Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Turok: Son of Stone

   I didn't have an N64 when I was younger, so I didn't play much Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, and I'm not old enough to be overly familiar with the Gold Key Turok comics, but regardless I've been peripherally familiar with the character enough to get excited about this little-known gem. Before I watched it, I actually sat down with a bunch of the comics, and the remastered version of the original game. I read up on the different takes on the character, and found each to be pretty interesting. This animated movie seeks to strike a satisfying balance between the old, and the not-so-old. I'd say it does a damn fine job.

   I'm speaking more as a fan of animated stuff in general, but seriously, Turok: Son of Stone rocks. No pun intended. It's a fast paced little adventure flick with a violent mean streak. The makers went for broke, probably realizing their audience was going to be limited as is, and just went all out with the blood and guts. This is definitely not a kid friendly movie. There's some pretty grisly violence on display, especially for an American made cartoon movie. You expect blood and gore from a fair amount of anime, but western animation? Not really. Not for a long time now. Unless I'm forgetting something, the most hardcore stuff you'll find is in some of the DC animated Batman movies.

   As an ardent gorehound myself, in both action and horror genres, I was pleased as punch to see all the tomahawk wielding action on display, as well as plenty of dinosaur carnage. This little flick gives you your money's worth. As a new-ish fan of the character, I was pleased, and I can't imagine longtime fans being anything but, either. The animation itself might be low on overall detail, but it makes up for it with fluid movements and some really cool scenes. When Turok gets in a fight, there's either some really cool slow motion parts, or some really visually aggressive stuff. Whatever techniques they used to achieve this stuff was pretty neat stuff.

   The story was pretty serviceable, if not a bit undercooked and cliche. But when you've only got like... 70-ish minutes to work with, you do what you can. The movie is a basic revenge story, but on a massive scale. A lost world, genocide, giant dinosaurs, and a tribe of vicious cannibalistic cro-magnon men... it's a lot of craziness. Never a dull moment in this one. The characters are fairly one-note, but there isn't much in the source material to indicate otherwise. Turok is a brave and brawny hero who doesn't speak much. Like Tarzan, and Conan. For all the justice they did his character and the material, not trying to over-complicate or contemporize it (see: Turok reboot game), the makers are easy favorites of mine for animated Conan or Tarzan flicks.

   Having a whole little collection of these quaint animated movies would be fun. Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Conan, Turok. It'd be great. At the same time, with 20 more minutes of movie, divided between more action, character development and exposition- and this Turok movie could've easily been a more complete and satisfying experience. It feels like a pilot for a TV show as is. One also can't help but imagine what the movie would look like in live action. The animation isn't unique or striking enough to quell those thoughts. This isn't Fire and Ice or anything; the style of the animation is pretty basic. As a fan of the 80's, I can't help but picture a live action Turok movie from Cannon, starring Mark Gregory. Oh man. That'd have been cool.

  As is, the movie is fun and full of really exciting set pieces, with plenty of action and violence to elevate it above standard kid-pandering fare. Dare I say this brisk little DTV cartoon movie is even... badass. Yeah. The action scenes have surprising punch and energy, and the story is better than I thought it'd be. Despite how 2 dimensional everything was, it functioned exceptionally well. I found myself caring about whether or not Turok survived, and found his place in the world. So when all is said and done, if you like animated movies you could do both a lot better and a lot worse than Turok: Son of Stone, but fans of bloody cartoons, and fans of the character owe it to themselves to check this one out. Very cool.

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