Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blast from the Past #655: April 13, 2005: Re: Lighting/Texture for Trailer

Subj: Re: Lighting/Texture for Trailer
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2005 12:00:09 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


I managed to get the stuff this morning, using the wireless access at my favorite breakfast/lunch place in town, Hayfields.

The texture and color stuff looks GREAT! I am very happy with the overall look... if we can keep this kind of detail and quality in the feature, I think we'll have something really cool. I especially like that contrast between the brightly lit cityscape in the background and the darker, more shadowy areas the Turtles are jumping around in. (Before I forget it -- something I wanted to bring up about the opening of the teaser: Rather than have all four Turtles standing in pretty much the same pose, I wonder if we should break it up a little -- not necessarily have ALL of them in wildly different postures, but it occurred to me that it would be neat to at least have Raph in a crouch, maybe on top of a pipe or something (similar to his pose in the first issue, in the full page before he sends Splinter's message to Oroku Saki).

Looking at the lighting of the alleyway, I was struck by the idea that it might be cool to add another light (like the one attached to the building at the end of the alley) which would be above the manhole cover, so that when we push in and get a good look at it, it would be well lit. Just a thought.

Re: Leo's chest strap: I'm not sure what to say. I'm not entirely sure what the issue is -- are you saying that when the model is built, the strap doesn't lay as it should, and needs to be distorted in a weird way to actually make it work when Leo moves around? I'm open to looking at different ideas for the strap and the way it attaches to both belt and scabbards, but I wonder also if it might be useful to look back at the way the Henson people made it work in the first live action movie. I must say that I am somewhat attached to the basic look of Leo's belt setup, so my preference would be to find a way to make that look work.

By the way -- nice interview! I don't know if you've had time to track any of the fan response to the announcement of the CGI movie, but it's been pretty interesting -- it's gone from about 20% pro/80% con to just about the exact reverse in the last couple of weeks, and I think what you said in your interview helped a lot to convince people that this was something to look forward to. 

-- Pete

Friday, June 28, 2013

Blast from the Past #654: April 1, 2005: Re: first pass and 2 other things

Subj: Re: first pass and 2 other things
Date: Friday, April 1, 2005 1:08:58 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


Here are my comments on your list.


General Turtles question: can we alter any of their masks? i.e. can one of them wear a bandana instead of the mask? We’ll keep the classic colors, but can we put any markings  on the masks? (just questions to open the forum. I like the bandana idea for Raph, but it’s not a hill I need to die on for now.) >>

  My preference is to stay with the classic mask look. Over-the-head bandanas remind me of "THE NEXT MUTATION" live-action TV show.... blech. While they are okay for the Turtle Tots (the Turtles as youngsters seen in several episodes of the new animated series), I don't like them on the adult Turtles.

<<We’ll probably make the different body shapes (only slightly, I know) on the second pass of deliverables. (schedule still forthcoming). I’m thinking of Raph being a little more cut, but am open to any other opinions you may have on Mikey and Don, or reference to what’s been done already, or any avenues you’ve gone down, good and bad, before this. >>

  I have no problem with Raph being more muscular... and as far as other physical changes go, "I'll know it when I see it" -- in other words, I have a mental image of what will be okay, but it's hard for me to put into words. But a rough rule of thumb might be to say that a variation from a "standard" Turtle form of 10 to 15% would probably be okay (depending, of course, on what that variation actually looked like). Maybe Don should have a slightly bigger head (proportionally to his body) than the others.

  A lot of the visual variation for the Turtles can -- and I think should -- come from posture. For example: Mike slouches a lot, is very casual; Raph likes tough-guy poses, hunched over/angry; Leo stands tall, is very precise in his movements; Don is slightly distracted all the time, as he thinks about a lot of stuff.

just confirming: the deformed ear is a mainstay, right?>>

  No, not necessarily. That torn ear concept was used in the first movie and was developed to make a particular plot point work. I think Splinter would be fine with or without it.

<<Does he have to wear a tattered robe, or can it be a little more presentable? (not shiny, but more everyday wear, gi-style)>>

  I think Splinter could wear a robe which isn't tattered; in fact, he could certainly have several different outfits. But the key, I think, is that whatever he wears, it should be simple in design... to reflect his higher level of Zen mastery.

she will be the most challenging – human and female. Pushing for a few clothing changes – jungle, business wear, casual, training, final battle. Already have resistance on that from Hong Kong, but I will push it through. We can maybe alter the color/texture of her casual wear for a low-impact way of adding variety to her wardrobe as well.

- as discussed, all of this gear will be store-bought-able. Is the white mask a given? Could it be any other color/painted design?>>

  I think the white hockey mask is an iconic element for Casey, and thus I would be very reluctant to change it. Maybe there could be an opportunity somewhere in this story for Casey to apply "war paint" to his mask to customize it -- preparing for a big battle or something.

GENERAL UNO (names still not given)
- again, we’ll only see her sans-mask for one shot at the end. Up until that point, we’ll make her body a bit less curvy and less feminine to not raise unnecessary questions.

  The comment about Karai and her curvy figure made me realize that there is really no good reason why some of the Foot Ninja couldn't be women.

<<- do we want a logo? Is it the one from the tv show? If so, what the heck is that logo supposed to stand for? If not, what do you want for a logo?>>

  I'm not completely sure what you mean by "what the heck is that logo supposed to stand for". But I am not opposed to a new logo for the film, as long as it works well and looks cool. I like the design of the logo which we are using on the TV show and all licensed products -- it's a variation/updating of the original Playmates Toys logo. Maybe we could tweak that. Also, we should probably decide if we want to have a "teaser" logo and a final logo -- for example, is "TMNT" as seen on the manhole cover at the end of the teaser trailer going to be a part of the final titles of the movie, or is that going to be the full "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"?

- I don’t think I want to ever refer to the monsters directly as “hey! There’s Bigfoot!”, but I like that we’re using it as a production design of sorts. On top of that, I am shooting for a look that sort of redefines, (while staying true to established convention) the look of some of these classics. The first four were picked to try and get a wide array of body types and silhouettes. The last three tbd’s and any others we see will be chosen same way.>>

I agree. The idea I've had in my head re: the monsters is that they -- the ones who come through Yaotl's portal thousands of years ago -- are the archetypes upon which the look and legend of our contemporary mythical monsters (i.e. Bigfoot, Yeti, Nessie, etc.) are based. So part of the design process might be to "reverse engineer" these monsters... in other words, to try to imagine what look would have inspired the legends we have today, as filtered through centuries of retelling and the recollections/testimony of not-necessarily-reliable eyewitnesses.

  One type of legendary monster which would be visually a lot of fun would be the fearsome Kraken, the sea monster which is thought to have been based on sightings of squids or octopi. A werewolf (or were-beast of any sort... were-lion, were-tiger. were-bear, were-elephant) would also be cool, as would some variation of my favorite movie monster, the Gill Man ("Creature From the Black Lagoon")... at least one which wouldn't get us in legal hot water with Universal Studios.

Really would like to see any reference you have for this from your show. Better yet, please wax poetic on your approach to this key layout. Is it an antechamber? An old subway station? Etc. Would love to know your thoughts on the “foundation” of the lair. What you liked about the current tv. What’s cool about the upcoming one. What don’t you like about what’s been done? I think we’re on the same page with wanting something unique and cool with offshooting rooms and pipes and inter-connected chambers, but I want to get in your headspace as much as possible on this before hand. I’m probably going to have the guy who designed most of the underground lairs in Matrix 2 and 3, Van Helsing sets, and the Judge Dredd city, so we’ll be in good conceptual hands, I think. (at least he didn’t write the scripts!)>>

  The basic idea for the Turtles' lair, in pretty much all of its incarnations, is that it is a part of the city infrastructure that was lost/forgotten/abandoned, and the Turtles found it and made it their own... with quite a bit of customization over the years. I'm not married to any particular design, but the basic things are individual rooms for each Turtle and Splinter, maybe a few extra rooms for guests, a dojo/training area, kitchen, armory, workshop, and common area. The entrances and exits need to be carefully/cleverly hidden, and can be things that Donatello has worked out, like sliding walls, hidden panels, doors disguised as pipes, etc. -- the idea being that the Turtles don't want to be discovered, even accidentally by a curious sewer worker.


I remember your response to the proposed drawings a long time ago, so I know we’re not altering the Turtles’ gear they wear everyday. But you mentioned it might be okay for special purposes – i.e. final battle. If we preluded this by Don tinkering with new gear for them during the movie, could the tmnt use it at the end?
Those issues aside, does that mean that in their standard “walking around” look, that the tmnt “tuck” their weapons into their tied belts, and that’s their only “gear”? When they bring out other gadgets – claws, stars, etc., where do they hold them? Do we do the Looney Tunes off camera grab? I know that Don has a sash bag from the show, but just curious what your thoughts are.>>

  I understand the impulse to add new stuff to the Turtles, and I am not opposed to them using new gear for specific reasons... but the sai, katana, bo and nunchaku have become powerful iconic elements of the TMNT "mythos", and thus need to be retained as is. That said, one of the things that we have tried to do in the various iterations of the TMNT is to show that although those four weapons are their PREFERRED weapons, they have also received lots of training in other weapons, and are proficient in them.

The question of "Where do those climbing claws come from, anyway?" is a good one. In the comics and the TV show, we have been able to "cheat" it... but my thought has always been that a certain amount of gear could be stored on the INSIDE of their belts, tucked away into low-profile pockets hidden on that reverse side. If it becomes a problem in terms of logic and realism, maybe we could think about giving them some kind of small pouches attached to the belts to carry these small gadgets. Don's shoulder bag is more for carrying larger stuff or multiples of smaller things, and/or the tools he needs for a particular job.

Going after the same production design as the flashbacks, this ancient culture, the motifs of his building etc. But just higher tech.

Just a funny van decorated to fit Mikey’s alter ego as a party mascot.>>

  That could be cool. This could also be a useful "hide in plain sight" surveillance/transport vehicle. Which actually raises another question -- I don't know if it is needed, given the demands of the story, but the Turtles in both animated series have had a "group vehicle" in which they (and Splinter) can all travel together. In the current series, it was first a converted bank armored car called the "BattleShell", and then a converted moving van. Do we need something like this?

tweaked out ktm adventurer, right? Either way, we’ll keep the advice of an off-road suspension design and take it to heart.>>

  Barring any possible legal problems with using the KTM-specific design, I think that's a great bike to use for this purpose. 

I can’t find the paper where I wrote down your key villains that we would see during the opening credits projected onto walls, etc. Could you provide again, please?>>

  I think Gary has made a pretty comprehensive list, which either he or I will send you, but here is a list off the top of my head, some from the comics, some from the new TV show:

  Foot Ninja/Shredder Elite Ninja/Tech Ninja
  Rat King
  Leatherhead (he's not really a villain, but they did fight him... and he's cool-looking)
  Battle Nexus warriors
Ultimate Draco
Savanti Romero

I'm sure there are more. It just occurred to me that it might be fun to show glimpses during these credits some of their allies, as well -- Fugitoid and Usagi Yojimbo both come to mind. (The fans would dig it!)

<<That’s about it. We’re ramping up with artists to get going on all aspects of design. And we’ll also get you guys that schedule for what to expect and when. I’m pushing for a small amount of just percolation time (couple of weeks), just to flesh out our general direction. Then the actual designs will begin then. Schedule will explain more.

Anything else that comes into your head along the above lines, please feel free to throw in.



  Cool! Looking forward to seeing more stuff.

    -- Pete

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blast from the Past #653: March 8, 2005: Re: Fourth Rev. Treatment and March 28, 2005: Re: first pass animation

Subj: Re: Fourth Rev. Treatment
Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 3:55:46 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


Here are my comments on TMNT movie treatment #4.

1.) I don't really have much to say! Thanks for consideration of/inclusion of many of my suggestions. I think we are on solid ground here, and unless something unforeseen comes up in the discussions we're planning to have in Northampton, I can see progressing to the script stage from this treatment.

2.) One thing about the ending -- given that a lot of the tension/conflict in this story comes from the friction between Leo and Raph, I thought it might be cool to give the two of them a "moment" either after we see Casey and April roar off on Raph's bike, or just before. Maybe we could tie it in with the "Raph gives up Nightwatcher" scene -- I'm thinking something like this: Raph is standing on the edge of a rooftop... he's got his Nightwatcher costume crumpled up in his hands. He's looking at it... obviously conflicted (at least a little bit)... then suddenly, silently (ninja-like!) Leo is beside him. Leo could say something supportive to Raph, something about like he thinks Raph doesn't HAVE to give up Nightwatcher completely. But Raph shakes his head... he says something to Leo about that part of his life not being so important to him now (still, it was kinda fun)... and with a rueful grin, he drops the beat-up costume off the edge of the roof, and we follow it as it flutters down and lands in a Dumpster or trash can. 

Cut back to Raph and Leo... they share a look, then do something which demonstrates their affection/respect for each other (a cool handshake, a big hug, whatever -- actually, it might be cool if Leo offers the handshake (thinking macho Raph wouldn't dig the hug) and then Raph surprises him by giving him the big hug). Then Raph says "Looks like it's gonna be a beautiful night, bro... how about a training run?" Leo grins back at him, they "slap three", and says "Let's do it!"

Just then, they are startled by another voice -- "Got room for one more?" -- it's Don, who has crept up on them with ninja stealth. He twirls his bo staff as Leo and Raph grin. Then we hear off screen footsteps running -- the three Turtles whip out their weapons in a defensive flourish -- and in leaps Mikey, a little out of breath (we don't immediately see his whole body, especially his head, but we hear his voice saying something like "Wait for me! I ran all the way here..."). Leo, Don and Raph, share a look... then Leo says (long-suffering tone) "Uh... Mikey..." and points.

Cut to a medium shot of Mikey -- he's still wearing his "Party Turtle" costume head! "What? What?!" he says... then realizes. "Oh. Oops..." and takes off the head. "Sorry..." MIkey whips out his 'chuks...

... and all four Turtles, in perfect TMNT form, leap off the edge of the building... and we freeze frame on the four... brothers once more! The end. Run credits.

-- Peter


Subj: Re: first pass animation
Date: Monday, March 28, 2005 1:01:56 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


I meant to get this out to you on Friday, but got caught up with weekend Easter stuff.

The new clip is very cool -- it's exciting to see the progress. I think the Turtles, specifically their heads, still need some tweaking. But I'm loving the overall feel of it.

The ending dolly in to the manhole cover with the TMNT logo on it seems a bit too abrupt -- I think it works better if you get more of a feel for WHERE that manhole cover is (i.e. in the alley the Turtles just disappeared from). RIght now it happens so quickly it doesn't really feel like part of one continuous shot.

Also, while the final "leap off the building into the alley" thing works -- and I like the new up shot -- it occurred to me after watching it several times if it might be more exciting, and more fun, if -- instead of cutting just as the Turtles leap off the building, then switching to that up camera angle -- we had the camera FOLLOW the Turtles off the edge, and then FALL faster than they do, all the while panning UP and BACK so that we end up on the ground in that UP angle, but we've had a cool little vertigo moment before it.

And I'm still not sure about the beginning, where the Turtles are all facing forward, and then turn around and head off backwards/sideways. There is something about it which still doesn't work for me -- maybe it needs some tweaking. Maybe it happens too abruptly. I do think that it might be a good idea to try having them leap FORWARD instead -- maybe have a brief bit where Leo turns his head to make sure that the others are with him, then he (and they) leap forward.

Look forward to the next iteration!

-- Pete


Subj: Re: trailer sample
Date: Sunday, May 15, 2005 9:21:32 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe

In a message dated 5/13/05 1:25:43 AM, Kevin Munroe writes:

<<I'm going to try and upload at least one shot (maybe just a couple of seconds) to the folder. HOpefully give you a better taste of what's to come. I'll do that within the hour tonight under "trailer renders".>>


Did you manage to do this (above)? Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I can't find anything like that on the ftp site.

I've been having fun re-watching the teaser trailer Quicktime movie -- tonight I went through it frame by frame a couple of times, and got a better idea of all of the cool stuff the animators are doing with the Turtles' movements. By the way, I love the way that light post wobbles when one of the Turtles lands on top of it -- very nice.

It got me thinking... I'm going to a small comic show in Portsmouth, NH this coming Sunday (the 22nd) -- it's kind of a return to origins thing, as this show is being put on by the same guy who put on the show back in May of 1984 where Kevin and I premiered the first issue of the TMNT comic. I'm even doing a special 3000-copy reprint (same number as the original first printing) of the first TMNT comic with all-new tones and lettering. 

I think it would be very cool to do some kind of "teaser print" (maybe a hundred or two) of one or more frames from the teaser trailer, to hand out to the fans who will be there. I've gone through the trailer and have frame-grabbed five possible frames which I think fit the bill of being visually interesting but not giving too much away (though the shot of Leo, Raph and Don in the alley might be pushing that envelope). If everyone agrees that this is a good idea, I would need better/higher rez frames of these shots so that the prints would look best. I would also need to know what to put on these prints to cover all pertinent copyright issues.

Though obviously not vital, I think this is something that would be fun and keep those rumor mills churning. If I were to do this, I would need the higher rez frames by Wednesday of this week. Let me know what you guys think.

-- Pete

P.S. I'm attaching a jpeg of the five frames I grabbed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blast from the Past #652: February 27, 2005: Re: Rev. Treatment, and March 1, 2005: comments on third draft of treatment

Subj: Re: Rev. Treatment
Date: Sunday, February 27, 2005 2:49:10 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


As it will probably take me at least another day or two (or three) to put together my detailed comments about the third draft treatment you sent to us, I wanted to zap you off this quick email to tell you that I think we have something here. It all hangs together pretty well and is definitely -- at least to me -- a solid foundation for moving to the next step, which I would assume is a script (or maybe it's a REALLY finished/polished treatment). It probably makes sense to continue to massage this treatment for a little while more so that most if not all of the small holes get filled in and the rough edges smoothed out -- my estimate would be that we are about 75% of the way there (to a finished, approvable treatment).

But I am very happy that you have put together the elements we have been discussing in a way which tells a complete story without any gaping logic holes. There are a number of areas which still need tweaking to varying degrees, and I'll try to address as many of them as I can with my detailed notes. I think this could turn out to be a wonderful movie and a wild ride.

I'll be in touch soon!

-- Peter


Subj: comments on third draft of treatment
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 10:35:09 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


One general comment before I get into specifics -- I'm not convinced that what is in this draft of the treatment is the best way to tell the fairly complicated backstory of Yaotl and the Generals and the monsters. I suspect that we will end up shuffling the elements around a bit.

1.) Re: the following:

"The brothers are forced to come together when strange phenomena begin to plague New York City – the plant life is growing like crazy, there is a mass-migration of wildlife into the city, and eventually, reports of strange CREATURES are popping up all over the place. "

While the plant life growing like crazy thing could be very fun visually, I'm not sure it makes much sense. I don't see a reason for it. Which is not to say that we COULDN'T think of a reason for it -- just that right now I don't see one.

2.) Re: the following:

"Splinter Opening Narration about “family” and “brotherhood”"

This seems a bit heavy-handed and overly corny to me.

3.) I still like the idea of opening the movie with the flashback to the big battle with Yaotl and his forces against the united tribes of the Olmecs, as it could go a long way to setting up the backstory of Yaotl/WInters and save us from doing too much long-winded and awkward exposition later on in the movie. Also, I kind of dig the idea of tweaking the expectations of the viewers who have just sat down in their seats to watch a TMNT movie... and instead are faced with something out of a Mesoamerican "Lord of the Rings".

4.) Re: the following:

SEWER PIPES - learn backstory of TMNT and see rogues gallery of villains they’ve defeated along the way."

It might be cool to expand the environments/settings here -- i.e. not just sewer tunnels but alleyways, rooftops, various interiors, natural exteriors, etc. -- maybe having the images mentioned projected like film onto the surfaces of these locations.

5.) Re: the following:

Catch the tail end of a high-adrenaline scene with APRIL surrounded by angry Jungle natives, pissed that she stole a SACRED STATUE from them. Using her wiles, a winch tied between a cargo plane and the statue, she gets out of the jam.
CUT TO: In the air, April flies the plane. Big and empty except for the wrapped artifact now in the middle of the hull. The Statue. Reveal LEO in the back, hitching a pre-planned ride home with April. Hasn’t seen family in a long time."

I'm trying -- but failing -- to visualize how April uses "her wiles, a winch tied between a cargo plane and the statue". Also, do we really want April to be STEALING this artifact? Maybe she has actually paid for it, and now the natives want more money or something.

Given that Leo is in her plane, should he be part of this scene and maybe help her get out of this jam?

6.) Re: the following:

Establish that April and Casey have broken up long ago. She’d like to have feelings for him, but can’t. Leo looks forward to going home.
Leo noticed “change” in jungle animals’ behavior recently. More agitated or something.
Leo finishes up his conversation and suddenly opens the plane hatch! He parachutes out into NYC Harbor! Lands in the water for a secret drain pipe entrance into the city and back home. April flies to airstrip with cargo."

I would like to try to work out this April/Casey thing so that it is emotionally "real" and when they get back together it will be a powerful, affecting moment. As it is not a KEY plot point, we can tweak and massage this through the script stage until it feels right.

And I think it would be cooler if Leo doesn't parachute out of the airplane, but DIVES into the water. Of course, this kind of depends on how high above the surface April is flying -- if it is so high that it seems unlikely that even a mutant turtle would survive hitting the water, maybe Leo should have not a parachute, but some kind of cooler. sleek strap-on glider wings, which he could release himself from at an appropriate altitude and drop into the water. But it would probably work best if he could just jump out of the airplane into the water.

7.) Re: the following:

"She leaves. Winters is happy. Alone with statue, he opens a back door. Three other statues already there and strapped with high tech EXO-SUITS that have gold/chrome detailing with ancient GLYPHS carved into them. (we’ll use the “magical pacemaker” approach as we discussed) Winters looks to be mean guy with ulterior motives to audience.
Dark room – there are other shapes in there. But we don’t see them. Scary."

It might be cool for this scene if there is a FOURTH exo-suit waiting for the fourth statue, set up as if it just needs to be strapped on or activated. In fact, if it works, we might even see the beginning of this process as Winters positions the newly acquired statue within the fourth exo-suit, and the various parts of it begin to merge with the statue.

Also, I'm not sure what the "other shapes" in the last line refers to.

8.) Re: the following:

"SHOT OF STARS – In the heavens above, we see STARS, looking like they’re slowly moving into an ALIGNMENT of some sort…"

I am a little reluctant to use this "stars aligning" gag, as it has a slight cheesy air to it, and also introduces some elements which might prove problematic, logically. The most obvious one is that Yaotl didn't have to wait for this alignment of stars centuries ago when he summoned these monsters through the gate he opened (and a good thing, too, as it would have been somewhat inconvenient in the middle of a war).

UNLESS... we establish as part of the backstory that Yaotl's summoning of this horde of demons was not a desperation move as we had originally discussed, but was instead part of Yaotl's long-term plan of conquest.

I'm not totally opposed to the "stars aligning" thing, but if we use it we should try to make it seem less cliched than it does right now. Also, we should try to answer the question (if we need to) of why Winters is doing this in NYC instead of somewhere in the Yucatan.

9.) Re: the following:

Casey is now working with inner city kids sport leagues. Given up his vigilante life. Admonishes the vigilante Nightwatcher in front of the kids.
Casey sees strange GLYPHS carved into a building wall. Kids deny having anything to do with it. Casey’s curious. Something doesn’t feel right…"

It's unclear to me whether or not Nightwatcher is actually in this scene or if Casey is just talking about him. I suspect it is the latter.

Also, the idea that Casey has given up his vigilante life seems to be somewhat in conflict with his breakup with April. It seems like that would be one of the things he would have done to make her happy. If he had, would they have broken up? Or if he had and they HAD broken up anyway, would he have gone back to vigilanteism? Things we need to think about...

10.) Re: the following:

"They look into an alley. See THE FOOT! They’re tagging a wall – carving a GLYPH into it with a bizarre ARTIFACT. Strange. TMNT and Foot fight – just like old times."

I have no problem with the Turtles and the Foot fighting, but I think there should be a good reason for them to do so in this circumstance -- they don't just fight on sight. I doubt the Turtles would have started a fight just because they see some Foot "tagging" a wall with strange glyphs. Perhaps Raph (who is pissed off anyway) could instigate it and the rest reluctantly go along.

11.) Re: the following:

" Foot demand more money since freaky monster things are involved. Winters doesn’t bat an eye. (note – the Foot are now muscle for hire after losing Shredder)"

It might be a good idea to plant a seed of an idea here -- as subtly as we can -- that the Foot are not terribly happy with the fact that their station has sunk so low, and that one of them -- perhaps it's Karai? -- has ambitions to bring the Foot back to prominence as a criminal enterprise. I am suggesting this as a way to possibly link this movie to a sequel, which I hope will follow. 

12.) Re: the following:

"Don tries to figure out mystery of what’s going on. Something familiar about the monster…"

I'm not sure what is implied by Don sensing "something familiar" about the monster.

13.) Re: the following:

News reports intermingled in Act II to talk about “strange crime wave” in the streets of NYC. Maybe we’ll hear the reports, dismissing everything as “normal” crime, but we’ll see what REALLY happened. People are missing (viewers can fill in the blanks there), vandalism, etc. "

I suspect it is a matter of using the phrase "crime wave" as a sort of shorthand, but I don't think we're really talking about a "crime wave" per se. This is more like a series of bizarre incidents, I think, as opposed to crimes committed.

14.) Re: the following:

"Raph goes out as Nightwatcher, determined to find out what’s up with the Monsters. Casey sees Nightwatcher from his window. Grabs trusty bat and goes to inspect, sans Goalie Mask. Realizes it’s Raph. Two sit like gargoyles, catching up on old days, and we learn more about Raph as well as Casey’s unhappiness with their lives."

I'm not sure if Casey should appear here without his hockey mask -- might be a lot cooler if he's wearing it in this scene. Also -- how exactly does Casey realize it's Raph? And how is it that HE can do it, but not Leo or the other Turtles? I suppose it could be because Raph takes off his helmet, but as you know, I still have a big problem with the other Turtles not being able to tell that Raph is Nightwatcher.

15.) Re: the following:

"About to leave, Winters sees Raph. What a strange monster! This one isn’t like the others. He fires a TRANQ DART and Raph turns his shell to take the hit."

Might it be extra fun if the "tranq dart" was also a TRACKER dart? It might make for a fun bit to have it be so, and have Winters send a Foot force, equipped with a scanning gizmo which points them in the direction of the tracker dart, after the "strange monster". We could play it back and forth, switching point of view from the Turtles and friends in the lair to the Foot searching the tunnels, all the way up to the point that the Foot are ALMOST at the hidden entrance to the lair, when Don realizes that this dart is also a tracking device -- and destroys it. And just at that moment, outside the lair, the Foot's scanner goes dead -- no more signal. They groan -- so close and yet so far! -- and leave.

16.) Re: the following:

April goes to Lair. Taking defense lessons from Splinter. Splinter is very fatherly and protective of her. Raph and Casey barge in, Raph badly beaten. (without Nightwatcher garb) The TMNT spot the bladed weapons in his shell, as well as a stun dart from Winters. April knows the symbol."

If April is in the lair when Casey and Raph stumble in, there should be some awkwardness and tension between her and Casey.

Also, what is the symbol that April knows? Is it something on the bladed weapon or the dart?

17.) Re: the following:

"But it turns out that the army was UNCONTROLLABLE. Through a folly of his own, Yaotl couldn’t harness their power and they eventually dispersed to the furthest flung recesses of the jungle and eventually the Earth…
What happened next? No one knows."

What about the curse we discussed, the one which turned the Generals to stone and made Yaotl an immortal? 

18.) Re: the following:

"NEWS FLASH – See Brooklyn Bridge covered in hundreds of deer. Something strange is going on…"

Nice image, but -- like the strange growth of vegetation -- I don't get how it relates to our tale.

19.) Re: the following:

Montage of Winters and his Generals capturing dozens of monsters in NYC. See the process of the collar, the glyphs that detect monster presences (Winters using an artifact-looking locator device), and how the Foot help as an Advance Team by deterring traffic, clearing areas, etc.
See “close calls” as people think they see glimpses of these creatures before they move on or are captured. "

I'd like to get more clarity on how these glyphs work -- are they SUMMONING the monsters, or do they just REACT to the presence of monsters, or both?

20.) Re: the following:

Big chase ensues. Leo chasing Nightwatcher. They stop and fight. Down and dirty hardcore. Pushed out of character, Leo explodes in anger, whaling on Nightwatcher, knocking his helmet off – it’s RAPH! Leo freezes.
Raph’s turn – in a burst of pent up anger, he knocks Leo down, about to drive the sai through his eye and he pulls back. Raph is ashamed. He runs off into the night. Leo does too. Both are stunned."

I'm STILL having problems with this idea that Leo couldn't recognize that Nightwatcher is actually Raph. It makes him seem DULL to me... not at all the keen ninja blade that he is.

21.) Re: the following:

" Mikey pretends to be a birthday-gram message (the longest ever) for the security guards.
Mikey gets bored and ends up knocking out the guards to join his brothers upstairs."

I don't think Mike should knock these guards out just because he gets bored -- that's not Mikey behavior -- but I could buy him doing it if the guards get bored and irritated with HIM and make aggressive physical moves to throw him out of the building.

22.) Re: the following:

"Raph is rushing to the Observatory and gets there just in time to see Mikey, Leo and Don all being tranquilized by Winters and the Four Warriors! He doesn’t know what to do. Winters thinks that the creatures must have had offspring or something. But now his collection is complete.
Afterwards, we see April hiding in corner. The perfect ninja-in-training.
Lowest point for Raph – realizes he’s messed everything up.


Raph returns back.  April and Splinter there too."

I'm not clear on why Raph runs away back to the lair instead of pursuing  Winters and his crew -- that seems so un-Raph-like. There may in fact be a good reason for it, but right now I don't see it.
Also, does April return to the lair with Raph? That part is a little vague.

23.) Re: the following:

"OUTSIDE BUILDING – April, Casey and Raph show up in shadows. Raph has to go up to the top to confront Winters. April and Casey break into the building to rescue the TMNT. "

I'm not clear why Raph does what he does here -- isn't finding and freeing the other Turtles the top priority? Again, maybe there is a good reason which I'm just not seeing.

Also, it just occurred to me -- are we keeping Splinter out of the action too much? Maybe he needs a chance to kick some ass, like we have him do in the current animated series. Maybe he should be there with Raph, or with April and Casey.

Also, are Casey and April taking a shot in the dark here? I mean, how do they know where the Turtles are being held? Should we throw in a little "Turtle Tech" here and reveal that Don has some kind of tracker gizmo wired into his belt or something, and April is using one of Don's own inventions to locate him?

24.) Re: the following:

"Turns out that the Generals DID catch #101 on their own – they just stashed it in a warehouse across town. They’ll never be able to return all the creatures in time.

April runs to Winters. He charges them with finding the 101st Monster. Takes out his tracking device he found earlier, he gives it to April."

Something about the Generals stashing monster 101 in "a warehouse across town" just seems so... ordinary. I think we should bend a few brain cells toward thinking of some weird and unusual place they might have hid this thing.

Also, what is this "tracking device he found earlier" that Winters produces? I don't remember it.

25.) Re: the following:

"Quick beat as Mikey has to go down to street level to enjoy being on the surface world. He orders pizza from an empty shop. Leaves money on counter. It’s everything he thought it would be…"

I'd like to just take this bit out.

26.) Re: the following:

"Raph gives up Nightwatcher. Secret safe with Leo. April there too. End with gag of Casey, tearing away on Nightwatcher’s bike, screaming like crazy."

I have no problem with Casey taking off on Raph's bike, but I wonder if April should be with him.

-- Peter

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blast from the Past #651: February 14, 2005: Re: treatment/design, and February 25, 2005: teaser trailer animatic comments

Subj: Re: treatment/design
Date: Monday, February 14, 2005 8:55:40 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


I look forward to the next step.

  I'm impressed by the new model -- it's getting closer to approval. I have made some comments on the image and am attaching it to this email. One of my major concerns at this point is what I refer to on the image as the "no wrists/no ankles" look. I kind of dig it, as it echoes the look of the original comic book Turtles, but I have serious concerns about how it will look when animated. And if we give the Turtles a bit more of a "ripped" muscular look (which I think we should), coming up with convincing musculature for those parts of the body might be very difficult.

  Talk to you soon.

-- Peter


Subj: teaser trailer animatic comments
Date: Friday, February 25, 2005 2:29:32 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


Got the teaser trailer animatic yesterday, and watched it five times, one after the other. Thought it was pretty darn cool. I understand that it is FAR from being finished, and that this is a really rough state and many things will be added/changed/improved. But I am going to make a few comments anyway, with the knowledge that many of the things I mention you may already be thinking about.

  1.) First -- and I say this with the caveat that this is a rough piece, and thus we have not yet seen EXACTLY how the finished Turtles will look when animated -- I think the most exciting thing for me is how neat this "new style" Turtle (the slightly more big foot/big hands, less human/more "creature"-like) looks in motion. Some of the movement across the rooftops was really cool, and I think we will be able to do some stuff with the CGI Turtles that -- while not ludicrous "Matrix" -style movements -- will show off their non-human nature and more-than-human abilities.
One of the things that surprised me was how cool and effective were  the "frog jump"-style leaping moves some of the Turtles employed. I think that was one of the more animal-like things I dug about the movements.

2.) I'm not sure if this would work, but in my head I can kind of see it being a cool way to visually "bookend" the trailer. You know how we end with a close-up of the round manhole cover with TMNT on it... my suggestion would be to start the teaser with the shot of the moon in roughly the same size on screen as we END on the manhole cover. Then, as clouds scud in front of the moon, we pull back and end up in roughly the same orientation as is in the animatic. It would be subtle, but might be a nifty way to make the whole thing connect. Actually... as I typed that last line, it occurred to me that doing so could make for a really cool video loop -- as you reach the end of the trailer on the manhole cover, you do a dissolve back into the moon... and it starts all over again.

3.) Though I like the way the Turtles start moving, I wonder if it would make more sense for them to move FORWARD after Leo's eyes open instead of having them all turn around and go backwards, when they are all standing facing the same way when we first see them. That little bit right after they turn to leave their first positions on the rooftop, and you see them leaping across some chasm, framed on left and right by buildings, is the weakest in terms of movement in the whole animatic, I think.
  Perhaps it might work better to do something similar to a camera move near the end of the trailer, where the camera moves around and to the side of Leo after he has landed in the alleyway. In this case, the camera might move around Leo a beat after his eyes open, and kind of start to come around BEHIND him as he leaps across to the next building, followed by his brothers.

  4.) My favorite shot of all comes a little more than halfway to the end,  when the camera is moving, following the boys from behind as they leap through smoke or steam -- just before leaping off the edge of the building before the clock face. Wicked!

  5.) I didn't realize it until I looked at it in extreme slow motion, but the order in which the Turtles leap and drop into the alley seems all messed up. The order as you see them leap off is Mike/Leo/Raph/Don, but when we go to the alleyway view, the order is exactly reversed!
I know that in animation you can kind of cheat timing, but I am a little concerned about the timing of the individual Turtles' landings and subsequent "show off" moves. My concern has to do with how long it takes each Turtle to land from the rooftop -- if they all dropped straight down, they would all land within a second or two of each other, not nearly spaced far apart enough to do their individual poses and weapons flourishes. Which makes me wonder if it is really necessary to show ALL of the Turtles dropping out of sight over the edge of the roof in the previous shot. Maybe all we really need to get the idea across is to show ONE of the (Don?) dropping out of sight, with the others clearly heading in that direction.

  Another possibility -- which I will admit right up front might be too much -- might be to follow Don for a brief moment as he begins his plummet into the alleyway (the camera coming up and getting a partial view into and down between the buildings) so that we can see for a split second that the walls leading down into the alleyway are not bare walls, but have pipes and ledges as well as fire escapes -- all items that the Turtles could use to bounce/swing/flip off of to slow their descent into the alleyway. Actually, to show them actually leaping into this chasm from above might be a wonderful "vertigo" moment for the audience.

6.) Though the "Mikey landing in the Dumpster" bit works well and is funny, I'm a little disappointed that we never see him again after he lands in the Dumpster. I was really hoping that he would get out of it and for a brief moment -- probably frozen in the light from the police car -- we would see all four Turtles posed as they were in the first page of the first TMNT comic book. The fans would love it! (Okay, so would I...)
At the very least, I think he should pop his head up out of the Dumpster -- and maybe Don should lightly bop him on the head with his bo staff.

  7.) I like all Leo's sword kata moves at the end EXCEPT for the one where he brings his left knee up and across his midsection -- it looks a little weird.

  8.) It might be cool to have the manhole cover be slightly ajar as we zoom up to it at the very end, then fall into place -- as if the last Turtle in had at that moment let it fall into place. Hmmm... would it be to much to have it up enough so that one of the last things you see before the camera moves into position directly above the manhole cover is a pair of white Turtle eyes peering balefully out?

  That's it for now. I do have to reiterate that I am getting excited about this teaser trailer -- it could be really great!

  -- Peter

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blast from the Past #650: February 12, 2005: Re: some backstory ideas

Subj: Re: some backstory ideas
Date: Saturday, February 12, 2005 6:29:34 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe


     I'm still thinking about your recent backstory notes document, but I wanted to get a few of my thoughts on it to you so we can keep this thing rolling. So here goes:

     1.) I'm not married to the idea of the big flashback being the opening scene to the movie, but I do think it could work. One of the things I was envisioning was something I've seen in a few movies: We have the big battle take place around -- or at least end -- on or near some distinctive, recognizable landmark (could be natural -- rock formation, unique-looking mountain, waterfall, etc. -- or manmade, i.e. an ancient pyramid or temple). The backstory segment ends with the camera locked onto that setting... then we do a dissolve to the present, without moving the camera.

     For example: Say we end the big battle of the backstory on the upper levels of some kind of pyramid/temple of this ancient pre-Olmec civilization. We pull back to a distance of a thousand feet or so, and we see the temple (it's daytime, maybe late afternoon) with all of the fire and blood and smoke from the previous battle creating our color palette... then we dissolve to present day, many centuries later. The temple has vanished under the creeping growth of the jungle, long lost to man... with JUST enough hints of its shape under all the trees and vines to remind the viewer that they are looking at the same temple. The color palette has shifted to cool and dark colors... it's night... the sky is filled with stars... and we do a pan downward to pick up the activity which begins that opening sequence with Leo doing his training thing.

     2.) Re: the following:

    "Start in a “Lost Civilization” that existed even before the Olmecs. Almost Atlantean, in that it’s technology and peoples were really advanced given their historical placement. I like that we can do this, provided that the civilization mysteriously disappears in our story, and the Olmecs started from scratch."

     Maybe I should wait until I've read this whole thing, but I feel like I should make a comment now. Whenever I read "Atlantis" and "technology" in the same line, I think of that old movie with the "death ray" that the Atlanteans had. I don't think we should go that far... maybe that's not what you are proposing. And I think the Olmecs might not necessarily have to start from absolute "scratch", but maybe they build upon the fragments of the previous civilization -- perhaps picking up on some of the basic design elements used by that civilization (so that when we design that vanished civilization, we can use some Olmec-like elements and thus imply that the Olmecs took from this precursor civilization... without really having to say anything).

     3.) Reading the rest of your ideas got me to thinking. What if... The "Plague Army" which was called forth was essentially a motley collection of various demonic, otherworldy critters and beast, which Yaotl, using magics he doesn't COMPLETELY understand, let loose against his enemies (in some kind of act of desperation, I would think). But, as you say, the plan kind of backfired, as these creatures were pretty uncontrollable, and they did as much damage to Yatol's own forces as they did to the opposing side (the "good guys"). The battle raged back and forth, but in the end, the united forces of Yaotl's opposition -- both warriors and wizards -- prevailed. Yaotl's army was destroyed, and the "plague army" -- whose numbers had been reduced due to many of the creatures being slain by both weapons and magic in the battle -- dispersed into the jungle.

     Now Yaotl and his four generals are cursed -- Yaotl becomes immortal, and the four generals stone statues.  (Maybe these stone statues are then transported to various far-flung locales -- as far-flung as is possible given the resources of this pre-Olmec civilization.) And for various reasons, this civilization proceeds to vanish into history,

     However... the "plague army", which had dispersed into the jungle, DIDN'T disappear. In fact, they dispersed further than the jungle, eventually spreading around the world and becoming the demons of legend which have plagued the world over the centuries. The vampires of Romania, the werewolves of Hungary, the chupacabra of Mexico, the Yeti and Bigfoot and Sasquatch, the mothmen, the Kraken and other sea monsters -- these and more were all remnants of the "plague army", stubbornly sticking around to plague mankind.

     And Yaotl, cursed with eternal life, came to understand this. Humbled in his defeat, he realized what evil and suffering his rash actions had visited upon the world. And he has spent all of his long years since that time trying to find a way to make it right. In fact, as part of his efforts, he has used his immortality as a tool to help him track down and capture some of these monsters through the years (and as part of the decor of his "headquarters", we could use some of these weird things, a la in the BPRD HQ in the "Hellboy" movie). He thinks he has the answer now. He is reconstructing the gateway that he had once used to bring these creatures into our world -- when finished, he plans to use it to gather them all together and send them BACK to Hell.

     (I'm not totally clear on all the practical details of this -- something we'd have to hash out.)

     One of the side effects of Yaotl/WInters' efforts is that -- for some arcane reason -- as he rebuilds the gateway, something about the mystic nature of it begins to attract the remnants of the "plague army", slowly drawing these creatures from their hiding places and dens around the world, luring them to New York. (One of the reasons I like this part is that it could add some cool action -- NYC is experiencing a growing amount of "X-Files"-type stuff -- a mounting plague, if you will, and the Turtles could be right in the thick of it. In fact, it could add to Raph's motivation to become Nightwatcher -- he wants to get out there and fight these monsters.) Some of the monsters find their way to WInters' "Trump Tower-like building", and he uses the purpose-built monster containment cells to imprison them until the gateway is completed.

     Near the climax of the movie, when it appears that Yaotl/WInters is on the brink of success, we have the double-cross -- his four Stone Generals decide that they would rather the plague army remain on Earth, and be THEIR army, with which they can wreak havoc and conquest on the world of men.

     3.) I'm still not sold on the idea of Raph somehow being "The Heart of the Warrior", the final piece of the puzzle required to remake or reactivate the gateway. As I mentioned in my last notes (or at least I think I did), there is something distressingly haphazard about using Raph in Yaotl/Winters' plan in this way. Think about it -- if Raph is the only element suitable to fill the slot of "The Heart of the Warrior", how in the world could WInters have ever conceived that he could or would find Raph, especially if there is a time factor involved (i.e. a planetary alignment, or whatever) AND he doesn't even know Raph exists? It's an incredible coincidence as it is that their paths cross.

     I know that this bit -- surprising the audience by turning their expectations upside-down, in this case revealing that what they thought was an OBJECT being sought turns out to be a PERSON -- is very seductive, and I think when carefully planned and thought out, it can be a winner. But then you also run the risk of turning it into something unintentionally silly, as in "The Fifth Element", when that fabled element #5 turns out to be... "love". (I think the first time I saw an attempt at this kind of slight of hand was in the old "STAR TREK" episode where they are on a planet patterned kind of after the Romans, and they keep hearing about people who worship "The Sun", and they think that means the sun in the sky... but then Uhura drops the bomb on them at the very end when she reveals that her analysis of their society shows that it's really the SON (of God).)

     So while I'm not totally opposed to it, I think we're a long way away from a compelling explanation as to why and how Raph can be this "Heart of the Warrior" that Winters needs.

     4.) I was thinking that it might be cool to work the Foot into this movie idea we're working with, and the way I'm seeing that is to use the Foot as "hired guns" that Winters is using to do various things for him (the "fodder" referred to in the outline). This would allow us have some  fun showing the Turtles beating up on some of their classic opponents -- I think the fans would love it.

     And we could have one of the Turtles say in passing (as a way of explaining) that since they killed the Shredder, the Foot has been reduced to hiring out as muscle.

     5.) The more I ponder this plot, the more it is clear to me that we need to flesh out the nature and character(s) of the four Generals, especially as they are when in stone form. Otherwise, their "double-cross" of Winters at the end won't mean a heck of a lot.

     Part of this must be an understanding of what it is like for them to be turned (magically) into beings of stone. How has this affected their minds? Are they immobile stone most of the time? Do they require some kind of magic -- provided by Yaotl/Winters, I would assume -- to become animate? Are they aware and thinking while they are immobile stone? Why, exactly, would they turn on Yaotl/Winters at the end? What does this get them? Do they WANT to remain as they are -- beings of stone? If so, why? 

     (Actually, while I am still not crazy about the "exo-suits" for the stone warriors, I just thought of a POSSIBLE rationale for them: Imagine that when the four Generals are turned to stone, they aren't dead... though to normal eyes, they would seem to be. But, in truth, they ARE alive... but in their new stone forms, they can only move VERY slowly. It takes a year for them to blink, for example. Yaotl/Winters discovered this truth only after many years of observation, and through experimentation and delving into deeper magics, has figured out a way to ACCELERATE the "life cycle" of the stone the warriors are made of now. 

     And part of this technique involves techno-stuff -- the "exo-suits" -- though in what fashion or manner I'm not completely sure of. To riff of something you said in your notes, maybe these "exo-suits" aren't meant to add strength to the Stone Warriors (like your classic exoskeleton combat suit or Power Loader as seen in "Aliens" is meant to do), but instead is some kind of magic pacemaker or circulatory system for some kind of magic whatever which feeds magic stuff into these Stone Warriors at a rate which allows them to be animate. Actually, that builds into them a vulnerability which we could exploit if needed during a fight -- some of their tubes or conduits or whatever could be damaged, which would slow them down or stop them altogether.)

-- Pete

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"GOLDEN DREAMS: The Art of Ruth Sanderson"

(Note: This is not TMNT-related, but for a little bit of extra exposure, I am posting it here as well as on palblog. -- PL)

I've admired Ruth Sanderson's beautifully-painted fantasy artwork for quite a few years, but only got to know her recently. Over ice cream cones at the local sweet shop near her studio in Easthampton, MA, Ruth told me about her plans to self-publish a hardcover volume reproducing much of that artwork in a retrospective of her more than thirty-five years as an illustrator. The book will be titled "GOLDEN DREAMS: The Art of Ruth Sanderson", and Ruth has begun a "Kickstarter" campaign to get this project rolling. You can find it here:

It looks like this will be a gorgeous book, and there are also some nice goodies associated with the various pledge levels, including at the higher end some original paintings! I've just signed up, and hope you will as well. -- PL

Friday, June 14, 2013

Blast from the Past #649: February 8, 2005: PL notes on Imagi movie treatment first draft 12/24/04

Subj: movie stuff
Date: Thursday, February 8, 2005 9:29:56 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe

PL notes on Imagi movie treatment first draft 12/24/04

Regarding this treatment, here's the big picture from my point of view: There are a number of things in this treatment that I think are very cool, exciting, and worthy of inclusion in the movie, but probably an equal or slightly greater number of things that I don't care for and wouldn't want to have in the movie. I will try to be as specific as appropriate as I go through, referencing specific language in the treatment, but will also make some general comments.

Here goes!

1.) Re: the following: 

"We’ll establish a TURTLES MARTIAL ARTS STYLE – a style that, while grounded in traditional martial arts, will take advantage of the physiology of the Turtles – claws, shells for offensive and defensive maneuvers, non-human movements and also giving each brother distinctive physical mannerisms and fighting styles."

Most of the above I have no problem with, and in fact think it's very cool, but the mention of "claws" gives me pause. While real turtles do in fact have claws, our mutant Turtles have never had them -- and I think we should stick with that, as including actual biological claws would be a significant design/conceptual shift that does not appeal to me.

2.) I think the different locations of Leo's "tests" as laid out in the beginning of the treatment (Act 1) are very cool, and offer some great opportunity for wonderful visuals, especially the South American setting, for at least two reasons: One, if we go with the general thrust of the plot as laid out in the treatment (and I'm not necessarily saying that we SHOULD, but IF...), it might make for a nice and effective foreshadowing of the rest of the story, and two, I think that the Turtles work really well in a jungle/deep woods setting -- a lot of neat visual stuff could be done with their green coloration blending in with the flora, their shell textures (rain dripping off them), and so on.
The one caveat I have about my comment here is that showing too many of Leo's "tests" might be too much -- and more than this South American test might turn out to be too many. For storytelling/pacing purposes, we might be "gilding the lily" by including too many visuals of Leo's different tests.

3.) The "secret identity" that Raphael has as "Nightwatcher" is interesting. I will reserve judgment as to whether or not I think it works, until I see more development of it. One BIG part of whether it will work, in my opinion, is what the actual visual (i.e. Raph's costume) would look like. I don't have a clear idea from what is in the treatment, but it would have to be very cool for it to work for me.
One thing to perhaps keep in mind is that in the new TV show, we have established Mike as the Turtle who wants to be a "superhero" or costumed avenger. (He became the "Turtle Titan" in several episodes.) His superhero thing was mostly played for laughs in the TV show, so it might not be appropriate to the angsty needs of this movie treatment, but if we think it's desirable to keep some continuity between TV and movie, it's worth keeping in mind.
Also, while in this treatment Mike is "moonlighting" as a Barney-type "Mr. Turtle" kids' party character, in one of the previous live action movie scripts we worked on we had Raphael doing something similar (in fact, I think that's where this idea originated). While it's not inappropriate to use Mike in this way, I always liked the idea of Raph doing it, as it seemed so out of character for him -- it would take all of his (limited) patience to deal with the human rugrats at these parties, which could lead to some funny bits when he loses it. It would also possibly work for the story being told if Raph needs some extra reason to get so fed up with the life he's leading that he needs some kind of big change.

4.) Most of the problems I have with this treatment are centered on the character of Joe (the museum guy), the kid (Bella) and the nature/backstory of the ancient warrior statues, and many of the following comments will deal with these.

5.) Re: the following:

"The Four Warriors have HIGH TECH ROBOTIC EXO-SKELETONS surrounding their hulking bodies."

This confused me -- I thought these were ANCIENT warriors. Where did these "HIGH TECH ROBOTIC EXO-SKELETONS" come from? Not that it wouldn't look neat, but it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

6.) Re: the following:

"Splinter returns to the room, with an ancient scroll. Tells the BACKSTORY OF THE VILLAIN – we’ll show this in a highly stylized Madhouse anime-style, or perhaps more graphic 3D style. Big epic battle scenes."

It seems odd to me that Splinter would have an "ancient scroll" which dealt with an obscure aspect of South American history. Not IMPOSSIBLE, certainly, but unlikely. Unless...

... years ago, my brother Don and I had an idea we were going to collaborate on (which we unfortunately never did) which was based on the following "what if?" scenario: What if, sometime during the period when the Aztecs ruled Mesoamerica, a traveler (in our idea, a samurai) had found his way across the Pacific Ocean in some manner of craft (perhaps deliberately exploring, perhaps accidentally blown there via some great storm), and washed up on a beach in what is now Mexico... bringing with him the secret of Japanese steel, something that, if spread throughout the Aztec Empire, would almost certainly have turned history on its head -- one of the reasons Cortez was able to overpower a vastly numerically superior Aztec army was that the Spaniards had steel armor and blades, whereas the Aztecs did not (their most deadly hand weapons were edged with razor-sharp obsidian (volcanic glass) -- good against flesh, but not so good against steel). If the Aztecs had had weapons and armor of steel, they may have been able to resist Cortez's aggression, and thus the whole history of that part of the world would have been changed.

I'm not exactly sure how this could be worked into this story, but it might be fun to throw it into the mix, especially as it keeps a Japanese element in this "mysterious history" bit (which nicely dovetails with the Turtles' and Splinter's Japanese-related origin stories) and makes it more plausible that Splinter might have a scroll which dealt with this secret, almost legendary, history. It would also offer some intriguing visual possibilities -- imagine Aztec warriors outfitted with a combination of samurai weapons and armor blended with Aztec style. Perhaps it is not just one samurai who arrives in Mesoamerica, but a small army of them -- maybe a feudal warlord fleeing a Shogun's wrath. Or he could have been tasked BY a Shogun to travel across the Pacific to find new lands to conquer. And maybe it is Aztec blood-magic (fueled by human sacrifice?) that defeats this army of samurai and turns them into cursed zombie warriors or whatever.

7.) Re: the following:

"Suddenly a LITTLE GIRL – BELLA, 10 – comes to visit her Grandfather. (Joe) She’s spunky and cute as a button. Even Raph can’t help but slightly grin at her personality. Joe loves her dearly. As Joe ushers her away from the statues, Raph slips off into the night.
Nightwatcher and Joe will eventually form a relationship..."

As it stands right now, the character of the cute little kid Bella seems shoehorned in for no particular reason. Maybe with further development it will make sense to have her in the story, but right now it does nothing for me... as does the idea that Raph and "Joe" develop  a relationship. 

8.) Re: the following:

"Later that night, the Warriors return to the Museum. Dark and cool. The LEADER WARRIOR (more ornately decorated) walks to the center of the room. They all stand, heads bowed. Soon the FLOOR LOWERS BELOW THEM – shaped like part of an ancient symbol on the marble floor. Takes them to an UNDERGROUND LAIR. The floor lowers a few stories into the NATURAL CATACOMBS OF UNDERGROUND NYC… only here they are like a modern-day, hi-tech James Bond villain headquarters."

This is about where this premise started to go wrong, at least for me. I'm not digging the whole "underground James Bond-type lair" bit -- it really stretches credulity.

9.) Re: the following:

Joe is pleased as he turns to admire the diamond. We start to think that, as Splinter feared, he’s the villain and trying to resurrect the army. But then we’ll realize that Joe is the latest descendant of Miguel Valdez! But he has been gathering these elements so that he can free the trapped souls of Valdez’s army – a curse bestowed upon every generation of Valdez since Miguel centuries ago. The ceremony is in repentance for his family’s past wrongs – and now it is a chance to make good on old sins. He’s actually a good guy with good intentions! "

I like a good "twist" as much as the next guy, but I think we need to be very careful with our bad guys. Let's not get too tricky/confusing with the motivations. I think we really need to spend some serious time working out exactly WHO is evil and WHAT the reasons are for these mysterious warriors to be coming to "life" in the present. RIght now, it all seems kind of murky and confused to me. Also, we should be careful about making our main villains motivations actually seem like a GOOD thing (i.e. lifting a curse), as that makes them seem less appropriate as targets for the Turtles. And we should also keep in mind that two HUGE movies of recent vintage ("Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Return of the King") BOTH had "cursed armies seeking redemption through lifting of the curse" plot elements. If we go with a curse idea, I'd like to have it be something that would result in the UNLEASHING of evil on the world.

There's also a problem with the nature of Joe's "curse" as one of "every generation of Valdez since Miguel centuries ago". What seems to be happening here is that "every generation of Valdez since Miguel centuries ago" is "cursed" to find some artifacts. That doesn't seem like much of a curse -- in fact, it just seems like people doing good deeds trying to right a past wrong -- unless there's more to it than is said here. Are the members of "every generation of Valdez since Miguel centuries ago" plagued with hideous nightmares, visited by plagues of bodily injuries (boils, mysterious stigmata-like cuts, etc.), tormented by spectral voices, etc.? As it stands now, whatever "curse" there is seems pretty mild.

10.) Re: the following:

"Raph returns to the museum as Nightwatcher to investigate the Warrior Statues. They’re still frozen in the center of the Tribal Wing – without their cyber-accents. He approaches the statues… tense… scary and still. He doesn’t see the CREEPY HAND lift up behind his shoulder as – WHAM - Nightwatcher comes face to face with the old man Joe for the first time.  Fake scare. Joe introduces himself to The Nightwatcher. Raph questions him about the statues. We see their friendship start to grow. Joe is a really nice guy. He purposely fills Raph’s head with more stories of Warriors and Heroes – this will be a growing beat, as Raph will be swayed closer and closer to solo-heroism."

I'm not loving this whole Raph/Joe bit, as it just doesn't FEEL right to me. If there is going to be a relationship between these two characters, I think there needs to be more of a good reason for it. Right now I don't see it.

11.) Re: the following:

"The high tech exo-skeletons are reattached to the Warriors once they are lowered. Joe removes his “remote” and ACTIVATES THE FOUR WARRIORS. Through the machinery, they are given life once again. He tells them it is time for the second piece to be collected."

This paragraph sort of sums up my major problems with the stone warriors concept -- it just doesn't make much sense. Where does Joe get these "high tech exo-skeletons"? Why do they need to be put on these warriors to activate them, to give them "life once again"? What possible connection could ancient curses have to high-tech? Again, while visually intriguing, it seems like a bunch of disparate elements mushed together for no particular reason.

12.) Re: the following:

"Raph sees escape at a parking garage. But as they circle up the structure, the Warrior EXPLODES UP through each level! Mikey screams like a little girl. They end on the top floor… and Raph decides to take the chase to the ROOFTOPS OF NEW YORK CITY! "

Two major problems here. FIrst is the SUPER Warrior -- WAY too powerful! Nice visual, but essentially the story ends here if we have adversaries with this level of strength who could turn the Turtles into green pulp without much effort.
Second -- and I know we had a short bit in our CGI short that had Raph jumping a dirt bike from one building to another -- I have a significant problem with the idea of a lengthy chase across "the ROOFTOPS OF NEW YORK CITY" with Raph and Mike jumping multiple times from one roof to another. We cheated a bit with that scene in our CGI short, and doing it multiple times would be REALLY unrealistic. 

13.) Re: the following:

"Joe quickly grabs a remote, and DE-ACTIVATES the Warriors. "

Any villains which can be deactivated with a remote control are not terribly threatening. And I still don't get how ancient warriors cursed by Aztecs can be turned off with a remote control.

14.) Re: the following:

"Bella is just about to leave the museum. She sees Nightwatcher. Raph is caught –can’t move. Bella treats him like he isn’t a freak. Hits Raph hard – he’s speechless. Joe smiles. This is the reason he’s doing this. He looks at Raph, knowing that he is the final piece. "

Bella stills seems like "the cute kid" who is shoehorned into the plot so that we can have a cute kid. And I don't understand what is meant by that last line.

15.) Re: the following:

"Later that night, Leo is practicing on a rooftop near the sewer entrance. He sees a SILHOUETTE on the horizon, leaping toward him. Leo hides as suddenly NIGHTWATCHER APPEARS! Leo tries to approach him, wanting to know if Nightwatcher knows anything about the robberies, half-expecting him to be behind them. Nightwatcher (Raph) freezes… then bolts! Leo immediately gives chase.
Pulse-pounding chase through the streets, tops of moving cars, etc. Thick Frank Miller-type pouring rain. The two fight, brother vs. brother. Leo turns the tables and, with a blade at Nightwatcher’s throat, takes off his mask revealing RAPH!
Raph gets defensive. Leo gets mad at his brother’s petulance. They fight on the roof top. Rain pours harder. They arrive at a point with a katana at Raph’s throat and two sais at Leo’s. They calm down."

There are some neat visuals in these scenes, but not a whole lot of logic. I think Leo would know right away, just through body shape and movements, that "Nightwatcher" is Raph. And their fight is just goofy and poorly motivated.

16.) Re: the following:

"The boys are getting ready to leave for the Warehouse. Leo doesn’t say anything about Raph’s secret."

This doesn't make sense -- why are ALL of them getting ready to leave for the warehouse if they don't all know about Raph's secret? Are Mike and Don just going along, acting on blind faith that it's a good idea?

17.) Re: the following:

"Mikey and Don find the painting in a CRATE. Pry it open and see it’s a majestic painting of a rugged soldier, circa 1730 or so. Dark and moody. Leo and Raph show up as the four discover IT’S A TRAP!"

WHY is it a trap? If (as it turns out in another few paragraphs) Raph, himself, is actually the "Heart of the Warrior", and Joe needs him to complete the ritual, why go through all this nonsense? Why didn't Joe just have the Warriors grab Raph the last time he was in the museum?

18.) Re: the following:

Lights click on as Raph realizes he’s in a makeshift gladiator arena, constructed in a sealed off level of the warehouse. A door begins to OPEN. He flips to his feet and poses for battle… but it’s not the Warriors he’s fighting…
A HORRIBLE ANCIENT CREATURE emerges from the wall! It’s adorned with HIGH TECH EXOSKELETON – looks like a cybernetic Giger-designed rhinoceros. Its power is a CAMOUFLAGE PROGRAM, allowing it to hide until the proper moment to viciously attack Raph. The Warriors retreat to the darkness as the battle begins.  It’s a big destructive battle, but Raph emerges victorious using his ninja smarts… barely hanging onto consciousness.
The Four Warriors arrive in the room! Raph is too beaten to put up a fight. It looks bad for him as JOE WALKS INTO THE ROOM. He’s so happy that Raphael passed this final test. Joe tells him that he’s about to be part of something huge. Something that will allow Joe’s granddaughter to live a life of peace.
Then it hits Raph – “…I’m… I’m the Heart of the Warrior.”  Joe smiles.  He tells Raph what defines the Heart of the Warrior – he’s basically a HERO, but with such FOCUS on his end goal, that he loses sight of the world between his state and his goal. It’s a fault, “but an admirable one.”
It hits Raph that that’s what he’s become. A Warrior when he set out to be a HERO.
Raph asks what will happen to him. The Warriors drag him away as it becomes very clear that Joe had no clue that Raph was to be SACRIFICED! "

Interesting, cool visual -- but again, makes not a whole lot of sense. A "HORRIBLE ANCIENT CREATURE... adorned with HIGH TECH EXOSKELETON – looks like a cybernetic Giger-designed rhinoceros"... WTF?! Where are all these high tech accouterments coming from? This "test" seems like a pretty flimsy excuse to have another fight scene.
There's some kind of neat idea in the concept of someone's inner strength of character (in this case Raph's) being revealed as a "Macguffin" like "the heart of the warrior", but it's not really done too well here.

19.) Re: the following:

"They’re confident they’ve stopped the theft of the Heart of the Warrior. Then Don discovers something – multiple layers of the painting. Either scraping off a layer or by using some special camera, he can see paintings of other warriors in the past – each one traveling further and further back in history. Like they were chronicling something…
Splinter and Leo realize at the same time… “…Raph is the Heart of the Warrior”. Everyone’s faces fall… bad things are about to happen. They just delivered the final piece."

I'm totally confused by this. How does the fact that Don uses some technique to see multiple hidden layers in this painting have ANYTHING to do with a realization by Splinter and Leo that "Raph is the Heart of the Warrior”? I mean, for one thing, they don't even know where Raph is! Mere moments ago, Leo was theorizing that Raph must have "just slipped away selfishly". There seems to me to be NO connection whatsoever between what is shown in the painting(s) and what is happening with Raph (whatever that is, and at this point, none of them know!).

20.) Re: the following:

"They know what they must do… The boys gather a full arsenal of weapons - different than the ones they normally use as well – a mixture of old-fashioned ones with newer inventions from Donnie."

Again, logic problems. HOW do they "know what they must do"? And why does that involve betting together a bunch of different weapons? (Not that I am opposed to the idea of the Turtles using different weapons -- in fact, I'm in favor of it -- but it should be for a good reason. As far as I can tell right now, all they know is that Raph is missing. How does that translate into equipping themselves with all kinds of different weapons?

21.) Re: the following:

"Big ceremonial scene as we see the Four Warriors have transformed the main area of the Met to an Ancient Tribal Palace… only powered by high tech equipment in the absence of magic. A large CEREMONIAL DOORWAY ARCH is in the middle of the room. Its core is an ancient stone sculpture, but it is supported and hardwired by millennium-era technology. Again, bridging that gap between mysticism and modern day."

I'm still totally in the dark about this "high tech" bit and why these ancient warriors are involved with it. I know it would look cool, but it just doesn't make any sense to me.

22.) Re: the following:

The Turtles get out just in time to see the Museum crumble to the ground.
The Four Warriors emerge as well. Throw their arms up, as if to command an army. Then… behind them… a HOLE IN THE GROUND… as THOUSANDS OF STONE SOLDIERS POUR OUT OF THE HOLE! They scurry like the scarabs from The Mummy along the street, sides of buildings, everywhere. Ready for attack! Chaos.
After a tense standoff, the three Turtles and Splinter take on the army. We finally see a large scale battle between the Turtles and a HORDE of creatures, attacking all at once! "

Several things here. I think it's perhaps a BIT too much to have the museum "crumble to the ground" -- for one thing, I don't see WHY it would. 
I think the image of the hordes of soldiers emerging like the scarab beetles in "The Mummy" is cool (obviously one of the things that can be done so well in CG), and in fact it put me in mind of a great scene from an old Jack Kirby comic -- I think it was "New Gods" -- wherein the evil Mantis leads hordes of insect-like humanoids who crawl up the sides of buildings.
I think this kind of thing -- huge army against five heroes -- only works if we have a logical and compelling way for the heroes to defeat the army. We should be very careful not to make this seem silly.

23.) Re: the following:

"We discover that Joe is being kept alive by his own EXO-SKELETON, hidden under his clothes. He’s spent the past decades trying to stay alive and end this curse for the sake of Bella. He ends up taking off his own exo-skeleton support system and placing it on Raphael – bringing him back to life!
In his dying breath, Joe clutches a photo of Bella. He tells Raph to “finish this”… not just for her, but for the world. Raph knows what he must do. He’s not a warrior… HE’S A HERO.
Raph steps out in the streets filled with mayhem. He looks like half-Turtle, half-Terminator."

I fail to see how an exo-skeleton can bring Raph back to life. I mean, just a few paragraphs ago, he was killed. Dead. This is starting to get really goofy. And while the image of a Turtle Terminator is somewhat intriguing, in this context it makes not a whole lot of sense.

24.) Re: the following:

"During the battle, Mikey keeps on getting calls from their Temp Agent Mitzy who is convinced they’re moonlighting for someone else. “I can hear your party in the background! Are you working for Jeannie Templeton?! Why that conniving little…”"

I have to say that this bit had me reaching for my barf bag.

25.) Re: the following:

"The Leader Warrior is furious. He and his three partners MELD TOGETHER to form a Mighty Joe Young-sized creature. They square off against Raphael. Leo tries to help Raph, but then stops himself. Raph says he can handle this. So for the first time, Leo steps back… just as a good leader should every now and again.
…as Raphael proceeds to rip this creature apart limb from limb. In a final blow, the Warrior Creature is blasted into a thousand pieces, red light shooting out of it!

ON STREETS – One by one, the thousands of soldiers FREEZE WHERE THEY ARE. All is quiet. Until…
Slowly at first, a swirling begins in the sky. Then a BRIGHT LIGHT shines down upon the darkened city. Then… one by one… we see the most beautiful sight of all… the souls of thousands of soldiers leaving their stone prisons and ascending into the afterlife with their loved ones. In the spirit form, we see the Soldiers as the men they once were. The Curse of Valdez finally broken."

One of the things I really dislike in modern movies is the introduction of some special powers or abilities (for either hero or villain) that are not even hinted at throughout the movie, coming out of left field at some late point in the story just to solve some plot point or set up some new action sequence. This transformation of the Warriors is one such thing. 
And although it's sweet -- and I'm a sucker for sentimentality as much as the next guy -- the whole "redemption of the army through the destruction of the Warriors" bit seems like yet another "deus ex machina" solution to the central problem of the plot, coming out of nowhere, with no set up.
And I also find it hard to believe that, even with an exoskeleton (even one of those "it wasn't made for you, probably doesn't fit, and you don't know how to use it -- but somehow you can put it on BY YOURSELF within minutes and have it transform you into a Turtle Terminator"-type exoskeletons), Raph can tear this Mighty Joe Young-sized multi-Warrior thing limb from limb.

26.) Re: the following:

"And finally, Raph’s body is lifted into the air. Blue swirls around him. His exo-skeleton is ripped off! The spirits of thousands of warriors shoot through him as he is GIVEN LIFE AGAIN."

This is wicked cheesy. And let me see if I get this right -- all this time Raph was fighting inside his new exoskeleton, he was still DEAD???!!!

27.) Re: the following:

"They run over and see a NEWSCAST. The reporter talks of the strange phenomena that occurred today and the damage to part of downtown. She continues by showing a BLURRED SECURITY CAM PHOTOGRAPH of FOUR SILHOUETTES leaping through the air. Weapons clearly outlined. It’s THE TURTLES. Witnesses talk about strangers helping during the strange ordeal."

Given that this final battle took place OUTSIDE in the center of New York City, I think there would have been a heck of a lot more than one blurred security camera photo of the Turtles. This is a problem, and we should try to keep the Turtles from being exposed in this way... UNLESS that exposure is an important part of the plot.


Okay, now that I've read this thing through a couple more times, I have to say that my initial feelings about it have not changed. There are some interesting concepts, and in general the characters of the Turtles and Splinter are pretty much right on, but the story as a whole is not one I care for. I think there are way too many logic and plot holes. I like the idea of incorporating ideas from Mesoamerican culture/history, as that is a rich vein which has not even begun to be tapped in any significant way in the movies... but the way it is done here is lacking.
I also confess to a lot of ambivalence about Raph as "Nightwatcher". There is something interesting there, but also something really cheesy.

-- Pete