Friday, May 9, 2008

Speed Racer

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.


Craig Kennedy said...

I loved it, but I have to admit it was probably a bit too long and it did have one or two slow spots.

Still, it was fun and cool looking. I wish I'd gone to see it in IMAX like you did though.

nick plowman said...

I cannot wait to see this, and I really wish there were more IMAX theatres in SA, I will probably have to settle with seeing this on a normal screen :(

With all my complaining it would seem like I am a really negative person, which I am not, I was just born in a country that s SO wrong for me.

Cannot wait to read your review, come 20 June.....don't worry, I have saved the link.

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Speed Racer, also known as Mach Go Go Go (マッハGoGoGo Mahha Gō Gō Gō?), is a Japanese anime/manga franchise which centered on automobile racing. Mach GoGoGo was originally serialized in print form in Shueisha's 1958 Shōnen Book, and was released in tankōbon book form by Sun Wide Comics, re-released in Japan by Fusosha. From 1967 to 1968 it ran as a television series in the United States, with 52 episodes. Selected chapters of the manga were released by NOW Comics in the 1990s under the title Speed Racer Classics, later released by the DC Comics division, Wildstorm Productions under the title Speed Racer.

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The Original Manga. In 2008, under the name of its Americanized title, Speed Racer, Mach GoGoGo, in its entirety, was re-published in the United States by Digital Manga Publishing and was released as a box set, used to commemorate the franchise's 40th anniversary and also served as a tie-in to coincide with the 2008 film. It was published under the title Speed Racer: Mach Go Go Go as part of the company's DMP Platinum imprint. The actual television series itself is an early example of an anime becoming a successful franchise in the United States, which spawned multiple spinoff versions, in both print and broadcast media.