Turbo Kid & Space Station 76 Movie Reviews

I figured I’d review these two movies together as they’re both (spoofs of? homages to?) a couple of very specific genres that I love. And I really enjoyed them both! But neither manages to quite capture the spirit of the films they’re emulating, although I appreciate their effort. Let’s discuss… 🙂

Turbo Kid (2015)

Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the adventures of The Kid, a teenage boy turned superhero in the “Wastelands”, an alternate 1997 Earth where water is scarce. He teams up with a mysterious girl, Apple, to stop the tyrannical leader Zeus.

My Opinion:

An 80’s-style post-apocalyptic film set in an alternate sci-fi 1997?! And starring Michael Ironside, my favorite low-budget Jack Nicholson?!! Holy shit – sign me the hell up! I actually knew nothing about this movie until reading Digital Shortbread Tom’s great review (HERE). So, when it finally appeared on UK Netflix a couple of weeks ago, I watched it immediately. It’s a lot of fun! It’s flawed but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hoping to love it but I appreciate the effort they put into the film.

There’s Michael Ironside hamming it up perfectly as the main baddie! And check out this other baddie, who looks like some fucked-up mash-up of Jason Voorhees & a Quiet Riot album cover.

This was out ages ago in America but if you’re in the UK & don’t know anything about it, be warned that it’s mega violent. Funny, very fake violence. Lots of people exploding & blood splattering everywhere. The type of OTT fake gore that I can actually handle – I’m a wuss about realistic violence in movies but it’s played for laughs in this one. In fact, I have to give the writers credit on some extremely inventive kills here, such as one involving a bike & a rather lovely one involving an umbrella. They’re almost up there with the marionette death in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (but not quite – nothing beats that one).

As every review of this states, this movie is Mad Max on bikes instead of in cars. That alone was enough to sell it to me. Seeing all the images from the film helped as well and I think they did a decent job making things look good on (what appears to be but maybe it’s meant to appear to be??) a very low budget. The gory special effects had the great fake 80’s look they were going for but, more than anything, I just really liked the design of the characters and their crazy mix of 80’s-post-apocalyptic-inspired costumes. And look how cool our two main heroes look! I’d dress like Apple if I was a teenager & into cosplay instead of a boring old woman working in an office. Mainly, I just BADLY want my own gnome stick! 

Speaking of Apple, I was afraid she’d be waaaay too annoying at first but I have to say they managed to turn that around & I ended up liking her by the end. So bear with her if you watch this – she’s meant to be annoying but she ends up rather endearing. And I thought that Munro Chambers, who plays Turbo Kid, was really good! I wonder if this role will get him noticed – it looks like he hasn’t been in much besides TV stuff like Degrassi: The Next Generation. Ha! I remember when they made us watch Degrassi Junior High early on in high school because it dealt with issues such as pregnancy & the teachers didn’t want us to get knocked up, I guess. Or to have to teach a class instead of sticking us in front of a TV…

This will be one of those reviews where I say loads of great things then confuse people by giving it an average rating. I can’t quite put my finger on it but, overall, this film doesn’t quite work. It maybe tries a little bit too hard? Like I said to the hubby, it often feels like current movies like these are being made by people who love 80’s films but are too young to have actually lived through that whole decade (I can’t find info on the directors’ ages). I have to say that Space Station 76 actually got things more “right” in terms of re-creating a mood from a specific era although Turbo Kid is the more entertaining film of the two. I do respect what they’ve done with this movie, though, as it feels like a movie where those making it have really put their heart into the project. I’d certainly be interested in watching anything else this group of people will hopefully make in the future. Turbo Kid 2? I’d definitely check that out if it happened. I mean, don’t a lot of people prefer the second Mad Max film to the first one? Maybe Turbo Kid 2 would be perfect.

My Rating: 7/10

Space Station 76 (2014)

Directed by Jack Plotnick

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Marisa Coughlan, Kylie Rogers, Kali Rocha, Jerry O’Connell, Keir Dullea

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide.

My Opinion:

A dark comedy in the style of a 1970’s sci-fi film?! Plus Keir Dullea, Todd Rundgren, and a hot guy (Matt Bomer)?!? Sign me the hell up! I’m obsessed with 80’s movies & with post-apocalyptic movies just like the makers of Turbo Kid clearly are but nothing beats good ‘ol 70’s sci-fi for me and I absolutely loved the way they captured the look of those films for this. However, I’m going to put this disclaimer in right now: I am not recommending this movie to anyone. Watch it at your own risk & don’t come moaning to me if you hate it. Got it? Because most of you would hate this movie. I almost steered clear when I saw its IMDB score of 4.9/10. Yikes! That’s the kind of rating for the movies Eric watches! But I’m glad I decided to watch it anyway & make my own mind up. Because I really liked it.

I’d say that labelling this a “comedy”, dark or not, was maybe a bit of a mistake as a lot of people were probably expecting something very different. This movie is quite depressing at times, as each character is suffering from a different kind of lonliness and a longing to be loved or, at the very least, accepted. I read that the director thought of the space station in the film as a suburb, which perfectly describes how the movie feels. A groovy 70’s suburb! Far out, man. The closest I can come to describing this movie is to say it’s Dynasty in space. But more Seventies than Eighties… (Hubby disagrees with me & says it’s “Space: 1999, the Richard Linklater edition” but I never saw Space: 1999 so can’t make that comparison)

We don’t know what year this movie is set in (and don’t need to) but it’s meant to look & feel like the 1970s in the same way so many sci-fi films made during that decade still looked totally Seventies because of the clothing & the decor despite being set in the future & in space . What I really liked were all the movie’s subtle little touches & anachronisms. They’re on a fancy space station complete with cool gadgets such as therapy robots yet they use videotapes labelled with those awesome label maker labels. Remember those?! You’re all too young. We had one like the one below. I want one again! I also want a therapy robot…


The characters are also stuck in the past: the men are male chauvinists, especially the male captain (Patrick Wilson) who is a closet homosexual & treats his new female co-captain (Liv Tyler) horribly as he feels threatened by her. The women are self-absorbed & catty and, of course, everyone smokes constantly. But it works well as everyone is a sympathetic character in their own way. Well, except for the mother of the young girl – I wanted to punch that woman… The characters played by Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and the young girl playing Bomer’s daughter (Kylie Rogers) make up for the less likeable characters, though. I have to say that I’ve never noticed Bomer before & that I only knew him from that shitty Magic Mike movie but he’s absolutely adorable in this. It helps that he’s the only male character who isn’t a pig (although he does like to listen to Todd Rundgren while fantasizing about a naked Playboy model played by Anna Sophia Berglund. There – I’ve named her so that should get me some pervy Google views. But I won’t post the full frontal nude images from the movie. Sorry, boys!).

This movie is hard to describe & I can understand the low ratings but those will mainly be due to it being watched by the wrong people. I hate when people say “you just don’t understand it” when talking about a movie as I think that sounds snobby as hell but, well… I think that’s the case with this movie. If you don’t love the Seventies and/or sci-fi films from that decade, I really can’t see you appreciating this one at all.

I have to say that, although Turbo Kid is fun and the one that I’d recommend, I actually think Space Station 76 did a better job of portraying a specific era & genre and I actually have more respect for this one. If I’m honest, I preferred it to Turbo Kid. It’s surprisingly sad at times & I found the stories involving Liv Tyler & the young girl especially heartbreaking. I’m not sure I was happy with the way the movie ended as we don’t get much of a resolution. However, I’ve never seen anything quite like this film and I like that. It’s different. They took a gamble with this movie and it certainly won’t work for everyone but I found it very unique and have thought about it a lot since seeing it. I’m glad I ignored the IMDB rating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Not gonna lie – I’m old & uncool so I loved the use of all the Todd Rundgren songs Space Station 76. I’m sure it was easy to get the rights with the Liv Tyler connection as he was her step-dad… Anyway, at least Daft Punk agree with me that Rundgren is cool! International Feel is used in this film and, as I said in my review of Daft Punk’s Electroma, they also prominently featured the song so I’m going to share that clip from Electroma (in Space Station 76, it plays while Bomer fantasizes about the naked Playboy model):

And, of course, they use Hello It’s Me – one of Rundgren’s most well-known songs:

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Daft Punk’s Electroma (2006) Movie Review

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Daft Punk’s Electroma (2006)

Directed by Daft Punk

Written by:
Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (Daft Punk)
Paul Hahn
Cédric Hervet

Starring:
Peter Hurteau
Michael Reich

Music by:
Todd Rundgren
Brian Eno
Sébastien Tellier
Curtis Mayfield
Linda Perhacs
Jackson C. Frank
Mathieu Tonetti

Running time: 72 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Daft Punk’s Electroma is a 2006 film by French electronic music duo Daft Punk. The plot revolves around the quest of two robots (the band members, played by Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich) to become human.

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My Opinion:

I decided to finally watch this after reviewing the weird & wonderful Phantom Of The Paradise, Brian De Palma’s 1974 Faustian rock opera horror film (you can read my review of that HERE). Daft Punk were massively influenced by Phantom Of The Paradise so I loved seeing the masked Phantom and the resemblance to the Daft Punk “robots”.

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Just like with Phantom Of The Paradise, I’m not going to recommend Electroma to absolutely everyone who may be reading this. You’d love it or you’d hate it and, if you’re not a fan of Daft Punk and their whole robot persona thing, you may struggle to even make it through Electroma‘s 72 minute running time. I’ll say you don’t have to be a fan of their music, though, as none of their music is in the film. If you like “art”, you may appreciate this film. This is more like an extra long music video than a film and it has lots of great images I so desperately want to use in this review as I think it would sell the film to some of you. Unfortunately, some of the coolest images are also major plot spoilers so I’ll have to leave those out.

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What did I think of Electroma? I loved it. There are actually four other films I kept thinking of while watching this (two earlier than Electroma & two that were made later). I’ve reviewed three of them and really like them all so, if you like these films, you MAY like this odd combination of the four. One is 1971 road movie classic Vanishing Point, another is 1973’s Westworld, the third is the thoroughly strange French comedy horror Rubber about a car tire that kills people with its psychic powers (seriously – it’s awesome), and the final one is the recent naked Scarlett Johansson movie Under The Skin which really had a very similar look to Electroma, especially during this particular scene:

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I’d love to think I could actually talk at least one person into watching this but I better let you all know this: There’s no dialogue in this film. There are extended periods of silence. There are very long sequences of the Daft Punk robots driving… and driving… and driving… and then walking… and walking… and wwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaalllllllllkkkkkkkiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggggggggggggg……………….. Well, none of that bothers me but I know that some people would turn it off during these bits. As I said, this is more a piece of art than a movie. The plot really is as simple as the above plot synopsis makes it sound (two robots wish to be human). It’s an idea that has been explored more deeply in innumerable sci-fi movies but it’s still a great plot that I always enjoy seeing represented in different ways, especially as we’re getting closer & closer to things such as technological singularity becoming a reality. Not that that’s really the theme of this film – I’d say Electroma is possibly set in a future where the singularity has already happened? And now these two robots long to be the humans that no longer exist? Yeah, I kind of like the sound of that and it makes the movie sort of bittersweet…

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Those who know me will know that I’m also a big fan of music and I was surprised there wasn’t actually more of it in this film made by two very famous musicians (and no music of their own, although they have the movie Interstella 5555 for that, which I now plan to also watch very soon). I did enjoy the music I’m sure they will have very carefully chosen, especially the Todd Rundgren and Curtis Mayfield songs & sequences in which they were used. I’ll include the clip that uses Todd Rundgren at end of the review as it’s at the beginning of the movie and will give you a feel for the film if you’re at all interested. The clip of the Curtis Mayfield song is awesome but a massive plot spoiler that would ruin one of the best moments in the film if you watched it.

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Summary:

Daft Punk’s Electroma is weird. This is “art” that I’m sure some would brand as pretentious. But, hey – I love Daft Punk’s music & their whole image. Robots rock. The plot is simple but I think two robots wanting to be human is something that even humans can relate to as we ourselves don’t even really know what it means to be human. If nothing else, Electroma is a lovely film to look at with a collection of cool sci-fi imagery and the backdrop of a beautiful Californian landscape. Good job, Daft Punk – I really enjoyed Electroma. Domo arigato, Mr Robotos. (Sorry – I was dying to get that line in here somewhere!)

My Rating: 8/10

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Todd Rundgren – International Feel (actual clip from the movie):