Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Adam Beach, Robert Knepper, Graham Greene and Tatanka Means
Directed by Curt Geda, Dan Riba, Frank Squillace and Tad Stones
Distributed by Classic Media
This is a tale of men, doing manly things. Many a body part will be lost. Only the most fearsome of creatures will be ridden into battle. THIS is the world of TUROK!! You laugh now, but when he steals your cavewoman girlfriend from you, you’ll remember I told you so.
Turok: Son of Stone is the tale of a Native American Brave, feared for his talent for killing. It is said that death will follow him, so his own family turns their back on him as he is banished from his village. With pain in his heart, he journeys deep into the woods, honing his skills in silence. Years pass and now, a blood thirsty tribe threaten the village. Turok is called to come again and do what comes so naturally to him and in this, protect a love he once left behind. Turok enters the battle to swing his axe and chew some peyote….and he’s all out of peyote. Spoilerific things happen and soon, our hero finds himself in a strange new land with dinosaurs and hulking Cro-Magnon men replacing psycho natives at the top of the food chain. Will our red son triumph or be ground beneath the feet of a T-Rex??!!
I have to say, I popped this DVD in with the lowest of expectations. In my mind, I’d pictured some straight to DVD “DIK” animation extravaganza with dumbed down action, an overly dramatic story and art desperately trying to be anime. In reality, the art style is more in line with the Bruce Timm school, made famous by “Batman the Animated” series and later, “Justice League Unlimited.” In my book, that’s never a bad thing.
The opening minutes of this movie are bloodier than any scene in Last of the Mohicans. Hell, they are bloodier than most PG13 horror films! Turok takes on his enemies with a steely gaze, gritting teeth and a determination for carnage that borders on glee. This is most certainly NOT a kid’s movie! Body parts fly and horror fans will get their fill of the red stuff. You’ve got chase scenes, bloody battles, dino rampage and caveman chaos. You’ll also get family strength, unrequited love, an underlying tale of revenge and good old fashioned Native American honor. Basically, this is not your ordinary animated feature. This is an outstanding film on its own merits. Forget that it’s even a cartoon.
Unfortunately I’m the worst geek ever and can not speak on how the movie Turok compares to his classic video game counterpart. I play maybe one video game every six months! At a quick glance across the interwebs, I can say the animated Turok looks nothing like the new video game killer. The video game character and concept always seemed a bit one dimensional to me…a far cry from the emotional power packed into this gritty animated epic. It’s an interesting, almost shocking transformation! If directors converting video games into flesh and blood films would give their creations half the dramatic content and depth of story, hitting the movies every weekend would be an entirely different experience.
A 22 minute featurette titled Total Turok is your only, stand alone extra on the DVD. This covers the history of the character in comics from his earliest incarnation to his 1980 revival battling cybernetic dinosaurs with any piece of tech he could get his hands on. We then get a brief touch on the video game franchise before launching into the heart and soul of the film you’ve just watched. Cinematic choices, pacing, amounts of violence and authenticity of the Native American culture are all discussed by the creators themselves who’s excitement shows through and is never tiresome for that fact. Horror fans will notice Tad Stones, director of the Hellboy animated movies in these interviews. The only other disk feature is a running audio commentary from the directors, discussing what directors generally discuss and laughing at the bloodier moments in their creation.
Growing up, a movie called Fire and Ice floored me. This was an animated film that took itself extremely seriously with people dropping like flies and an overlaying tension so think you could cut it with a broad sword. A short time later, Transformers the movie blew me out of my seat with its amazing animation a story with a maturity level far beyond the TV series. Things would not return to that scale for some time. American animation has been evolving into a more serious beast in current years. Epic shows like “Avatar: The Last Air Bender” introduce deep culture and emotional depth into a show that still boasts that it is made for kids. It is refreshing to see a creation that doesn’t question the child’s intelligence! On the flip side, there are shows like “Justice League Unlimited” that are clearly made for us, the geeks who eat up every word with psychotic glee. Shows fueled by writing that makes big budget films seem like sitcoms.
Now, the evolution continues with both Marvel and DC producing straight to DVD titles starring their core comic book characters, fully animated and ready for battle. While Marvel seems to be content to dumb down their content for some child demographic unknown to me, DC continues to create mature content that does its comic counterparts proud. Turok: Son of Stone continues in this vein, alongside the ever improving Hellboy animated films, as the strongest examples of superior American animation, finally giving Japanese Anime a run for its money.
4 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5