Sunday, May 11, 2008

Here He Comes...Here Comes Speed Racer

Speed Racer debuted this weekend to some truly bad reviews and only made an estimated $20,210,000 at the box office. Neither is a particularly auspicious start for a motion picture. While I am a loss to explain why more people didn't see Speed Racer (I can only figured they went to see Iron Man again instead), I think I can explain why it received so many bad reviews. Critics were expecting an action movie about a race car driver. What they got was a live action cartoon. And that is the key to enjoying Speed Racer. Once you accept that it is essentially live action cartoon, you can simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

Indeed, the strongest point of Speed Racer may well be its amazing, over the top visuals. This is literally a live action cartoon that the Wachowski Brothers have directed. The colours are bright and flamboyant. The cars in the races do things that absolutely defy both the laws of physics and gravity--catapulting over each other, spinning through the air to land safely and continue on their way, driving up cliffs... It should then come as no surprise that the movie boasts 2,000 different special effects shots. With this many effects the Wachowski Brothers pull off what are some of the most amazing race scenes ever shot on film. Arguably, it is when Speed is behind the wheel that the film really comes alive.

The remarkable visual sense of this movie goes beyond its often incredible effects. Particularly when it comes to the Racer home (where Mom, Pop, Speed, little brother Spritle, Chim-Chim the Chimp, girlfriend Trixie, and mechanic Sparky all live), the movie looks in some respects like it could be set in early to mid-Sixties. If it is the early to mid-Sixties, however, it is the Sixties of this century, as there is technology that is advanced even by today's standards. Indeed, I am not sure what the cars run on, but it is obviously not petrol.

Speed Racer starts slow. And early in the movie the plot feels somewhat disjointed, as the Racer family past is revealed and the various subplots involving Royalton Industries and Racer X are put into place. Once the movie kicks into high gear, however, it never lets up. And viewers are not simply treated to some exciting race scenes, but a story of family versus corporate interests--a story all to relevant to our times.

In the end Speed Racer is more than a faithful adaptation of the classic anime series of the Sixties. It is itself essentially a live action cartoon: bright, colourful, loud, and ultimately a whole lot of fun.


dennis said...

Dennis says Cats love action movies and car race movies especially. Is Max getting his own blog soon?

Unknown said...

I'm in the VAST minority of folks who actually liked Speed Racer and for that reason - because it felt like a live-action cartoon and it didn't try or pretend to be anything more than that.

- Row Three

Terence Towles Canote said...

Yes, Marina, I think we are in the minority. Sad really, because I do think Speed Racer could be a fun movie if people would just let themselves sit back enjoy it!

I doubt Max will get his own blog soon. He has a pretty busy schedule--tormenting the other cats, playing with his toys, napping...

Snave said...

"Indeed, the strongest point of Speed Racer may well be its amazing, over the top visuals."

Thanks, that bodes well for me. My wife has no desire to see "Speed Racer" and tells me I will have to go see it myself, but that's o.k. I love stuff that is like "eye candy". I think "What Dreams May Come" was one of the sappiest things I have ever gone to at the movie theater, but man was it cool to watch.

Then again, Robin Williams movies are a whole 'nother topic, eh! 8-)

But thanks for your review. I have been looking forward to "Speed Racer" for some time now!

poppedculture said...

Perhaps I will have to give it a chance.