AFF: TURBO KID [2015]

The AFF is over now but there is much to write about. For a biennial event I think our list of films was quite spectacular, and only a few films that I saw were even remotely conventional. The only bummer is I have to wait another two years for the next chapter!

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Directed and Written by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery

This genre-bender was yet another odd film I saw as a part of the Adelaide Film Festival, though its oddities give it a certain charm. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the flick takes on some cheesy 80’s movie tropes and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Which is kinda necessary, as we have a dystopian world with the main character being a teenager. So far, so bad; there has been a flood of these YA dystopian movies recently and almost all of them fail to excite. Turbo Kid however has a lot more going in its favour. Mash together some sci-fi, adventure, humour, fantasy and gore elements and suddenly you have yourself a movie that may not do as well at the Box Office as something like The Maze Runner, but it is infinitely more entertaining as it is not simply more of the same.

The main character, known as The Kid, has managed to survive in a post-apocalyptic world by himself. He has a perhaps unnatural obsession with superhero comics. The world he inhabits is not completely desolate – markets for trading still function despite the fact that a violent psychopath named Zues has laid claim to all the territory. We soon meet him and see his ruthlessness. He is a great villain and the machine he has developed to harvest water is truly evil. Having only one eye helps make a good villain too, plus we learn something new about him near the end of the movie that adds another layer to the film..

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We learn that The Kid has survived by himself for years in this Wasteland, until suddenly he meets an extremely naive and over-enthusiastic girl, who it turns out is some sort of robot. Her name is Apple and is perfectly played by Laurence Leboeuf, her over-eagerness and ignorance to common things cause her to be extremely believable as a robot. Her character arc isn’t great but it is there, as she becomes more human, learning more from The Kid. As for him, his character grows throughout the movie, growing from a shy young boy trying to keep to himself, to a brave survivor of the Wastelands who fears no one. He also keeps a notebook highlighting which areas are safe and which are dangerous. He may have been alone for a long time, but he certainly has picked up some survival skills.

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Turbo Kid definitely also takes cues from modern video-games where the player is tasked with crafting items and weapons, as when outlining the rules to Apple, The Kid says something along the lines of, “rule number 3, always have a weapon. If you don’t have one, make one.” And this is most of what we see when the violence ramps up; home-made weapons ready to kill. It is also often during these violent scenes where a lot of the dark humour comes from, as this another movie that uses its gore for laughs, much like Tag. One part is near indescribable but god it is funny – so many people are exploding that a man has a torso and a pair of legs stuck on top of his head, struggling to do much of anything.

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Another interesting aspect of the film is the transportation everyone uses. I’m sure this has been done before but I haven’t seen it; everyone in this world rides BMX bikes. It makes perfect sense too; minimal maintenance, no need for petrol. It isn’t a big part of the story but I found it interesting as I hadn’t seen this mode of transport in a dystopic universe (which happens to be 1997, suggesting an alternate timeline or alternate Earth).

If Deathgasm and Tag sounded like your thing, keep an eye out for this one too. It has one thing though that those two films don’t quite have – the way it splices genres seamlessly. Tag did this to some extent, but nothing like this movie. It moves between genres with grace, with only a bit of bad acting to be found. It also seems like this was a4.5 beer - no beer top New Zealand-North American co-production; it is nice to again see New Zealand releasing more and more quality film. It is hard to recommend this movie; I don’t think it will cater to many people’s taste, but if you are in the mood for a bit of ultra-violence with some 80’s cheese and a ton of other genres being explored, check this out. 86% on the Tomatometer ain’t too bad either!

Four and a half beers out of a six pack

4.5/6