You could be forgiven for not having heard of Turbo Kid. It premièred at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and received a modest release later on in August.
I must admit that I had never heard of Turbo Kid before stumbling across it whilst browsing Netflix for something to watch with a bucket o’ popcorn and a cuddle with the guinea pigs on the sofa.
Although I like to know what I’m getting in for most of the time, occasionally I love just watching something and knowing nothing about what I’m getting myself into. It’s a gamble, you may well end up seeing your new favourite film, or something that will change your outlook on life. Or it can make you rue the day you ever saw the words nine and months.
Turbo Kid, I am pleased to announce was a very pleasant success.
Set in an alternative, post apocalyptic 1997. The story revolves around one teenager and his bike (he’s only ever referred to as The Kid) trying to salvage as much scrap from The Wasteland that his now his home as possible so he can make the trip to the town and trade it all for a bottle of (very murky) water.
When taking a moment out of his subsistence to revel in being a kid by sitting on a swing and reading a comic he encounters a young lady called Apple, a slightly simple, well meaning and kinda sweet girl, who befriends The Kid immediately. Despite his initial resistance to company, her persistence brings about a companionship between the two .
Together they end up embroiled in a plot by the evil Zeus, the one eyed owner and leader of the town, as well as the aforementioned water) to get water from new sources, adventure ensues.
I loved this film, from the beginning it has an amazing sense of nostalgia. From what I’ve learnt of the internet this is something called New Retro. A brand new genre which is innovative and new, but at the same time referencing (predominantly) the 80s and 90s. I think this image pretty much sums things up
Remember all those great kids adventure films from the 80s? Labyrinth, The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, Never Ending Story. All of those were great and you can see their influence in Turbo Kid. You can also tell that other post apocalyptic films like Mad Max have been a massive influence on the design with some of the costumes looking like they stepped straight from Mel Gibson’s side.
As part of the new wave of new retro movies, there is a great sense of nostalgia for the 80s and 90s, yet it manages to be fresh and new enough to not just feel like a pastiche or a satire. At times it feels like it’s walking a tightrope between loving homage to the action and adventure movies of old and a satire (a la Kung Fury). For me, it was this tightrope that really drew me into the film. Sometimes it felt like it was swerving towards parody and other times you could feel the love for those old movies shining through as the directors re-create their own story in that style. Sometimes it almost feels like three kids (There are three directors; François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell) using a dad’s camcorder in the backyard playing at being film maker makers, though very good ones with a much bigger budget.
The violence gives it an 18 certificate, and this is well deserved. The violence is bloody, gory and quite graphic at times. There’s blood spurting everywhere, guts get pulled out, limbs get chopped off, and there’s even a guy with a circular saw for a hand.
With all this violence and gore being thrown about with gay abandon it never goes too far with it. They always manage to stop just short of you getting bored of it.
On a side note, I must applaud the directors for going down the route of physical effects rather than CGI, not only does it look great, but it all adds to the nostalgic feeling that really makes this film great. I love real life effects, they make it feel tangible and much more scrungy than if it was CGI.
By the end of the film’s conclusion I found that I had a love for the characters. This was a slow builder with the relationship between the two protagonists building up over the course of the movie, and by the end you just love them.
The last thing I’m going to mention is the soundtrack. Jean-Philippe Bernier and Jean-Nicolas Leupi were in charge of this, and I have to say they did an amazing job. Like the rest of the film It harks back to a simpler times when synthesizers were just a keyboard a few fancy buttons. Yet they also manage to keep it modern and fresh. I’ll be honest here and say that I would listen to the score on my iPod on the way to work.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie. If you love violence, if you love nostalgia, if you love synthy music, if you love a good love story, or just like a good post apocalyptic romp with daft costumes and gore you’ll love this. Go see it on Netflix before it gets taken off. Go. Now!