Friday, May 9, 2008
I swore off the cartoon after seeing it only a couple of times when I was a kid. I didn't like the animation style, it wasn't funny, and I just thought it was stupid. And before you go all "omgzwtf iz wrong wit u" I was like 7 years old and pretty much only liked the Ninja Turtles (proof). Going on that, I watched the new Speed Racer movie from the Wachowski brothers with virgin eyes. I have no idea if they screwed up any characters, relationships, names, or major storylines. But if the Wachowskis wanted to make a successful movie, they would have to be able to please both newbies like me and the rabid fanboys. I'm not so sure how the fanboys took it, but in my book, Andy and Larry Wachowski certainly wound up with an enjoyable movie.
Side note: IMAX to me is like Wal-Mart. I only go when I absolutely need to. I don't need to see Harry Potter, I Am Legend, or Charlie And The Chocolate Factory on the biggest screen in town. I have only wanted to see two movies thus far in IMAX, including this one (the last one was Transformers, which is the reason IMAX was made, in my opinion).
I wanted to see Speed Racer for nothing more than the visuals. The story didn't really interest me and I knew it was going to be cheesy. I wanted my head to explode with fantastic eye candy. I wanted fast cuts, bright colors, speeding cars, and crazy digital effects only accomplished by filming in front of a green screen. And that's exactly what I got. The previews for Speed Racer don't lie. It's an almost non-stop roller coaster. But one of it's downfalls was it's length. Going on for over 2 hours, it couldn't be a completely constant barrage of headache inducing visuals, otherwise people would, well, get really bad headaches. So while there was plenty of action, there was a lull here and there where I got a little bored. Not much, but enough for me to notice.
Speed Racer is great, and I love it (more than Iron Man, the only other summer movie to compare it to at the moment). Only in this day and age can a movie like Speed Racer be successful. The pre-ADD generation wouldn't stand for such relentless visual bombardment. Speed Racer is a Saturday morning cartoon on speed, or more specifically, a show that could easily be found on Adult Swim.
There were a few times where I actually laughed out loud, but not very many. Spritle and Chim Chim were less annoying than expected and seeing Hiroyuki Sanada was a pleasant surprise. And thankfully, this isn't a kids movie with adult/pop reference jokes in it like every digitally animated Dreamworks movie to date. It's just a straight up kids movie that adults can enjoy either due to nostalgia or the dazzle factor. There was one joke, however, that strayed from the norm. After the Racer family is attacked by ninjas, Trixie sees Pops throw one of them out a window and says, "Was that a ninja?" Pops replies, "Ninja? More like a nunja. It's amazing what passes for a ninja these days." I died laughing. Hearing that come from John Goodman was priceless.
I could have dealt with a little less story (the Racer X bit at the end was totally unnecessary, borderline unbearable) and maybe a little more cheese. At times, I was surprised to see it taking itself too seriously. Not enough lines like Christina Ricci doing her best soap opera impression with "Move it, Speed, it's getting ugly out there" and too many Kodak moments. But when you see race track wall panels with "running" zebras that look like they're straight out of a William Horner Zoetrope, you kind of stop caring. And the last race? The Grand Prix? Oh man. I haven't seen such an acid trip climax like that in a mainstream movie since....well, maybe never.
So clearly Speed Racer is meant to be a popcorn flick. Nothing more than a summer blockbuster with little substance. If you like the idea of mixing rainbows and race cars, then you've just found your movie.