Written and Directed
by The Wachowski Brothers
Running Time: 2:09
for sequences of action,
some violence and language.
Speed Racer was a mind-bending, hyper-realistic, non-stop action film that was so supercharged that when it slows down, it could put you to sleep.
Young Speed Racer dreams of only one thing: to be a racer like his big brother Rex. But when Rex tragically dies during a cross country race, those dreams may be shattered. When Speed grows up, he does follow in his brothers footsteps, almost to his detriment. The World Racing League is highly corrupt, lead up business owner Royalton. Royalton has a deal for Speed - join his team, or suffer the consequences. Speed refuses and his world starts to fall apart around him. Enter the mysterious Racer X, who is working with the police to help take down the corrupt WRL. Speed and Racer X team up to try and save the racing world, before the racing world destroys them both.
Speed Racer may have been the wildest visual movie I've ever seen. Right from literally the first frame, the movie takes a hold of you and never lets go. It's a bright, colorful world and we're just spectators. The world of Speed Racer is almost totally CGI. I don't know if much was real. The race sequences take place on tracks that only exist in video games. When we first meet young Speed, he's in the back of a classroom, daydreaming of racing. When he steps out of the school everything is straight out of the The Jetsons. It was a little disorienting to be honest. I wasn't sure if I was watching a video game or a movie. And as a note to viewers, sit far away from the screen. I sat closer than I should have and it was completely overwhelming. Everything is so bright and colorful, but also so fast paced that it was like being on a rollercoaster for almost the entire 2+ hours.
I say almost because there were a few problems with the movie. First off, the action sequences were so in your face, that when the movie slowed down to tell the story, it slowed to less than a crawl. When you're going 20 miles an hour and slow to 10, it's not very jarring and usually a smooth transition. But when you're flying around at 120MPH, slowing to 10 is almost painful. Whenever the characters would have conversations, I would come close to falling asleep. And part of it had to do with the story. It wasn't a very strong concept and at times kind of confusing. The visuals took up so much of your attention that forcing yourself to pay attention to what was being said was hard. And in the end, the movie was about a corrupt racing league, which wasn't all that world-changing.
The other problem with the movie is the characters. There are some notable actors in the film; Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci to name a few. Yet none of the characters had any life to them. Everyone was so boring and simple. Speed Racer was the least energetic and exciting character to lead a film I've seen in a long time. Mom was just a background voice and could have been played by anyone. Racer X had the chance to be really cool, but he too just stood around and said his lines in a monotone. Pops had a little life in him at times, but also was more of a background voice. The only character that had any sort of emotion and fun, was Speed's little brother, Spittle. And his monkey. There was a lot of monkey humor. But the humor was really childish and it felt almost like there was a movie being made and the Wachowski's decided they needed to make it funny for kids, so they added in the kid and the monkey as an afterthought.
The good thing about the movie is that it got better as it went along. After a while, you got used to the intensity of what was happening on screen and you're able to take it in easier. And as the story, as it was, came together and we could just watch some racing action, it got kind of fun. From the time Speed enters the cross country race, to the climactic finish, the movie moved along at a pretty good pace and I had a good time.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Speed Racer was decent. From a visual standpoint, it's something that should be seen. From a story standpoint, it was just OK. But all in all, it's definitely an original.
Netflix DVD Rentals. Only $4.99 a month. NO LATE FEES; Free Shipping. Try for FREE!