SA man reboots heroes in a half shell

2014-08-03 15:00

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South African-born director Jonathan Liebesman says fans of the TV cartoon hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles won’t be disappointed by his take on the “heroes in a half shell” because he’s a fan himself.

Seeing footage from the film?– which opens in US theatres on Friday?–?at the massive Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego last week was a childhood dream come true for Liebesman.

As a teenager in Johannesburg, he directed his friends in home movies playing turtle heroes Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo.

Liebesman was brought on board by producer Michael Bay in 2012 and the film has been met with criticism from fans for the turtles’ look and the movie story line.

But Kevin Eastman, who ­co-created the comic book series, says working with Liebesman has been “awesome”.

“From day one he called me in and said: ‘Look, I want to tell the best story with all the comedy and action, but I don’t want to take anything away from the heart and soul of what the fans love and embrace,’” he says.

Eastman still cannot believe how the series has spread and grown across the world.

“When we did the first comic book, we never thought we’d sell even one copy in the US. Now it’s all over the world.

“I remember going to France for the first time and seeing the promotion for the first movie at the Eiffel Tower?–?it was freaky, cool, scary and exciting.”

The live-action reboot, starring Megan Fox as reporter April O’Neil and Will Arnett as her cameraman, uses eye-popping technology to bring the turtles to life.

It’s a system of facial capture advancement designed by Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas?–?and it’s more hi-tech than ever before.

Liebesman says this is the first time in film history that eye, teeth and even tongue movement is captured.

“The technology they were using was a lot more challenging and took a long time to research, so by the time we got to the set, it was sort of user- friendly,” he says.

“For Planet of the Apes you have apes, you have a?reference in real life for the animators as artists. In a way, what’s difficult for our film is there are no [real] ninja turtles.”

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