Kimo Stamboel's video game adaptation is a creepy thrill ride, just as much as it is a confrontation of the present and a Gothic Indonesian past.
A first-person shooter inside an action film inside a sci-fi story inside a whole lot of fun.
Turbo Kid. 2015. Directed/Written by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, & Yoann-Karl Whissell.
Starring Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, and Romano Orzari. Epic Pictures Group/Timpson Films.
Rated R. 93 minutes.
Always interesting to see the different 1980s (& further) throwbacks coming out now over the past 8 years or so since Grindhouse brought the whole concept back. Ever since Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive especially, there’s been a want for the retro 80s style soundtracks, or the entire aesthetic. Even before that with stuff like Ti West’s The House of the Devil, film fans have gotten a taste for the homage films being made by directors and writers who grew up watching movies in the 1980s and that’s where they cut their teeth in terms of influence. What’s even cooler is a lot of these retro homages are coming from indie filmmakers, bonafide genre filmmakers, and so it’s exceptionally cool that these are being made outside of the Hollywood system mostly. Furthermore, even with the heavy dose of homage in films like these, the concepts and premises are often innovative and fresh compared to so much of the recycled, rehashed, rebooted, remade material we’re being fed in theatres nowadays.
While some of these movies opting to go for a throwback retro aesthetic don’t actually do a period piece, or particularly set things in the 1970s or 1980s, Turbo Kid is straight out of both the ’80s and ’90s. At the same time, it’s futuristic. Set in 1997, it’s as if things stopped in the 1980s and everyone’s stuck.
Probably what excites me most about Turbo Kid is the fact this is a film spun off from the short segment “T is for Turbo” that was meant to be in The ABCs of Death. Though the segment did not make it into the film, I’m super happy it ended up being made into a film. Now out on iTunes and other VOD platforms, this is a new indie film that deserves much attention. Not simply because of its origins from the horror anthology in which it was hoped to be included, Turbo Kid is also an example of how neat, interesting movies can get made with the support of film fans. Paying a few dollars to see an awesomely original, independent film ought to be a privilege, and this is one of the latest new films that will hopefully remind people how indie filmmakers are still thinking outside of the box, not following all the latest trends to the letter and still thinking for themselves. Because like I said, while this is pure retro homage filmmaking, there’s a highly original quality to Turbo Kid which evokes equal parts hope and nostalgia.
Turbo Kid takes place in the year 1997, in a post-apocalyptic vision of the world. The Kid (Munro Chambers) wanders around in the wasteland, fending for himself, reading salvaged comic books of Turbo Rider. Along the way he meets the chipper, upbeat Apple (Laurence Leboeuf). She attaches herself to him immediately and tags along for the ride. The Kid is reluctant at first, however, he warms to her quickly.
Meanwhile in other parts, an arm wrestler named Frederic (Aaron Jeffery) is also fending for himself across the barren lands plagued by drought and acid rains. He’s trying to find his brother, fighting against a one-eyed man named Zeus (Michael Ironside), Skeletron (Edwin Wright) and a band of other insane henchman. Zeus kills people, feeding them to a contraption built for extracting water from human remains.
After The Kid saves Frederic and Apple from Zeus, captured in his savage fighting arena, the fight and the chase are on. Across the wasteland Apple and The Kid venture, Zeus on the warpath, and there’s no telling what might happen in the unstable post-apocalyptic world amongst the dirt, the blood, and the acid rains.
Naturally one of the greatest parts about Turbo Kid is the incredibly authentic retro ’80s score. With original music from Jean-Philippe Bernier, Jean-Nicolas Leupi, and Le Matos, there’s an incredible part of the aesthetic in this film that’s built up through the music. Particularly during some of the small intense sequences, like when The Kid (Chambers) is pedalling fast as he can away from a villain on his bike, there’s this amazing synth chase piece that blew me away. I expected lots of this, however, to hear it composed so well and fit so perfectly with the scenes and sequences is a damn treat!
The score’s individual pieces are so fitting when it comes to the ’80s homage because we get a bunch of great little montages, typical of that era of filmmaking. So not only is the score awesome, it plays into the film in so many ways I think work directly towards cultivating that super cool throwback feeling. You’d swear this was done back in the ’80s, all around.
My favourite part of the score is during a massive fight involving Frederic and The Kid versus Skeletron and the rest of Zeus’ henchman crew. It’s just PUMPING the whole time and it makes you want to kick some ass. Coupled with the incredible practical effects, all the blood and gore we’re treated to, the music makes this section full of adrenaline and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
The apocalyptic angle of the film comes off really well. Particularly I love their use of locations and the sets; not sure how much of this is on location and how much, if any, was done on a set/soundstage. Either way, the post-apocalyptic feeling comes across excellently simply through virtue of how they use their locations. We get the post-apocalyptic settings and sense from everything together, as well as the very palpable sense on top of all that of when the apocalypse happened through the ’80s costuming.
Not only is there a science fiction-ish aspect to Turbo Kid with the apocalypse’s destruction of civilization, this movie has BUCKETS OF BLOOD and PLENTY OF GORE. I thought there’d definitely be a fair share, but man was I pleasantly surprised! Not only that, the practical special makeup effects were out of this world. Just absolutely something to behold. The gory moments get even better once The Kid discovers the Turbo Rider’s gear in a crashed plane; he picks up the glove and begins to blast away at the villains threatening him and his friend Apple.
Inarguably, one of the best gory scenes is when a friend of The Kid, Bagu (Romano Orzari), is captured by Skeletron and Zeus. They tie a hook into his guts, which are ripped slightly out of his abdomen, attached to a bicycle then Skeletron proceeds to pedal hard and haul a big string of intestine out. It’s an awesome practical effect that’s pretty savage and awesomely gnarly. Hard to say the ULTIMATE BEST, because there are just so many unreal gory, bloodletting moments.
We get a bunch of real awesome bloody shots when The Kid blasts people with the Turbo Rider glove. It’s so video game-like that I can’t help love it. Even the glove itself sort of reminds me of the Nintendo Power Glove, as well as how Apple’s little heart monitor is pretty much (wonderfully) torn out of The Legend of Zelda. But the head shots and the torso blow-ups from the glove look perfectly like something you’d see in a video game, it adds tons of flavour to the retro ’80s feeling. Brings me right back to childhood.
Almost all the performances in this movie are spot on. Incredible talent, especially in the younger actors.
Munro Chambers plays The Kid and I found him both charming and funny. He’s got a likeable quality to him instantly, but seeing him rock out to a Walkman and painting his helmet, just hopping about the post-apocalyptic wasteland, it’s a lot of fun. The charm he brings to the role of The Kid helps because there are moments in the script which are purposely cheesy, and he sells these scenes and little brief bits. The performance he gives is awesome. The best thing, though? He actually seems to be having a ton of fun, while still playing his character.
I’ve loved Laurence Leboeuf ever since her turn on the wickedly dark Canadian show, alongside Hugh Dillon playing her father, Durham County. Here she is quite different than that character, which is fun to see. She has a lot of range. Here, Leboeuf plays a beyond quirky, hyper young lady named Apple who turns out to be a synthetic human being, or a robot; whatever you prefer. I cannot count how many times she made me laugh out loud, over and over. There’s energy in her performance unparalleled in this film, maybe unparalleled in most of the roles out of 2015. Honestly, she’s a joy to watch here, as a character who is slightly familiar but plenty innovative. Well cast in this role, there’s no doubt about it, and Lebouef – like Chambers – seems to revel in a chance to do something different, fun, and a bit wild.
Along the edges there’s Aaron Jeffery, whose character Frederic is the typical badass yet with his own square jawed charm and intensity, on top of a rough machismo so familiar from the films of the 1980s. Plus, legendary actor Michael Ironside shows up here as the villainous Zeus, controlling the water sources amongst the desert-like lands of the post-apocalyptic landscape; as usual, Ironside gives a solid performance with the right material and this is one sci-fi/horror I hope he’ll be known for in these later portions of his career. Even the eternally silent Edwin Wright as Skeletron does a fantastic job with a fun, video game/cartoon-ish character who is also a solidly creepy villain alongside Ironside’s Zeus.
This is a 5 star film. I know some may roll their eyes, but whatever. Fuck those eye rollers. This is an incredibly retro 1980s throwback, which is not simply full of homage and an attempt at capturing a nostalgic feel but a very fun, innovative movie in its own right. Part of what works in its favour is absolutely nostalgia. However, this is not all that works for it. The performances are worth a good deal of enjoyment, the blood and gore are ABSOLUTELY PERFECT with the practical effects to make everything worthwhile, and the original music for the score is something I can’t truly describe that’s how much I love it to the core.
So PAY for this because it is one amazing example of how the dreams of filmmakers can come alive when a bunch of people work towards a collective and unique vision; there’s so much effort behind every bit of this film, I was impressed. Watch it and support indie film. Maybe you won’t love it as much as I did, but I guarantee you’ll walk away with at least some degree of respect for how well all its retro elements work together to make an outstanding homage to a simpler time in filmmaking, as well as it makes for a super enjoyable to spend 90 odd minutes. Kudos to the filmmakers for giving it their best effort and pulling out ALL the stops.
Check it out – available on iTunes (not sure if it’s out on VOD anywhere else yet) – and tell me what YOU think! I dig it so hard that it’s not even sensible. You may or may not. Either way, I’d love to hear your opinion, too.
Far Cry 4. 2014. Directed by Alex Hutchinson and Patrik Methe. Soundtrack composed by Cliff Martinez. Featuring the voice work of Grace Lynn Kung, Shawn Ahmed, Naveen Andrews, Shawn Baichoo, Troy Baker, Emerson Brooks, and Mylene Dinh-Robic. Ubisoft Montreal. Rated – Mature. Action/Thriller – First Person P.O.V.
Overall Game Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Replay Value: 4/5 stars
Visuals: 5/5 stars
Dialogue: 4/5 stars
Music: 4/5 stars
I’ve never reviewed any video games, so this may not read like a typical video game review. However, I really loved Far Cry 3, and this installment didn’t disappoint. Although many aspects of this game were similar, if not straight up identical, to those of its predecessor, the storyline here is fun and wild enough to keep any true fan of the previous game a fan of this one.
Far Cry 4 gives us the story of Ajay Ghale, a young Kyrati-American who heads back to his homeland to spread his mother’s ashes. Now under control of Nepal, Kyrat is ruled over by the strange and exotic Pagan Min. The Golden Path, a guerilla group of fighters, tries to free Kyrat and fight Min. Ajay is thrust into the middle of everything, and forced to figure out who will lead the Golden Path, or who may end up destroying it all.
Everything begins with Ajay on a bus, as it is attacked by the Royal Army under rule of Pagan Min. Ajay is taken prisoner; Min claims to have been involved with his mother, Ishwari. Sabal, one of the leaders in the Golden Path, helps free Ajay. This is where things take off.
Alex Hutchinson claims the campaign goes for about 35 hours. I definitely played it awhile. I can’t say for sure how many hours off the top of my head, but definitely a nice long time. The campaign certainly took a bit of playing. Although, I really like to go around and do all the little things available around the island from the hostage missions to races; so many different options even outside the campaign. One of the things I love about the previous game and this one as well.
Once again, Far Cry 4 is an absolute adrenaline rush of a first-person shooter. Like the previous game, it is fairly innovative, as far as I’m concerned. I love the open world format here. You get to take over outposts and complete missions, which lowers the level of difficulty on larger castles and complexes around the island; once you’ve lowered their defenses enough, you can attack, and take things over. This provides you with more Fast Travel points to help quicker navigation across the island. Also, you can buy and trade items here – you fill up your Loot Sack just like in Far Cry 3, full of random items you gank off dead soldiers and furs of various animals you can hunt all throughout the island – then sell it all off at the outposts. Same format as before. Except here now there are the castles/fortresses, whatever you want to call them; that is a little different, slightly, but an extra touch nonetheless.
One of my favourite aspects about Far Cry 4 overall is the trip, or should I say several trips, to the mystical, beautifully magical lands of Shangri-La; the fictional utopia similar to the Tibetan hidden kingdom of Shambhala. You get to do some wild stuff by accessing scrolls hidden throughout the landscape of Kyrat. Once there, you make friends with a majestic white tiger, whom you’ve freed from its earthly pain. You kick the ass of some creepy spirit-like beings, free the bells of Shangri-La, and it is just dripping with visual gorgeousness! I loved every second of it. There are several bells you need to release. Each challenge is greater and more difficult than the last.
Other fun little treats include: the buzzer. I loved this method of transportation. It’s like a homemade, makeshift helicopter one-seater. You can fly up above the forest trees and get to some hard to reach places. Not to mention zipping around the island fairly quickly without needing to resort to the Fast Travel options. Me, I like as much uninterrupted gameplay as possible, so the buzzer was very convenient for me – I hop in one of those and I am off. It’s great for flying in on some of the spots where you need to help rebels fight off the Army; you just drop down a little over the group, hop off your buzzer, and start slaying fools. It really is great fun.
One chief complaint I have is the driving. I really did not like the driving in this game. I can’t remember Far Cry 3 frustrating me as much in regards to the driving, but here it really made me crazy. The buzzer wasn’t so bad; I didn’t have to make too many hard cut turns or anything in the air. On land with the cars and trucks, damn, did it ever get me mental at times the way it would make it really hard to use both sticks at once. I’m usually pretty good, but here it really threw me out of whack, I have got to say. It didn’t ruin anything – I was able to keep everything under control when needed. I just wish it wasn’t such a pain because there were times I specifically avoided driving a car or truck whenever at all possible.
The campaign in the game was a ton of fun. If you enjoyed the last one, you’ll surely dig this one, too. Very cool main mission stuff, as well as some side missions where you get to take hallucinogenic drugs and blow through the landscape to test their effects; a maniac named Hurk has you extracting valuable statues out of high risk areas; you choose between Amita and Sabal who each have their conflicting vision of where the Golden Path should be headed. There is certainly enough in the campaign alone to keep fans interested, as far as I’m concerned.
Overall, Far Cry 4 is a pretty great gaming experience. The campaign and gameplay are out of this world. I’m not a huge fan of some of the dialogue, in terms of how repetitive island characters are – I don’t expect them all to have a different speech to give or anything. I just found it repetitive to a fault. I couldn’t handle it after awhile. There also isn’t as much replay value here as there was in the previous game. I could definitely play it over, but there isn’t as much as I found with Far Cry 3. While the story was excellent, I wasn’t particularly itching to get back at it once finishing my first run through like I was after finishing up the campaign in its predecessor. One other particular aspect worth mentioning is the voice work; a few familiar names both in the video game world, as well as film and television. They really pulled off some fun characters. Troy Baker specifically is always enjoyable; here he plays the eccentric Pagan Min. All actors did a wonderful job with the voice work. Very impressed on that level.
The last problem I have here is with the soundtrack. Although Cliff Martinez was involved here, I was not exactly impressed. Far Cry 3 had a really whopping soundtrack – it was awesome because the real pounding music would kick in on the missions just like it would in a film – that really made an impact. Though I certainly enjoyed the music here, it was nowhere near on the level of what the previous game had going on. Too bad, as Cliff Martinez is an amazing composer, and has done music for a few films I really thought was spectacular. Here, his talents are wasted. The music was good. It just wasn’t as good as it had the possibility of being.
I suggest all fans of Far Cry 3 check this out – judge for yourself. There are definitely some new things here, mainly the story [I’m glad they didn’t try to extend the last one or rehash things too much in another setting], but you get a lot of solid gameplay consistent with the previous game. This keeps things exciting. It doesn’t try to innovate too much. Instead, it sticks with a familiar formula while trying to add in a few bits and pieces to create something unique on its own. I think one of the biggest things Far Cry 4 has going on for it is the fact there is a lot of fun stuff happening – you can just go out and do a lot of weird , wild stuff, have a ball – it doesn’t have to be too serious. But then again, the storyline is pretty intense, so if you want serious, you can certainly have it.
Highly recommended. Definitely one of my best gaming experiences in 2014.