February 21, 2008

Dinos take back seat in Turok

"Turok":  Son of Stone, Great-Grandson of the ComicTurok and Andar flee through the cavern until, approaching its far end, they are half-blinded by strange, winkling sunlight. Abruptly the two men emerge into a new landscape populated by prehistoric beasts and men, apparently unconnected to the world they have known.

What's remarkable about this sequence is not its freshness, as Turok freely appropriates its many Jurassic vistas from a certain Spielberg film covering similar material. It's that the drama preceding it has succeeded in drawing in the viewer to the point of forgetting the film's main selling point: the Turok property. Turok, the Indian warrior, doing battle with dinosaurs in a strange Lost Land. Turok, the comic book character, who sold thousands of issues from 1956 to the early 1980s. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, the video game pitting a first-person shooter against oncoming saurian (and bionisaurian) adversaries. Yet the first fifteen minutes of this film, detailing Turok's expulsion from his Native American tribe and subsequent refusal to aid his brother, the chief, when the tribe comes under assault, provide a drama compelling enough to make the dinosaurs take a back seat.

Which is not to say that they don't matter. Lotto, the Korean animators responsible for Turok's lush and detailed visual style, have taken obvious care with visual references. The animals in Turok, from pteranodons to monkeys to the handsome man-eater Carnotaurus sastrei, have been rendered with meticulous care. The landscapes they populate are similarly beautifully realistic, lit in sun-dappled shafts and bordered by vicious grey crags. The DVD extra materials include a featurette on Turok's genesis and development, which describes the team's production schedule as frantic and brief; in the look and feel, the rush doesn't show.
Comment:  We're seeing some wildly divergent views on the new Turok movie. I guess my opinion will be the deciding one.

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