The release of the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on DVD was much like any such release – different disc formats and variant covers graced the shelves of retailers nationwide. But, while not every release goes above and beyond for fans and consumers (though most do), this movie included several amazing extra features that gave an exclusive look at certain aspects of the process for creating the film. If you are a regular reader of fan sites, message boards, and news articles, then you likely stayed up-to-date as the film was proceeding. But there’s still something special about hearing about the movie straight from the production crew’s collective mouths.
One special feature involved a short segment on the men in motion capture, and the process of bringing the turtles to life. Titled “It Ain’t Easy Being Green,” and focused mainly on the motion-capture suit actors, this extra showcased how the boys adapted to their new roles, some of the trials and tribulations of filming so awkwardly in NYC, and how much they resembled their characters by the time the whole thing wrapped. All four actors were big turtle fans growing up, with plenty of toys and cartoon viewing to make sure that they were well versed in the franchise before ever coming to the movie. “I have lots of childhood photos of a very small me running around with Ninja Turtle shirts on,” said Noel Fisher (Michelangelo).
The featurette then proceeded to discuss the perfect casting decisions for the boys, including what they brought to the characters; the issues of shooting in New York City with a constant barrage of sights, sounds, and people; how amazing the set worked for these characters and their personalities; and the bonding experience that the film became for the four gentlemen cast as Ninja Turtles. Overall, it provided a great sneak peek behind the scenes of the film with the actors who brought the beloved heroes to life.
Since it was a rather short look (running only 6:47), the feature left something to be desired of the grand experience for which it whetted the appetite. While not everyone’s cup of tea, behind the scenes features are most often designed to reflect well on the cast, crew, executives, etc. Rarely will there be a negative aspect showcased or discussed, though they likely exist. While certainly fans don’t need to know every gory detail or thrive on the misfortunes of filming, when everything is presented as rainbows and unicorns on set it takes away from the veracity of what the actors are saying. Combine that with the short run time – which really can include barely any footage/commentary – and suddenly the feature isn’t quite enough to really show fans what goes on behind the scenes. After all the negative publicity surrounding the film early on following Michael Bay and rewrites and reshoots, a bit more of this sort of extra (specifically showing things with the turtles and their development off-screen) would have been greatly appreciated.
While certainly not the only extra on the Blu-ray version (and the others will be reviewed in the coming weeks), “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” gave a short, sweet look into how the suit actors bonded and became their turtles in such a short time. It may have benefitted from a little bit more substance, but certainly this type of feature is appreciated and gives the entire film a much fuller development. Hopefully the sequel’s release will include even more like this.