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re­boot­ing a beloved fran­chise is a dif­fi­cult bal­anc­ing act. Fans want the prop­erty they love, done dif­fer­ently enough to jus­tify the new ver­sion’s ex­is­tence. But stray too far from that source ma­te­rial, and you’ll quickly en­counter in­ter­net rage – as Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles pro­ducer Michael Bay dis­cov­ered when he briefly con­sid­ered turn­ing the Tur­tles from mu­tants to aliens on the first film. Back then, he was work­ing with di­rec­tor Jonathan Liebesman.

Now, Bay’s teamed with new hope Dave Green, to de­liver Out Of The Shad­ows, a se­quel that looks like the most faith­ful Tur­tles film yet.

If 2014’s TMNT was April O’Neil’s story, Out Of The Shad­ows will be from the epony­mous rep­tiles’ per­spec­tive. “We get to see the Tur­tles in a much deeper way,” Green ex­plains. “We’re telling a new chap­ter in their lives. This movie gets to spend more time with those brothers, ex­plor­ing the dy­namic be­tween them. We get to spend time with those peo­ple we know and love from the first movie, from our child­hood, from the car­toons.”

Telling the story from the Tur­tles’ view­point not only takes the nar­ra­tive closer to the car­toon and comics, it also al­lows Green to dig deeper into what makes them in­di­vid­u­als. “It was im­por­tant to touch on the things we saw in the first movie, the broad strokes of their per­son­al­i­ties, but at the same time we needed to fig­ure out what’s un­der the sur­face,” Green says. “We don’t just get to see Donatello as the nerdy one. Donny’s a lit­tle shy, be­cause he speaks a dif­fer­ent lan­guage to the rest of the Tur­tles. But does he ever get frus­trated be­cause they don’t un­der­stand his tech­nob­a­b­ble? We see Raphael’s big heart. We went un­der the hood with each char­ac­ter.”

That char­ac­ter work didn’t just ap­ply to the di­a­logue. “Be­cause we shot us­ing mo­tion­cap­ture, we also worked out lots of lit­tle phys­i­cal tics. So, when Michelan­gelo is bored, you’ll see him swing­ing his nunchucks – they each have an ac­tiv­ity. They’re all im­pa­tient teenagers, they fid­dle.”

This lay­ered ap­proach spread from the re­turn­ing he­roes to the new guys. Casey Jones, played by Elias Koteas in the 1990 Tur­tles movie, is key for fans. Ar­row’s Stephen Amell will be bring­ing the hockey-masked vig­i­lante to the re­boot uni­verse, and Green worked closely with him to de­liver a fresh take. “I sat down with Stephen for breakfast, and we talked about who Casey Jones is. He’s bring­ing us a Casey Jones who’s at the ori­gin point of the char­ac­ter. When we first meet him, he’s a Cor­rec­tions Of­fi­cer for the New York Po­lice De­part­ment. Early on in the movie, he has a change in his em­ploy­ment sta­tus and de­cides to take mat­ters into his own hands.

“Stephen is bring­ing this en­ergy to Casey, where it feels like Casey is try­ing on this new per­son­al­ity for the first time. We can see that ex­cite­ment for hav­ing beaten some­one up with a hockey stick – that rush of adren­a­line. He’s

not a per­fect fighter, he doesn’t ex­e­cute ev­ery move with the el­e­gance that the Tur­tles do. He’s a lit­tle rough around the edges, he’s still fig­ur­ing out how to fight, how to be a vig­i­lante, and what that means for his life.”

The con­cept of ex­press­ing per­son­al­ity through fight moves was ap­plied across the (surf )board. “Ev­ery­one’s got a dif­fer­ent fight­ing style. Leonardo, who’s the best ninja, is com­posed and sur­gi­cal with his moves, he plans things out – he’s pre­cise. Michelan­gelo is a goof­ball when he fights, he’s like Jackie Chan, he likes to em­bar­rass his op­po­nents as much as he en­joys pum­melling them. Raphael, he’s brute force – he’s all about ag­gres­sion. He’s a football player, he’ll just go right through you. Donatello’s more cal­cu­lat­ing. And with Be­bop and Rock­steady, we in­jected ideas of their size and the way some­one that big would dam­age some­thing. They’re quite stupid with their fight moves, which is a lot of fun.”

One thing’s for sure, Green’s done his home­work. “There’s so many dif­fer­ent fac­tions of Tur­tles fans. There are the fans of the car­toon, the IDW se­ries, the Nick­elodeon se­ries. I grew up ab­sorb­ing my­self in the car­toon and the orig­i­nal ’90s movies. That’s what I lived and breathed ev­ery day as a kid. There are so many dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions, so it was im­por­tant to me to give each gen­er­a­tion some­thing. We would go through the comics, from the orig­i­nals to the cur­rent day, we’d flip through and find poses, bits of di­a­logue, lit­tle pieces of set dec­o­ra­tion that the Tur­tles might have in their lair, [such as] a sticker in the Tur­tle van. We man­aged to in­cor­po­rate Casey Jones’s ‘Goon­gala’ phrase, it’s buried in the movie some­where. We got pretty deep about it.”

Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles: Out Of The Shad­ows opens on 30 May.

It was im­por­tant to me to give each gen­er­a­tion of fans some­thing

Tur­tles in “get high” shocker.

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