Turbo Review

Turbo

Stealth.

Crank.

Torque.

Speed.

Machete.

Shooter.

Predator.

Commando.

If cinema has taught me anything, it’s that one-word film titles with macho overtones guarantee popcorn action aplenty.

So when I was given the opportunity to review a film called Turbo, I envisioned a movie with Vin Diesel as an FBI agent trying to defuse an incendiary device wired to a souped-up Lamborghini which will detonate if the speed slows below 200 mph.

Or something to that effect.

I was a little dismayed to find that it was actually a film about an animated snail.

Dismayed at first, that is.

For Turbo is a charming little underdog story which, for the most part, satisfactorily ticks all the boxes that you would expect it to tick.

There’s a humble hero, starting off with grand dreams but plagued by self doubt, who goes on a journey of discovery where he realises that true strength comes from within.

There’s a boo-hiss antagonist, who is as menacing as a U-rated movie will allow.

And there are several colourful supporting characters that, intentionally and inadvertently, help our hero on his way.

The hero in question is Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), a young garden snail who dreams of speed and success. Paul Giamatti is well cast as Chet, Theo’s brother and the voice of reason.

Following an unlikely but entertaining chain of events, Theo’s DNA is fused with nitrous oxide and he is transformed into a supercharged, superfast snail.

A subsequent incident then sees Theo and Chet transported from the suburbs to the Big City, where they encounter a group of racing snails, led by the Samuel Jackson-voiced Whiplash.

The racing snails’ owner, a taco chef called Tito, witnesses an impromptu display of speed by Theo – now ‘Turbo’ – and realises just how special he is.

This sparks a quest for various human and snail misfits to enter Turbo in the Indy 500, which apparently ain’t just for cars.

I won’t spoil the ending, but you can probably hazard a guess.

The one quibble I would have is one of plain old quality versus quantity.

Turbo flings such a multitude of characters at the screen, both snail and human, without really making any of them particularly memorable, in the same league as say Aladdin’s Genie, Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King and pretty much anyone from Toy Story or Shrek.

But this is a minor complaint and some of the characters, such as Snoop Dogg’s supercool Smoove Move and Mike Bell’s corpulent White Shadow, do have their moments.

There’s an additional visual treat in the racing sequences that are tailor-made for Turbo’s 3D format, and the film earns serious bonus points for featuring a Frenchman without once cracking a gag about escargot.

Quibble aside, Turbo is an entertaining tale that rises to the unenviable task of animating a bunch of creatures that possess neither limbs nor faces.

Connor Brennan

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October 2013
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