Monday, February 18, 2008

Animation #15

Before I begin my review, let me say that I am not really familiar with the Turok comics or video games. So if you're a Turok fan you may feel that I lack the background knowledge on the history of these series. But I'm a huge dino-nerd anyway.

The story is really quite simple - one day Turok and his brother encounter warriors from an enemy tribe, and defending a girl from their village (Turok's brother future wife) they get into a fight. Turok goes berserker mode and slashes through the enemies... and his brother. In his rage Turok almost kills his brother and the shaman of their tribe sends him into exile. Some 16 years later Turok is asked for help by his brother's son. Turok seems grumpy for being casted away and refuses to take part in the action. But later the boy returns and brings news that his tribe is almost wiped out. Turok takes his tomahawk and goes to help his bro, only to find him almost dead... and he eventually dies after he asks Turok to swear that he will take care for the boy and his mother. Back to the village the leader of the aggressors recognizes Turok's tomahawk - it was his father's and Turok took it years before at that battle in the beginning of the movie. The bad guy wants to avenge his father's death and goes on a rampage, trying to kill Turok. Going through a cave the Indians find themselves in The Lost Land (quite like Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World) - where dinosaurs and prehistoric mammal beasts coexist with savage hordes of "The Missing Link" or something (you know, some huge ugly hard-to-kill humanoid hulks) and Indian tribes. The battle continues...

There is not much of a dialog. No memorable quotes, no one-liners. I feel that the characters are somehow flat, they lack emotional depth and motivation. No inner struggle, no inside conflict. And no comic relief.

The quality of the animation is above average, but far from great. Nothing you haven't seen - no innovative style or some recognizable character design. It's not bad, it's OK. And there are some nice looking Indian chicks :) The backgrounds are not really detailed, but on the other hand - what's there to be detailed? Rocks and cliffs? The dinosaurs are OK, but they lack color nuance and shading. And so do the characters in some scenes. And I forgot to mention - there is not a trace of some fancy 3D CGI cell-shading stuff, which I find good - old fashioned 2d works just fine for me. The only thing that seemed crappy were the computer generated flames for the fire effects in some scenes.

There's plenty of action, gallons of animated blood and even some cut-off limbs. But that will only shock you if you've been watching Bambie all your life. The blood and the battles are no match for a good anime style fight, where everything is presented with some wicked camera angles, fast movements and dramatic pauses. There's an attempt for a showdown at the end of the movie, but it doesn't really work out like in the spaghetti westerns.

All in all - the movie is worth watching, it has its moments, but it could have been much more. I enjoyed it because we rarely have the chance to see something more mature oriented and not-anime. If you're a fan of Ralph Bakshi's "Fire and Ice" or the "Heavy Metal" animated features I encourage you to check this one out, just keep in mind that it doesn't manage to entertain at their level. Somehow it lacks atmosphere and couldn't really captivate my imagination the way Filmation's "Flash Gordon" does for example.

And if you're a dinosaur/comic/video game freak I'll advice you to get your hands on the "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs" animated TV series based on Mark Shultz's "Xenozoic Tales" and "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs" comics. That's the real deal!

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