The look and aesthetic of the 1980s have came back in a big way recently. Not that I'm complaining. We have gotten a lot of films lately that are a throw back to the greatest decade. Some of it's really well done, like the movie being discussed this time or Stranger Things. They take a warm respectful loving look back at the films and tropes of the time and produce something new but with nostalgic comfort. Some times we get some stuff not all that great.
More often we get heavy handed irony and snark with none of the heart the makers of the films of the time put into their work. This isn't always bad and certainly opinions and taste vary but I enjoy the films from my childhood with very little irony. I like and enjoy them just as they come. I appreciate the effort that went into King Fury or Vestron 6's satire films but they are a little too heavy on the snark for me. Turbo Kid is a film written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell that really walks the fine line between those two camps and delivers something for everyone who like me still has their shudder shades handy for when they finally come back into style.
The story is that old chestnut about a teenage boy in a post apocalyptic wasteland trying to scrounge out a meek existence by living off the remains of society. We are told the year is 1997 and the world has been reduced to a wasteland after a great war. We then get to see an opening that would be right at home in the period of VHS rental stores. The main character wonders through his part of the wastes while listening to an 80s pop-rock song. I will not name the song since it's a nice Easter egg for fans. During this time we see the kid is a fan of apre-end-of-the-world comic book character called Turbo Rider, that was inspired by a real life soldier that fought in the war that ended the world.
We are pretty quickly introduced to all the main players and get some backstory about the world of the film. In no time at all the Kid ( played by Munro Chambers ) meets up with a strange hyper-energetic girl named Apple (Laurence Leoboeuf) who befriends him and a "cowboy" played by Aaron Jeffery. The film antagonist is Zeus, played by 80s heavy,Michael Ironside with his ever loyal henchman,Skeletron who is played by Edwin Wright. Skeletron is very likely my favorite character in the movie.
After being chased by Zeus's mooks and separated from a kidnapped Apple, The kid stumbles into the crashed aircraft of the comic book character he idolized. He puts on the Turbo Rider uniform he takes from the corpsethat comes equipped with the turbo glove. A power glove like device that shoots a powerful blast of energy that explodesmooks into a glob of blood, guts and bone. He then goes to rescue Apple from the bad guys HQ and the films turns into non-stop fun. I can't really go any further without spoiling a lot of the surprises.
Don't let the title fool you into thinking it's a kids movie because it certainly is not. It's super gory and ultra-violent. It's also pretty funny and it has a lot of call backs and references to 80sB-movies and culture in general. For instance, we see the main characters burning VHS tapes in place of wood at their over night camp in one scene and the previously mentioned walkman cassette player.
The characters are all a lot of fun. You can tell they had a lot of fun playing this parts and it shows in the great performances. Apple is a charming energetic odd-ball that you like instantly. Fredric the cowboy is a mash up of every badass from hundreds of Mad Max B movie rip-offs. Aaron Jeffreys has it nailed to a science, My personal favorite character is the ultra violent Skeletron, He doesn't speak a word through the film but his body language tells you everything he is thinking and it's hilarious. The Kid is played by Munro Chambers and he really has that awkward, unsure of himself kid hero look and feel. Of course Michael Ironside is Michael Ironside. Naturally. Who else would you pick to be the bad guy in a movie that is a homage to every 1980's-action-sci-fi-post-apocoliptic movie made?
While it is a low budget film, it;s easy to forget that while watching it. The makers of the film did a helluva lot with what they had to work with. The gore effects are as good as anything out there now. No matter how many times I watch it, the effect of exploding mooks from the turbo glove blast always delights me. Some of the gore effects looks more like what you would see when watching Re-animator, it looks right at home. Only one effect was a little weak to me and was obviously CG. Because of the nature of the effect, it is completely understandable and I can't really fault it.
If you haven't seen this movie yet you should. I give it my highest recommendation. You can see it on Netflix and Amazon and available on Bluray and DVD.