Tweetnopsis: #SpeedRacer:Classic anime character races like crazy across psychedelic landscapes. Delectable visuals offset the cartoonish plot and chimp.
It might seem hard to believe – if this wasn’t an adaptation of the first Japanese cartoon to make it to the US of A, that is – but “Speed Racer” is not only the name of this film, but it’s also the name of the main character. As the gifted, racing-obsessed middle brother of the Racer family, Speed has risen to the top of the racing world and is on the brink of a championship, and the redemption of his family’s good name. At the heart of things, Speed Racer is all about race car driving. Beyond that, off the top of my head I think there’s an evil conspiracy to fix races in order to control the stock values of auto manufacturers in there as well, or something equally as inscrutable to the young audience that this film is apparently targeted at.
While some of the die hard fans of Speed Racer have been into the Racer family since the late 60s, my relationship with Speed Racer goes back to the days of the high def format wars. Having made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to wade into the 1080p waters until a clear victor had emerged, I had plenty of time to ponder over which movie would be my first purchase in the new format. There were plenty of candidates, but I finally decided that the perfect candidate to make best use of the high definition visuals was Speed Racer. What’s funny is that all I was basing it on was the trailer – the effects, Emile Hirsh and the Wachowski Brothers at the helm was all the convincing I needed.
However a movie cannot achieve greatness by special effects, a rising star and notorious director alone, just ask Michael Bay – or don’t ask him, I doubt he realizes this. When Speed Racer finally entered my collection (in second spot – Iron Man having jumped the queue as a birthday present) I became acutely aware of the films several shortcomings, even while I was marveling over the strengths I had anticipated. Yes, it’s aggravatingly targeted at the child audience at times, but the youthful primary colored look is irresistible. Sure, the performances seem pretty stilted (not Emile Hirsh or Susan Sarandon, mind you) but they’re right in line with wooden animated performances from back in the 60′s. Essentially you have to leave your cynicism at the door and accept that there’s gonna be some emotional moments that also involve a chimpanzee in a diaper. So no matter what the critics have said, or the middling box office returns have shown, or the confirmed act of animal cruelty that happened during the production of the film that I was only just made aware of, it is a visual bombast that exploits every last pixel of your HDTV, and I still get swept away by the way all the films get tied together in the final seconds of the last race. So it’s kind of two movies, although to most people it seems like only one – a bad one.
Uncles & Aunts: Transformers, Richie Rich, The Flintstones, The Matrix
Nieces & Nephews: Astroboy, GI Joe