Turbo Blu-ray Review

DreamWorks Animation came into its own with the release of a movie called SHREK. The first major non-Disney film to garner mainstream appeal, SHREK entertained legions of fans and inspired 3 sequels (to date), television specials and series, and a spin-off movie franchise. But am I the only person who feels like they’ve basically been phoning it in for a while? Or maybe, since SHREK is still an over-rated, less-funny rip off of SO I MARRIED AN AX MURDERER, they never really had it? Wait, I take that back. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON was a great film; fun, sweet, and beautiful, it had everything that is missing from most of their animated features, including the most recent to be released to Blu-ray, TURBO.

Turbo with Ryan Reynolds

TURBO stars Ryan Reynolds as Theo (though he prefers to be called Turbo) in the role of the snail who just wants to be fast. But he’s a snail. Ohh boy, what a (sarcasm) funny premise. And what a wealth of comedic opportunity is afforded this incredible story, see, when Turbo is sucked into the engine of a street racer and somehow turbo-charged by the NOS system. He might finally have an opportunity to race against the Formula 1 cars he’s dreamed of racing in the Indianapolis 500. His brother Chet (a somewhat disappointed-sounding Paul Giamatti) doesn’t understand his brother, and would be content if they could just fit in with their home community of snails harvesting tomatoes and slowly getting picked off by predators.

Turbo meets other racing snails

In case the story was too complex for people, TURBO then leaves the snail community and introduces us to a new breed of snails, the other racers who were pulled off the street and now live a dangerous life. They can’t move with Turbo’s speed, but they still live life to the fullest. When a young man named Tito finds Turbo and discovers his ability, he sees a chance to finally impress his brother. And here is where the story turns from something that could have been sweet and thoughtful and drops back to lowest-common-denominator quality. Tito and his brother are stereo-typical Hispanic brothers who work in a taco stand. But they both dream of bigger and better for their little stand, and maybe getting Turbo into the race will give them that chance.

Turbo and Tito crash the party at Indy 500.

The deeper themes of brotherly love and the need for community are barely scratched by TURBO, more disappointing for the commonality to other movies that have made DreamWorks a well-respected studio. Each of their animated films has dealt, in some way, with the need of an individual to fit into the community surrounding him (or her). TURBO doesn’t take a new tactic or give us an original viewpoint on the idea, instead it exists on the outside of the film. Aside from the fact that we know that both Chet and Tito’s brother Angelo are deeply disappointed in their brothers, we don’t really know anything else about their relationship.

Turbo with Ryan Reynolds

I’m not saying that TURBO needs to tread into indie-drama territory and give us a movie that solely examines the world of familial bonds. That’s not the point of a kid’s movie. But more and more the movies of DreamWorks (and even Pixar works) are eschewing universal themes for cheap jokes and thrills. The result of these changes is stories that exist on the surface alone, we get to see some cool animation and hopefully an original idea or two, but are we able to connect with the characters emotionally? Do we care why they are where they are? Do we really care if they succeed or fail?

Turbo and the other racers get ready for a snail race

It’s these little questions that get us involved with the story. And sadly TURBO features none of them. A bad trend that began with THE CROODS earlier this very summer and was carried into TURBO’s release. I feel a little bit sorry for Mr. Reynolds. I generally think his involvement in a project really enhances it, but this summer has been rough with both R.I.P.D. and TURBO greatly underperforming against their expectations. I hope this doesn’t reflect on him and instead Hollywood takes a moment to step back and realize that it’s the writing that is the problem here. Here’s hoping for some better future outings because I love animated features. I’m tired of letting my kids watch this crap.


Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.35:1) Animation usually looks even better than the usual 1080p on high definition televisions, and TURBO is no exception. The world looks beautiful, especially the race scenes and the detail is very nicely done.

Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) The sound is extremely well presented, probably as good as any other Blu-ray I’ve ever heard. The mixing and presentation are incredible.

Champion’s Corner (05:00) A live action interview segment with Turbo following the race that ends the film. A bit cheesy but it looks pretty and provides a bit more content.

Turbo making a move on the raceway

Smoove Move’s Music Maker (12:47) 6 songs are available here as kind of music videos. I don’t understand the music “maker” side of this special feature, but if you want to hear all of the songs from the movie and see more clips directly from the flick, then you should check this out. To me, this is something DreamWorks did because they felt obligated to include more stuff on the Blu-ray. I am a proponent of including as much as you can on a Blu-ray, but never simply for the sake of having more special features. This one shouldn’t have been included on the disc.
Available songs include: Speedin’; The Snail is Fast; Back to Indiana; Jump Around; Let the Bass Go; Eye of the Tiger

Team TURBO: Tricked Out (02:43) Kind of like a commercial, this one just feels really weird. TURBO already kind of suffers from an identity crisis

Meet Tito – Deleted Scene (02:03) This was an alternate introduction to Tito presented by director David Soren. TURBO could have used a scene like this to establish Tito a little bit more

The Race – Storyboard Sequence (02:25) One of the first storyboards for the initial race sequence (where Turbo gets his powers). It features picture-in-picture with shots from TURBO, and is a pretty cool feature.

Be An Artist! (01:00:56) The lead animator spends about an hour drawing the snails in their various iterations. It’s a pretty cool feature, honestly, and more productions should do something like it. I’m actually going to spend a little time trying to draw the TURBO snails now. You can choose to “Play All” or you can select from the following: Introduction; Turbo – Garden Shell; Turbo – Racing Shell; Burn; Smoove Move; Skidmark; Whiplash; White Shadow; Chet; Customize Your Own Racer.

Shell Creator – This is an interaction program on your Blu-ray player through which you are guided to pick a snail and then build a shell, TURBO-Style! Kind of neat but a little buggy for something so simple.

The TURBO Blu-ray/DVD Combo package also features the Theatrical Trailer (02:26), sneak peeks of other DreamWorks titles, and digital copies of the movie for both iTunes and UltraViolet.


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