TBT Review: ‘Turbo Kid’ Bleeds in Excellent Fashion
Brutal | Nostalgic | Creative
The 1980’s were 30 years ago. That’s kind of crazy when you think about it, and the only pieces of history we have left over are old memorabilia and entertainment sources. There are still nightclubs and social organizations that celebrate the 80’s vibrant innovations and over-the-edge shocks to culture, which still ripple through our society to this day. So much so that the 80’s can never be forgotten, but they can also never be recreated or revived to a level of 100%. What can be done is exactly what the creators of “Turbo Kid” have done, which is inject as many 80’s troupes and vibes into a film, making it an excellent homage to some very creative days of filmmaking.
Cinematics – 3.5
From the opening voiceover that just screams “80’s!” all the way to the sad ending, you know you’re going on a ride that hasn’t been seen on film in a long time. Films like “Kung Fury” capture the same essence that “Turbo Kid” does, but the latter does so on a more authentic scale. How they do it is by starting out with an introduction a wonderful apocalyptic world, entitled “The Wasteland,” while we meet the hero of our story, whose name is simply, “The Kid” (played by Munro Chambers).
We watch The Kid scavenge The Wasteland and go through his every day routine, ending with him utilizing his findings in very fun ways, especially when he makes a weapon using two hammers and roll of duct tape. The audience immediately feels like they are a part of the universe and back in the 80’s, which can be accredited to the attention to detail the creators had with the film’s artistic design and creativity. Simple things like the characters using VHS tapes as firewood and the cheap-looking special effects are great touches, keeping the audience in this amazingly put together universe and the incredibly vibrant troupes of an 80’s classic alive.
Aspects that deserve a more detailed conversation are the costumes, characters, acting, music, cinematography, artistic design, and chemistry… so pretty much everything that makes a movie. In all honesty, this whole movie is well done. There’s a set of fantastic villains, complete with costumes/attire that will give some small children nightmares. The film’s soundtrack strengthens everything about the universe; especially keeping the strong 80’s troupes pumping through the film’s veins. The subplot between The Kid and his robotic sidekick Apple (played by Laurence Leboeuf) is the sweet cherry on top of the sundae. Their chemistry is what makes their storyline thrive, but Leboeuf’s performance is what truly shines above anything else in the film.
Sidetracking to talk about the lovely character Apple: While I wish the film dove into her backstory a little bit more, she’s a hilarious three-dimensional character who helps keep the film’s innocence and charm. She commands the screen every time she makes an appearance, and seeing her tag-team with The Kid creates incredible sympathy for the duo, making rooting for them a very easy thing to do. Their quiet scenes after the many moments of chaotic action add a heartwarming sensation that will surely put smiles on many faces. I’m serious when I say the chemistry between these two is so strong it just drips with ”God, just kiss her!” from the first minute.
Other than Leboeuf’s performance, everyone does an excellent job keeping their characters rich, alive and true to the story, especially Munro Chambers as The Kid. Every great story needs an empathetic protagonist, and while you’ll be feeling more sympathy than empathy with The Kid, Chambers creates a classic hero that leads us through a blood-riddled adventure. Bravo to him for strapping the story to his back. The film’s charm, strength and pace would not be as great with out this piece of young talent. Lovable but sad is the best way to describe The Kid, so get ready to have your emotions rocked by Mr. Chambers. Personally though, Apple is my favorite part about this movie, and that’s saying something since the bleak but vibrant artistic design is enough to get me to watch this movie again. Yet just like every piece of art out there, there were still some aspects about it that I couldn’t find myself to forgive.
Great dialogue, characters, actor chemistry and cinematography will not save a movie that has logistical issues. I know one can argue that many, many 80’s films were riddled with plot-holes and character flaws, giving them their “cult” charm, but there were too many times during “Turbo Kid” where I stopped to ask myself how/why something happened or how it worked out the way that it did. The main one happens right after the break into Act II, when the three principle characters are caught in the clutches of the main antagonist, Zeus (played by Michael Ironside). The main trio fights off Zeus’ minions in excellent fashion, but then The Kid uses his Turbo Glove to destroy Zeus’ water-fabricating contraption. This causes a small explosion and a decent fire, but in comparison to the warehouse the scene takes place in, it’s an unsubstantial distraction. Yet, the main trio is able to walk out without running into any trouble at all. Seriously, the explosion occurs, one of the characters lazily removes some bars from a conveniently placed staircase, and they leave. It was very anti-climatic for the scene, and you’ll find other examples that didn’t help the film logistically, so much so that it’s the main reason for this section’s 3.5 rating.
Entertainment Value – 4
While I already talked about my admiration for Apple and her storyline with The Kid, this film’s excellent villains are a pleasure to watch as they wreck havoc across the post-apocalyptic land, and the film’s random bits of humor provide some excellent comic relief. Yes, just like a good old 80’s B-movie, there are several humorous moments that come off as random at first but definitely fit the film’s troupes and universe. An aspect of the humor that was particularly enjoyable, for me at least, was the excessive amounts of blood used during the 90-minute runtime. Many will probably find the amount unnecessary, and while I do agree that it is kind of much at a moment or two, all of the blood, gore and violence is done in a very tasteful way, keeping everything true to the universe we have been sucked into.
Do not get me wrong, just because I find the violence tasteful doesn’t mean it is appropriate for all ages. THIS MOVIE IS VERY BLOODY AND VERY BRUTAL. You may not believe me because the film has “kid” in the title, but when I say I grimaced a few times because of the film’s brutality, I absolutely mean it. The “gutting” scene is the perfect example of this.
All in all, I did enjoy this movie. I wish there weren’t so many logistical issues, like how Turbo Kid doesn’t recognize Zeus as the one who killed his parents, how Turbo Kid is able to take off the “robot armband” in the end when Apple told him he wasn’t able to take it off at all, and how “Turbo Rider” (Turbo Kid’s favorite comic book hero) came into existence as a REAL person or… I don’t know. It’s a weird and confusing scene when The Kid finds a dead Turbo Rider. Anyways, simple explanations would’ve helped these issues, but they didn’t completely ruin the film. The blood and violence became pieces of comic relief in the end, and the sad/open for a sequel ending is the perfect dash of “finish” on an overall good experience.
Re-Watchability – 3
I would definitely re-watch “Turbo Kid,” but I believe it would only happen for one of two reasons. Number one being a viewing to see if I missed small explanations for some of the logistical issues, and number two being a viewing to show my friends a good old fashioned blood-fest of an 80’s movie. The film deserves all the praise it has gotten at the independent film festivals, and it already seems to have taken the title of “fan favorite” on Netflix. Hope to see a sequel in the near future.
- Entertainment Value
Blood. Gore. Laughs. Tears. Robot sidekick. One-handed cowboy. Excellent villains. Cheesy special effects. A wonderful wasteland that is full of post-apocalyptic greatness. All these describe “Tubro Kid” and the great homage to an 80’s cult classic that it is. Even though there are several logistic issues that ruined parts of the film for me, the attention to detail and full immersion into the film’s universe will mask all the negatives. Give this one a watch, but please be aware of the film's extreme violence, almost to the point where a lot of people will find the blood and gore excessive.