The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are returning to the big screen this summer, courtesy of director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles). Unfortunately, the film has been doggedly pursued by bad buzz from the very start, ranging from early script leaks, to negative reactions to the redesigned Turtles themselves, to general malaise at the involvement of Michael Bay (even though he’s only producing, not directing). If you’re a Turtles fan who isn’t loving the look of the new feature film, a new TMNT fan project seeking crowdfunding might be more up your alley. You can check out the brief teaser video for TMNT Banished above. If nothing else, it’s nice to see the classic Turtles design again, rather than the upcoming movie’s freakish Shrek faces.
Here’s the official synopsis from Banished’s Indiegogo page:
The film will follow Raph soon after his uncontrollable violence labels him a threat to his family. Master Splinter has no choice but to banish his own son. So, accompanied by Casey Jones he takes refuge in Los Angeles. It’s when his itch for violence sends him out to the streets that he uncovers a familiar criminal organization. Getting to the root of it will surely win his place back in his family, but he will quickly discover that he’s not New York City’s only secret hiding on the West Coast.
Banished writer/director Benjamin Eck is a long-time Turtles fan who grew up loving Leo, Donny, Mikey, Raph, and the rest, and now he’s interested in telling a more grown-up story using the characters, one where, among other things, “highly dangerous ninja weapons are showcased doing the damage they’ve always been capable of.” In other words, none of the bloodless action we’re used to from the PG-rated Turtles. Ninja weapons weren’t designed by Nerf; they were made to do damage. “Raph is a trained ninja assassin,” continues Eck, “and that’s how we intend to portray him.” He insists, however, that Banished isn’t a reaction to the direction of the upcoming feature, but rather is “simply about achieving a darker vision.”
If you’re intrigued by TMNT Banished, the project could definitely use your help. With 39 days left in its Indiegogo funding period, it’s so far raised only $410 of its $75,000 goal. They’ve got a long way to go, and Banished is a fixed funding “all or nothing” campaign, meaning if they don’t raise the $75,000 they need, they won’t get any of it. The cash will go toward various aspects of production, including creating a decent Raphael costume. You can see some of the character designs below.
As with other crowdfunding projects, the more you pledge, the better perks you get. Ten bucks and higher gets you access to behind-the-scenes content as the project goes forward, and $25 will get you a copy of the soundtrack and your name in the credits. Fifty dollars earns you a digital download of the film, $75 lets you choose one of four character posters (Raph, Shredder, Casey Jones, or a Foot Clan soldier), and $150 allows you to view a version of the film with commentary. If you’re feeling really generous, you can drop $500 and all the lower-tier stuff plus a “Raphael eye mask and Foot Clan headband.” You know, for your kids. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)
If you prefer your Turtles Bay-ified, check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in theaters beginning on August 8. You can pass the time watching that episode of the Ophrah Winfrey Show where the Turtles were guests…