Director Dave Green explains how he got ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ right

06.06.16 12 months ago

The original plan was a little different.

When I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, I talked to Paramount about doing an interview with Dave Green, the director of the film. They had a great idea, though, and proposed having Dave visit the new Woven studios to play action figures with Toshi and Allen, who had a day off of school. It would have been very apt, and while it didn”t come together, it was on my mind when I ended up sitting down with Dave myself.

Full disclosure up front: Dave and I are represented by the same manager. I forgot that until I got an e-mail from my manager after my review went up. Regardless, I like Dave”s work on both of the films he”s made now, and I opened the interview by paying him a very high compliment. It”s been on my mind since the option came up of having Toshi and Allen talk to him, and I told you, “You seem like you would have been huge fun to play action figures with as a kid.” That”s the exact impression I took from the film, that he was someone who loved the characters and loved creating his own adventures for them.

Right now, there is nothing studios value more than someone who can take an existing property and make it feel fresh or make a movie that connects with an audience. There”s no magic formula for doing it, but Green seems to have done a very good job here of making a movie that really speaks to the audience that already loves the characters. We discussed why that”s the case, and what the trick is in general. I say “trick,” but really it just goes back to some of the most fundamental ideas about filmmaking. You have to tell a story from an honest place. You have to write good characters. And if you”re adapting something, you have to retain the essence of the thing, otherwise why do it? That”s the real lesson from Deadpool“s success. It has nothing to do with a rating. It has everything to do with adaptation with integrity. If the thing you”re adapting is silly, then embrace that silly. Go for it. If the thing you”re adapting is big and colorful and exaggerated, then do that. Don”t try to reinvent it over and over. This is actually something I think may be worth a separate conversation.

Green was game for the discussion, though, and we talked about the various technical challenges of his first two films, whether that”s directing a cast of kids or creating four full-sized giant turtles who seamlessly occupy a real space. I”ve been pleasantly surprised to see other critics having more fun than they expected to with the film, because I think it”s one of the most unlikely things I”ve enjoyed this summer. I don”t need people to agree with me, but it”s nice to not feel crazy.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows is in theaters now.

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