need to focus on having more bits like the elevator one -- something that really shows their age and enthusiasm. Aside from the flashback, we never really had a chance to see these brothers enjoying some downtime and connecting. It's moments like the elevator one which make us laugh and fall in love with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's team just a little more, so hopefully they'll come up with new ways to make us appreciate the heroes' spirit next time around.
Despite the PG-13 rating, it's clear they want to focus on creating a whole new generation of big TMNT fans, but that doesn't mean the story can't be engaging. Just look at movies like How to Train Your Dragon, The Incredibles, Wreck-It Ralph or The LEGO Movie. Sure, they're all animated examples, but all of these projects are kid friendly yet older moviegoers can walk out of the theater and still say, "Wow, that was really good!" Appealing to a younger demographic doesn't mean the narrative can't be engrossing, gripping and legitimately emotional. The Ninja Turtles have always placed a strong focus on the importance of family and we all know that has plenty of potential for compelling material. Now, we obviously don't expect the sequel to have a mind-blowingly good storyline, but we're hoping it'll feel more inspired instead of being all kinds of familiar and blatantly take notes from other experiences. Shredder's plot was generic, had quite a few holes, and the dialogue with the humans was lacking. It's important to give these characters just as much personality as the heroes and that brings us to the second point.
Expand the mythos & give the villains more depth
The Ninja Turtles have encountered all kinds of ninjas, mutants and even immortal monsters in their four cinematic adventures, but we've yet to see one of their most iconic villains: Krang. If we can have a mutated rat learning ninjutsu from a book, it's safe to say we can have a diabolical alien from another dimension. The big screen debut of the Utroms is long overdue and it was even implied in the movie that the ooze is from outer space. Seeing as the aliens play a big role in the Nick show and the movie is taking some notes from it (the illustrated intro totally felt like their way of giving young TV show fans an easy transition), it shouldn't be too hard to establish a somewhat familiar plot that'll help younger viewers follow along. We don't need to go full-blown sci-fi with the sequel, but establishing the basics of the Utroms and why they're a thereat would be a welcome change of pace for the movie. We know the ooze came from T.C.R.I., so now it's time to show us the
people aliens behind the company! Luckily, we know this is an idea that Liebesman wants to move forward with and the director seemed totally enthusiastic about Dimension X in interviews.
If Oroku Saki returns -- which seems more than likely -- it would be great to see the man show more depth instead of just always being used for badass fights and spewing threats that belong in the original cartoon. Yes, he's the big bad, but he can have a humanizing moment or two as well. And, assuming Karai isn't dead (her fate seems like it's up in the air after that vicious crash), she deserves to be given more focus instead of just screaming orders and then getting knocked out. She felt like a throwaway character and she has so much more potential than that. If Oroku Saki aligns with the aliens, have her voice her opinions on the matter instead of just standing there and taking orders. Let us know what she means to Shredder and how they're related, if at all. We know the movie doesn't want to juggle too many narratives, but many movies have proven they can flesh out side characters without ever having them steal the show or harm the pacing.
Let the Ninja Turtles lead the way
April O'Neil's an important part of the TMNT mythos and having her discover the Turtles is a key event in the earlier parts of many incarnations, but when people pay for a ticket to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it's because they want to see, well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Splinter's students did receive a good amount of time, but April soaked up a lot of time and a moderate amount of it was just for exposition. Look, April should obviously play a big role in the sequel, and if she does, it should focus on two things: earning respect as a reporter (something which never happened here) and bonding with the Turtles -- you know, beyond Michelangelo just hitting on her. After what she's been through with the Foot, she should have one hell of a story about Eric's company and Shredder, right? She could totally redeem herself (without giving away the TMNT) and this second movie could quickly recap her upward mobility and finally show her as a respected reporter with Channel 6. They showed she can be brave, but they never rewarded her abilities as a journalist.
Still, her arc shouldn't be the focus of the story. The Turtles should be the ones receiving the most time on the screen and we should be learning more about their character dynamics and relationship with their father, Master Splinter. Liebesman's first TMNT movie does a good job developing Raphael and teases his dynamic with Leonardo, but with everyone else, we just saw their most well-known personality traits on display and there was nothing beyond that. It's important to give someone else the kind of attention Raph received and show us there's more to Mikey than jokes, more to Donnie than tech, and more to Leonado than wanting to lead. And, if it's not asking too much, a little more of an emphasis on their stealth and hand-to-hand skills would be bodacious.
Bring on the goongala and fan favorites
Producer Andrew Form has stated they'd love to use Casey Jones and Bebop and Rocksteady if they're allowed to make a sequel. Well, they now have that opportunity and it's time to deliver! Given the amount of product placement in the movie, it wouldn't be shocking if Casey Jones feels like a walking advertising for various sports products (zoom in on Casey's Nike shoes as he chases down a member of the Foot!), but in the end, all that matters is if they get the characters right. Based on this first movie, it looks like they have a proper handle on the personalities of the heroes. They know the hockey mask wearing vigilante is someone many fans are passionate about, so it's clear they'll attempt to bring their A game if they do indeed bring the dude front and center.
As for Bebop and Rocksteady, people want something very simple from those two: a whole lot of crazy and silly fun. Give us a thrilling action sequence with this duo and odds are we'll be pleased. That said, a common complaint about this movie is how crowded the designs are. With the two mutant thugs, we really hope the designs embrace the classic looks without adding too much on top of it. It's important to remember these goons are formidable but also goofy and somewhat lovable, so they need to strike a balance between looking intimidating and having an appearance that wouldn't make younglings scream for their parents. Really focusing on the dated attire could help with that.
What do YOU want to see in the upcoming sequel? Get your elaboration on in the comments, TMNT fans!