I was intrigued when I heard that the Turok franchise was going to be
rising from the dead once again. The character has had a long and
colorful history, starting in the comics in the 1950's, being revived and
updated by Valiant Comics in the 1990's, and staring in a series of popular
video games by Acclaim that ran through 2002. With Valiant (later
Acclaim Comics) dead and the last video game a critical and commercial
failure however, I thought the odds of the Indian who fights dinosaurs
being revived yet again were fairly remote. Never count a dinosaur
hunter down though, as in early February a new first person shooter video
game is being released and a direct-to-DVD animated feature is also hitting
the shelves. The DVD, Turok: Son of Stone, harkens back
to the original comics. Gone are the laser sighted bow and cybernetically
enhanced reptiles of the Valiant era, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately
that's about one of the only things the show gets right. Filled with
a lot of blood and gore this movie is much too violent for children, but
the simplistic and often nonsensical script will bore adults.
Turok, his brother Nashoba, and the object of their affections Catori are
romping through the forest, they are attacked by a quartet of warriors
from a rival tribe. The leader order the two brothers killed, but
he wants the attractive woman for himself. When the warriors attack,
Turok leaps into the fray. Like Jason Bourne taking out some unsuspecting
Swiss patrolmen, he chops off the attackers arms, cleaves their heads opened
and finally drives a tomahawk deep into the chief's chest. When Nashoba
comes to congratulate him however Turok, in a berserker frenzy, attacks
and seriously wounds his brother.
Back in their village, the tribal chief, Turok's father, is willing
to forgive his son for what he did. The medicine man however says
that Turok's destiny is soaked in blood, and that the rival tribe will
attack because of what happened. (Apparently Turok should have let
himself be killed and his girlfriend rapped to please the tribe elders.)
Not wanting to have a kick-ass fighter in their midst when they think they'll
be attacked, they banish Turok.
The attack that everyone was expecting does take place....16 years later.
Nashoba is now the chief and Catori is his wife. When Chichak, the
son of the leader Turok killed all those years ago, attack's Turok's tribe,
they don't stand a chance. Chichak's warrior are armed with mussle-loading
rifles, while the other Indians are still using arrows and knifes.
In the slaughter, Nashoba orders his son, Andar, to go find Turok.
this time most people are wondering where the dinosaurs featured on the
cover are going to enter the movie. Not for a while yet.
When Turok and Andar arrive at the battlefield, they find Nashoba dead
and Chichak heading toward the village to kill the women and children.
Although they have a long head-start, Turok arrives at the village just
seconds after Chichak who grabs Catori and runs. (Why? He's
won the battle!) Turok and Andar follow the evil chief into a cave
and through a long tunnel until they come out in another world: The
Lost Land. This is a place inhabited by dinosaurs and cave men, where
it rule of the land is kill or be killed.
Turok rescues Catori and, fighting off a dinosaur, manages to get away
from Chichak and hook up with some friendly Indians. Chichak meanwhile
finds a clan of cavemen and after killing (and eating) their leader gains
their respect. Now with an army of savages at his command (though
he can't speak their language a few arm gestures can convey the most intricate
plans apparently) Chichak vows to kill not only Turok, but all of the Indians
in the Lost Land.
DVD carries a warning on the back, but it really should be on the front.
This is a very violent and blood show and not for young kids at all.
Arms and legs are cut off, there are instances of cannibalism, a horse
gets his head cut off and dropped which is then dropped onto the ground,
animals are eaten alive, someone is slowly tortured, people staggering
around with arrows all the way through their chests, and the film is filled
with lots and lots of blood. I watch a lot of Japanese cartoons and
this ranks up there with the most violent horror anime.
That would have been fine if the story was more adult oriented with
an intricate plot that could hold the interests of mature audiences.
Unfortunately it can't. The story, written by Valiant Comic's Turok
scribe Tony Bedard is very simple and basic. One of the first things
that happens when Turok and company meet the Indian tribe in the Lost Land
is that Andar falls in love with a native beauty. Come on.
The characters don't grow at all during the movie and they aren't that
complex to begin with.
Added to that are the numerous plot holes and implausibilities that
caused me to roll my eyes. Chichak walks through the cave to the
lost land, but on the other side he's riding his horse. Where'd that
come from? What about Turok's berserker rage? Why is
that never mentioned again after the first time? (In the commentary
they blame budget constraints.) How does Chichak communicate with
the cave men? That's not to mention Turok flying on a pterodactyl
or riding a T-Rex into battle and somehow communicating with it so that
it only attacks the enemy. (For that matter why would it even stick
around after Turok jumps off its back?) How come the cave men don't
die when they have three arrows through their chests in the first battle,
but a single arrow to the side takes them out in the second one?
I could go on and on. Suffice to say if plot holes bother you, this
isn't the show for you.
movie comes with a DD 5.1 mix that sounds good, especially during the battle
scenes. The surrounds are used to good effect in these sequences
to make the viewer feel that they are in the middle of the action.
After the fighting stops however the mix basically collapses into a stereo
track that's centered on the screen. Even so, this was a nice sounding
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks pretty good, for what it is.
The lines are tight, the colors bright, and the blacks are solid.
Unfortunately the animation looks like it came right out of a Saturday
morning cartoon for 10 years ago. The movements are often stiff,
and when people walk they seem to just glide over the background art, traveling
either faster or slower than their moving legs would indicate. The
character designs are rather lackluster, including the dinosaurs.
The backgrounds in several scenes, especially the opening, one are very
good though. Other times they just fill the background with clouds
or simple colors which is too bad. If the whole film looked as good
as the better backgrounds I would have been impressed.
There are a couple of extras included on this disc. The first
is a rather bland commentary track with producer Evan Bailey, supervising
director Tad Stones, and the three people who directed the movie (each
did one section of the film. In order:) Dan Riba, Curt Geda, and
Frank Squillace. There was a lot of dead air in this track, and when
they did talk it was mostly to narrate what was on the screen. I
didn't learn much (aside from the strict time and monetary pressures they
were under) and didn't find this track that entertaining.
A better bonus item was Total Turok, an overview of the character
by the creative staff of the film. They talk about his origins in
the 50's, how he changed in the Valiant era and what they were trying to
do with him in this film. Oddly enough the videogames aren't mentioned
at all which is very strange since that's undoubtedly what many people
remember the character from, and this disc is supposed to support the new
game (and vise versa.) Even with this omission the 22-minute documentary
was fairly interesting.
I just can't decide who this movie is aimed at. There is way too
much blood and gore for children, and the story is so riddled with holes
and simplistic that I can't see it holding the attention of mature audiences.
With little replay value adults that are interested might want to consider
renting it, but this isn't worth the purchase.