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

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