Saturday, February 23, 2008

Turok! Apparently once a video game. Out this coming Tuesday, the 26th. (****4/10)

I just received a DVD called Turok: Son Of Stone from Alliance Films. I watched it with my step-son, who is 13 and has played these "Turok" video games in the past. I was not even aware that the video game existed, but he insisted that it was gory and bloody and that the main character in the video game was a caveman who fought dinosaurs and such. In the video game, you were equipped (he tells me) with circular saw blades that return to you like boomerangs, grenade launchers and heat seeking missiles, machine guns, and so forth. In this new cartoon from Alliance Films, Turok appears to be aboriginal. This is indicated by the teepees in the village, the feathers on the heads of the characters, and the tomahawks they use to kill each other. Which is fine at first. The main problem here is that every single character in the movie - the bad guys, the good guys, the women - all look exactly the same. This led my step-son to call me a racist. Which I thought was a hilariously perceptive remark. But they do! The only distinction one can make between people is men and women. And only then because the men are all gigantic steroid cases and the women look normal. As far as facial features go - no difference.

So, Turok is a warrior for his tribe, who kills some enemies to save the woman he loves. In his blinding fury and bloodlust, he also attacks and almost kills his own brother. He is banished from his tribe, where he lives for twenty years alone, apparently just two miles away, but in a barren wasteland where he kills and eats deer. And works out. Because when he returns, he is massive in a way even Schwarzennegger never could have been in real life. The woman he loved has now married Turok's brother, who is the chief of the tribe now. They have a son, who is now twenty or so. The rival tribe, the one who was the "enemy" twenty years earlier, attacks this noble group and slaughters them - using guns! Turok's tribe is stunned, having never seen guns before. What ARE these instruments of death? So with just this woman and her son left alive, Turok returns from exile to avenge his brother. Which leads to more flexing and steroid use. And these battles are definitely bloody. For a cartoon, there is a massive amount of blood, arms severed, heads chopped off. There is even a scene where a giant bird creature bites the head off a horse. But I'll get to that later.

So far so good. I figure the year is about 1650, and guns are relatively new to this part of the world. They are still the rifle musket type, which appeared many years later, about 1800. But that is a minor detail, and everything else makes sense. Until he pulls out an automatic pistol. Then the dinosaurs and cavemen show up. Now I really have no idea what year it is, and I have no interest in putting a date on the movie. More warriors show up, having clearly also subsisted on a diet, lo these many years, of steroidosaurus. I understand that people in this era, whatever it may be, would be in shape. They have to walk and run a lot, and hunting can't be easy. But I find it hard to believe they would look like this. There was no HGH and no Nautilus around. And yet, ever since the days of He-Man, this has been the way lazy animators choose to show how tough someone is. The bigger their muscles, the tougher they are. Fine. It is kind of funny. Also funny is the tyrannosaurus-like creature (it IS a T-Rex, only with horns and bug eyes). It attacks all the people, when it is fifty times the size of their horses. This bugs me in movies a lot. Why do these massive creatures chase the three little humans that are central to the story when there are other gigantic dinosaurs and horses around? As I said while watching, if I had to choose between chasing three peas around my plate, and having a steak delivered to me, I think I know where I'm going. Straight to the steak.

Then there is the giant bird (we figure a Moa of some sort) that bites the head off a horse. At least it went for the biggest, tastiest thing first. Then there are tons of familiar dinosaurs - dimetrodon, plesiosaurus, brontosaurus, and others. But they just exist in passing, like part of a nature show. The creatures that actually attack our heroes have never existed. Anyway, it all boils down to more and more preposterous situations, and bloodier and bloodier battles, until finally the bad guy is dead and the good guy rides a Tyrannosaurus with the eyes of a house fly into battle and lives, and the woman is alive and the boy is alive, and everyone lives happily ever after, quickly forgetting the three thousand fellow tribesmen they have lost in a fight over an axe. Oh yeah, this whole evil-guy good-guy battle is over an axe.

At any rate, my step-son assures me that this movie was very much unlike the video game, in that there were no giant saw blades and ridiculous weapons. I think he liked it enough anyway, it was full of blood and fighting and monsters. But I figure why not be true to the original game? If you are going to have guns of all kinds and dinosaurs of all kinds and American natives and also cavemen, how much more implausible would it have been with saw blades and machine guns and grenade launchers? Come on, Turok. Go all out here.

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