Speed Racer: Review

by Free Reyes

This is a spoiler free review - a spoiler edition will be released soon

I have always loved how detached from time and reality the original 60's animated show was. But when I first heard the Wachowski's were adapting Speed for the big screen I had my reservations. I was worried that they would make an adult Speed Racer and remove the camp anime elements that have given it it's rabid fan base. But from the first trailer I was sold, not only had the spirit of Speed Racer been preserved but enhanced.

Watch the first 7 minutes of the movie [Click Here]

Speed Racer is amazingly dense in terms of story and visuals, i can only describe what they have done as layers that peel... and peel... and peel... I thought it impossible to adapt a story out of the cartoons relatively thin story. You may have heard that this is a family movie (PG), but the movie is literally about family. Brothers, Sons, Fathers, Mothers, Girlfriends, and Chimps (I will get to the chimp later). As candy coated as the world looks it's the relationships that ring true and with a lot of heart.

What's an over the top movie with out an over the top plot. The plot is really there for the adults (it will just go over the heads of children and some adults). You can see that our hero is given a choice "Sell-Out" or have you and your family destroyed. The reason "Economics" and the business of racing, and as hero's are always motivated by love. We get a villain hell bent of the Racer families destruction.

Emile Hirsch (Speed) performs with truly present honest emotion. Emile's key performance give the world weight and reality, making the danger and the stakes feel real. Casting and performances are dare I say perfect to the Racer universe. Susan Sarandon (Mom Racer) surprises me with a heart felt genuine performance, the love and care for her son's just adds to heart on top of heart.

The Wachowski's continue to innovate in the visual arena, they attack in technicolor, pantone, and crayola. It's easy to just say "candy coated" but the balance between cartoon and reality is pitch perfect. The anime elements are replicated with enough realism as to not deflate the danger. The action is so rich that if you blink you might miss something. The car designs, the exotic locations, and Christina Ricci's (Trixie) costumes hold your/my attention and don't let go.

Paulie Litt (Spritle) and Chim Chim (The Chimp) companion give much need comic relief. With all the intense and heavy performances it's easy to forget your watching a family film. Spritle & Chim Chim jump in at the darkest moments to lighten mood and bring it back to fun. There is a moment at the end of the film were Spritle & Chim Chim stop everything and remind that your watching a movie for the kids and kids at heart.

I have really got to give it to Matthew Fox (Racer X) and Emile Hirsch (Speed). Both performances in green-screened race cockpits don't feel detached or empty, they are present in the action. You really feel as if it's happening right in front of you at sub-sonic speeds. And the mystery between the two makes the races personal and engaging.

Car-Fu is amazing; I can already see people imitating this, as it was with Bullet-Time the Wachowski's will have done it better. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to describe the choreography of each sequence, to their animatics/effects team. Hot Wheels and a video camera I guess. There is a fight in the snow that just perfected the anime translation, I again can see more potential imitators.

Speed Racer is an experience, if any movie could be described as a ride then Speed Racer is the standard. Verdict... Speed Racer, GO!!!

- Root Mazer

Read Dr. Venkman Review [Click Here]

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