Casey Jones The Movie, the TMNT Fan-flick Reviewed!
Seemingly out of nowhere, a Casey Jones fan film has popped out of the woodwork. From the minds of amateur film makers Polaris Banks and Hilarion Banks, Casey Jones The Movie tells the origin story of the Casey Jones character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. While the character development may be somewhat unbalanced, Casey Jones The Movie is significantly better than it really should be.
Typically fan films are bad, really bad. They are produced by people that are bigger fans than they are talented film makers. While there is something to be said for blind fanatical passion for a property, fan films are much better when helmed by a person or team that knows what they are doing. The Bankses clearly have a strong knowledge of many very important aspects to film-making. They also aren’t bad at acting, which is one of the biggest surprises.
One of the things Casey Jones The Movie does well is set the mood. The score and set-pieces perfectly match both the direction of the film and the classic origins of the character. If it wasn’t shot in New York, I would’ve never known. The music obviously pulls influence from the first Turtles film without being a blatant ripoff and accents the action enough to add depth to the experience, something most fan-films lack. Hilarion Banks plays the Casey character with the appropriate amount of bravado, and despite being seriously underweight to play the New York vigilante, he manages to pull it off nicely.
The costumes look great, especially Casey’s Mask and the foot ninja’s outfits. Even the (potentially movie destroying) Michelangelo costume is good enough. There’s a grit to the movie that is established very early on that I’m sure Turtles fans will appreciate. Several times during the film was genuinely impressed by the cinematography to the direction and camera work. The three acts of the film very distinct and Casey’s character develops as the movie plays out, but that’s where things get a bit hazy.
Departure from typical canon is fine. The Turtles are notorious for having a rich malleable history, and Casey Jones has taken many different character angles. Clearly the Casey that was supposed to be present here was the “CRAZY” vigilante Casey. The kill anyone that breaks the law Casey. Prior to the mask being worn I wasn’t getting “CRAZY” from that character. He was reading more as cocky with a short fuse. I don’t feel that there was a point in the story where Casey made that transformation from asshole with a hockey-stick to muderous lunatic. Also, his motivation to become a vigilante (getting beaten up in an alley, after kinda provoking the fight) seemed lackluster. The point during the second act when Casey takes a golf club to an unarmed gang member that had little to do with the crime being committed nearly detached me from the story completely. It seemed out of character for the Casey they had built.
Things also get a bit shaky in the third act. In all past origin stories for Casey Jones, the first Turtle he encounters is always Raphael. This is typically done to help develop the Raphael character and curb his temper. At first, the inclusion of Michelangelo in lieu of Raphael seemed weird, but after I noticed that Mikey’s voice was done by Robbie Rist (the same voice actor from the TMNT feature films) the change made sense. That revelation was weird for me as a huge fan. It created a odd dichotomy where they were clearly paying homage to the movies, by completely disregarding the proper origin of the Turtles/Casey relationship. But hey, if Robbie Rist agrees to voice a Turtle in your Casey Jones movie, you don’t tell him “No, that’s ok, we really need the Raph guy”, so I completely understand.
*Spoiler Alert* Also in the third act, the inclusion of Krang was odd when it would have been just as effective and probably easier to cast someone as Shredder. Having the story take place beneath some larger untold Turtles plot is classy and thought provoking and the fight sequence in the 3rd act rivals ones seen in big budget Hollywood films. The punches look like they hurt and the fight choreography is spot on. And finally, April’s wardrobe choice was ill advised at best.
With that said I was super pleased with how this turned out. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much, as I said, fan films typically aren’t good. I can say with certitude that Casey Jones does a good job telling a story, and saluting the source material while still being an impressive piece of amateur film making. Rather than being a cheese-fest, Casey Jones The Movie is cool…really cool! I can only hope that the Bankses get the appropriate attention and money for this film because clearly there is talent to be mined here.
Visit http://www.caseyjonesthemovie.com/ to watch the flick!
Verdict: Totally worth watching…more than once.