It's interesting that in a week where I gushed about podracing, I happened to see another racing-related film.
A few months ago, my wife found this great racing game for our phones on Google Play, which was about racing super-fast snails. It was fun, but I was even more impressed at the production values, which were much better than most mobile games. I noticed that it was a game by Dreamworks, which threw me for a loop.
Then it hit me...this has to be a tie-in game.
Sure enough, I looked it up and the film "Turbo" was set to be released later in the year. We both decided we needed to see it, and we finally made the trek to the theater last Tuesday.
My experience with this film is a perfect example of a point I've been trying to make in my weekly Jedi News articles: how our own expectations can affect a film regardless of its actual quality.
Based on the video game, I was expecting Turbo to become the star of a snail racing circuit, racing through varied and interesting tracks with his newly-gained super-speed. What it's actually about is Turbo gaining super-speed and then competing in the Indy 500, with the ending hinting that the events I was expecting are about to happen (though we never see it).
Now, the movie we got was perfectly fine. Not breaking any new barriers, but it was perfectly enjoyable. The cast is good; Ryan Reynolds is awesome as always. Paul Giamatti is a great straight-man as Turbo's brother, and Samuel L. Jackson gets all the best line as the insane leader of the racing snail crew. The animation was standard for Dreamworks, so pretty good. The actual Indy 500 was a worthy film race (Races in movies almost always have the hero win, but the fun and tension comes from seeing how - also, there's the slight chance the filmmakers will want to subvert the tropes, so you never really know), and the film had a nice moral about making your dreams happen.
But because I was expecting something much different, my first reaction was disappointment. I didn't like it as much out of the gate because I thought I was going to get another film. There was no real reason I should have expected the film I was expecting, but because I didn't get it, it was harder for me to enjoy the film on its own merits.
Now unlike most people, I realized at once what was happening, and I spent the last few days really mulling over exactly what I had seen and separating it from my own expectations. And after some thought, I decided that it was, as I said above, a neat little film by itself. Not Dreamworks' best, but still a good movie.
There were only two things I took issue with. The first is the music, and that is completely subjective. I'm just not a fan of the style used, but that's nothing to hold against it. The other is a little more damning: Turbo gets his power from getting stuck in a drag racer and inhaling a Nitrous Oxide solution. Now, I know Nitrous is used as a booster for cars, but it always strikes me how often people forget it has a different effect on living beings. I mean, am I the only one who remembers that Nitrous Oxide is laughing gas? It's really a relatively minor nitpick - I mean, how many superheroes are created from lethal doses of radiation, yet we let that slide? - but it does stick in my craw a bit.
At the end of the day, it's a quirky little movie about a snail racing the Indy 500. You'll know whether or not that will appeal to you. As for me, I look forward to seeing it again. I may like it even more the second time, now that I know what to expect.