Turok Son of Stone rampages onto DVD with a feature length film that is for mature audiences only. Packed to the brim with action and excitement, Turok is a ride that’s sure to thrill the viewer and leave him or her breathless. With the ability to entertain while being full of action at the same time, Turok will undoubtedly be the animated hit of 2008. Or it would be if what I had said prior was true or if anyone had actually heard of it, because I was completely unaware of it until Fed Ex dropped it off.
Telling the origin of Turok, the comic book hero of the 1950’s, Turok: Son of Stone is the latest in comic-to-animation adaptations and it is backed by comic scribe Tony Bedard (screenplay), animated Hellboy producer Tad Stones and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Justice League Unlimited directors Curt Geda and Dan Riba. Son of Stone recounts Turok’s origins and how he came to be, as well as including one of his biggest adventures with the “ruthless tyrant” Chichack having destroyed his village and killed his brother. Swearing to protect his brother’s wife and their son, Turok is thrust into the Lost Land where ancestors of his people live as well as a myriad of creatures that Turok has never before encountered reside.
Obviously you’re met with a series of mixed reactions upon seeing the cover to Turok Son of Stone. The first thought is “what is this crap?”, then your eyes hit the “Warning: Contains graphic violence suitable for mature audiences only” and you begin to wonder if maybe it doesn’t suck. Then you flip the cover over and see animation that looks straight out of a Disney movie and again roll your eyes. Then you read the credits and read that some of the best talent in the animated comics business is involved and suddenly all of your initial reactions fade away. You begin to think that this may actually be a kick ass animated movie, what with Tad Stones, Dan Riba and Curt Geda being involved. So you pop it in and within a few minutes we’re shown a random scene where Turok goes beserk, everything goes white and he starts hacking and slashing people up with blood flying everywhere.
After that moment my hope for the movie fell apart—is this what the “mature audience” warning was for? Excessive blood spray? I’ve seen my share of “mature” animated movies in the past couple years (mostly from Marvel’s dismal attempt at creating PG-13 films that didn’t once warrant a true PG-13 rating) and unfortunately Turok falls victim to the same formula that the rest of the films suffer from. Yes, there’s blood, yes there’s some cannibalism and yes there’s plenty of violence, but a movie alone doesn’t survive on this and that’s where Turok ultimately fails. While animated efforts such as Hellboy (and to some extent Superman Doomsday) blended the violence and blood with a solid story, Turok instead wanders around, trying to be more than it was meant to be.
I can tell you the moment I decided the film wasn’t worth my time. As soon as Turok and our cast made it over to the Lost Land and Andar began flirting with a girl his own age, I completely lost it. This is what we get in terms of story? There’s no way anyone who is old enough to watch this much blood fly across the screen is going to be entertained by the juvenile story contained here, so we end up with a disconnect. The film is too violent for a kid, who would enjoy the story, to view and an adult would just roll their eyes at the juvenile dialogue and plot, while they’re treated to various and copious amounts of blood spray.
I will say that the violence is quite high in the film and I was kind of impressed by some of the stuff they pulled off, but in the end it’s really not worth it. Dan Riba and Curt Geda (seriously man, Brainiac Attacks and then this? The hell.) did a fine job directing, as did the third director Frank Squillace…there’s really nothing visually wrong with the film, it’s all just the writing.
Other elements of the film that irked me was Turok’s “white rage” aspect, which they mention in the commentary as something they wanted to incorporate throughout, but instead never did. Of course they mention time and budget constraints, but why the hell was it included at all if you didn’t plan for it better? It seems like such a random sequence because we never see him “rage” on again. It would’ve been cool if we had some explanation for it, but I didn’t even understand what it was until I listened to the commentary. There are so few elements in the film that actually make Turok seem stronger than everyone else (I mean yeah, he rides a dinosaur, but that’s just the way this movie is—I had no real inclination to believe he was superhuman in any way). Also annoying was hearing Cree Summer again (seriously, cast someone else already) and a few awkard bits of animation, including an incredibly long sequence of a girl running through the Lost Land for nearly fifteen seconds before she said “We found strangers by the lake!” Really? We had to spend all that time on that?
Perhaps it was just the budget and time constraints, but Turok Son of Stone really falls short of all of its marks. I hate saying that too, as I love the guys behind it and their previous work…but Turok was just a real mish mash. It certainly had potential, but the end result just felt like The Land Before Time with blood and violence. Skip It.
Unfortunately for everyone who likes shiny things, you’ll be drawn in with Turok Son of Stone’s packaging. Arriving in a reflective foil slip case, Turok Son of Stone comes with a standard amaray case underneath the pretty foil (and “Graphic Violence” warning sticker). Included on the DVD is the film in a beautiful 16×9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks and sounds absolutely wonderful. The visual and audio presentation of the film is quite nicely done, it’s a shame it wasn’t a more worthy film. Opening the DVD case finds a lone DVD (no inserts) that looks like something you buy from the dollar store (in terms of cover art—really the character designs in this film were quite generic and boring looking).
Moving onto the DVD itself we have a collection of extras. First is a commentary by Evan Bailey (Producer), Tad Stones (Supervising Director), Dan Riba (Director of Sequence 1), Curt Geda (Director of Sequence 2) and Frank Squillace (Director of Sequence 3). The only real participants in this is Stones and Bailey, everyone else remains quiet. Riba speaks up a bit, but we hear from Geda a total of two or three times and I can’t really recall Squillace ever saying much. They talk about the film as best they can and they clearly enjoyed working on it, but they only make light of the things I found most annoying about the film, so either I was expecting too much from it or they just had a much more light hearted approach to it all.
The next (and last) extra on the disc is “Total Turok” (22:19), a documentary that covers the characters comic book origins and details on the film. I can’t recall them ever mentioning any of the video game series from Akklaim that became quite popular in the late 90s, but maybe they were just embarrassed by it all. If they mentioned it, it was in passing…there was certainly no footage of it.
Overall the disc is more impressive than the film itself, which, in this day and age, is sadly not all that surprising. You can pass this film and DVD up with no remorse and no regrets. Skip it.
Turok Son of Stone arrives on DVD on February 5th.