Plus de Trois Couleurs: Turbo Kid (2015)

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Warning: Though spoilers are mostly avoided, there may be a few slips.  Read at your own risk.

To start the series is a color-based review of my favorite movie of all time: Turbo Kid.  A 2015 indie film collaboration between New Zealand and Canada, and inspired from a six-minute skit from the ABC’s of Death film contest, Turbo Kid is an odd post-apocalyptic splatter film filled with countless movie references and bikes.  A child of the three-pronged directing team Roadkill Superstars, it’s an offbeat comedy-horror-action-romance collage set in an alternate 1997 “future.”  Looking beyond the comical gore (if you have the stomach of it), the film is more than just an indie action–being laced heavily with themes of friendship and loneliness.  Turbo Kid is one of many entries into a list of post-apocalyptic action films started in the seventies by such works as Mad Max.  However, it is very much unlike any of the other entries to the film in terms of its perspective.

We view the events of Turbo Kid mainly through the eyes of the character known as The Kid–a fitting name given that he is a kid.  The Kid lives by himself in a part of the Canadian wasteland ruled by the evil warlord Zeus, and The Kid wants nothing more than to be left alone.  It’s pretty easy to guess that he isn’t left alone.  The idea of a loner forced into conflict by others is pretty typical of a post-apocalyptic film.  Once again, where it separates itself is in perspective.  In Turbo Kid we see the events of an adult world through the eyes of a child of maybe sixteen or so years of age, where usually it is an adult view of an adult world.

Turbo Kid uses colors efficiently and powerfully where many other low budget flicks fail.  The world in which the film takes place is overrun with darker, rusted tones.  The darkness lends the land an older, more adult feel; it’s a gritty world controlled by brown, grey, and overall very boring colors.

turbo-kid-07

The wastes of Turbo Kid are very dark and rusted.

However, in the midst of this darker adult world lives The Kid.  At the beginning of the film The Kid’s costume is itself rather dark, and any of its brighter motifs are hidden or dulled.  However, after discovering the tomb of a super soldier called Turbo Rider, and dawning his suit and powers, The Kid suddenly becomes very brightly colored.  He goes from a duller green jacket  to bright red, yellow, and blue armor.  He becomes his own superhero, fulfilling a childhood fantasy.  With his changing, his attitude changes; he goes from passive to wanting to do the hero thing.  He brings with the brighter red a childish sense of justice

PicMonkey Collage

The Kid’s costume becomes much lighter in the second act of the film.

The Kid’s change is catalyzed largely by his meeting the girl Apple.  Apple is different from anyone The Kid has ever met.  Unlike the adults that run the wasteland, she isn’t weary of people; she’s forward and outgoing.  She’s possessed by a sort of childish naiveté.  She represents the happy side of life that The Kid had forgotten about.  It’s she who pushes him out his shell and into becoming the superhero he’s always wanted to be.  It’s appropriate then that her costume is often laced with blue–a color often associated with happiness and hope.  Her overall color scheme is much brighter than the darker tones of the film, and it contrasts nicely with the browns and deep greens.

Wrong4

Apple’s brighter colors pop out from the grim landscape.

One of the other color that pops in the film is the red of blood.  Turbo Kid is a blood bath to say the least.  There is gore everywhere.  For many it may seem pointless, but for me it added to the film.  The blood is very pronounced.  Its much darker than the red of The Kid, making it so The Kid isn’t ever overly correlated with violence, but the sheer amount of it up against the very grey-green tones make it pop none the less.  The color is simply the color of blood, nothing more–but the color is everywhere, making it one of the most important in the film.  The blood which sprays from various goons in the film defies what is natural through its extremely high pressure and sheer amount–this lends the action a sort of comic-book, unrealistic feel.  This ties back to the notion of the film being told from the point of view of The Kid.  The Kid is just a kid–he exaggerates events in his mind.  The gore is gritty.  It’s done comically, but it’s gritty.  And, to a kid placed in a very frightening situation, the events may seem more intense then what they really are; a minor cut is turned into gallons upon gallons of glorious gore.

Conclusively, Turbo Kid is a very grey film in terms of color, but thrown in there are blue and bright red; the colors of youth and innocence.  And, to combat these kinder colors is the sickly red of blood.  Turbo Kid is, of the many films I have seen, my all time favorite.  Not just because it’s funny or cool, but because it’s well made with love and an understanding of good filmmaking.

Note: The opinions expressed are just that–opinions.  The power color has is real and amazing.  One of the most important aspects of color is that it means something different to everyone.  That’s the beauty of art; whether it be books, paintings, films, or music, we all feel different things about art.  We want to hear how you feel!  Email us at CHStheodyssey@gmail.com and tell us how you feel about color.

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