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Film Review: 'Turbo'

Opened: 18 October 2013 (UK) 
Featuring the voices of: Ryan Reynolds, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Michael Peña, Samuel L Jackson, Luis Guzmán, Paul Giamatti, Michelle Rodriguez, Ken Jeong, Bill Hader and Snoop Dogg
Director: David Soren
Producer: Lisa Stewart/Dreamworks

I saw Turbo at a press screening a few months ago and my curiosity was piqued. It was the first time, at least in recent memory, that Ryan Reynolds would be voicing an animated character and the trailers themselves were appealing and made an impact. Unfortunately though, while Turbo has some appeal, at least for US audiences and audiences that are into car racing, I felt the basic gist was more or less similar to Planes but with the film's main protagonist being a snail instead of a plane. The premise was the same – how an underdog overcomes his worst fears and goes on to win a title in a sport they're extremely passionate about. The only difference here being that Turbo is gifted super powers, while in Planes the film's protagonist gets where he wants to be out of sheer hard work and determination. Which is why I found that film had a tad more universal appeal. That's not to say Turbo is a bad film. It's okay and picks up towards the end but it's in the earlier portions that it moves at a snail's pace (pun intended) and that's when it gets frustrating.

Turbo never quite picks up

Theo, a.k.a Turbo (Reynolds), is a garden snail who dreams of being the greatest racer in the world, just like his idol – an Indianapolis 500 champ, Guy Gagne. His fascination for the sport alienates him to an extent from the rest of the garden snail community, of which his brother (Giamatti) is a respected member. Turbo continues to yearn for his dream (that of becoming a quick racer), until one day a freak accident lands him super powers and his wish of being fast enough to take part in Indianapolis, doesn't seem like as much of a far fetched fantasy. He sets off to try and participate in renown race and along the way makes an unlikely group of friends, who change the course of both his life and destiny forever.

Turbo is by no means a bad film. It's polished and has its appeal but it takes so much time to gain momentum that audiences begin to get restless. The film only really picks up after Samuel L Jackson and the rest of his gang are introduced and the last half an hour are something of a highlight of this other rather slowly moving film. 

Casting Ryan Reynolds as the lead was a bad idea

Technically the 3D is flawless and cannot be faulted and the soundtrack is upbeat too. One of the positive aspects of the film is that Soren never deviates from the main plot so there are no obligatory romance tracks forced in to Turbo which really works in its favour.

Of the cast Paul Giamatti, Snoop Dogg and above all Samuel L Jackson rock  in their parts and help bring in some of the film's major laughs. It's casting Ryan Reynolds as the lead character that works against Turbo in a big way. Someone younger might have done justice to the part – I felt there was too much of a cocky smugness in Turbo's character which is somewhat similar to Reynolds' real life persona. 

Apart from the film's casting, the Indianapolis setting didn't really click too and this may hinder the film's prospects to a major extent. 

I'm going with two stars for Turbo. I'd say it's a very average film and is likely to keep the kids happy, but doesn't leave as much of a lasting impact as say Planes or even Wreck it Ralph did. Worth a watch but nothing out of the ordinary.


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