May 12, 2008 at 1:10 am #1314
Another review I wrote for another site:
I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this one. I had never seen the original cartoon so I went into this film pretty fresh, though pretty much every internet movie site had already ruined Racer X for me as if his significance was common knowledge, Thanks a lot AICN I won’t spoil for you though.
Anyways, Speed Racer follows the adventures of a young race car driver called…yes, you guessed it, Speed Racer, in his quest to become the best driver in the world and take down the corrupt sponsors who effectively control the World Racing League.
Right from the start, it becomes clear that the big draw for this film isn’t going to be the story or the characters, but the intense visuals. The Wachowski’s have created a live action cartoon that is a true sight to behold and really is a visual feast. The combination of bright colours and mind bending action serve to create a world that is rich and vibrant. The Mach 5 tears across the screen, flipping and speeding and leaping its way to victory. Every movement is carefully choreographed as cars battle it out along the track in what has been described elsewhere as "car-fu" and it certainly is the movies greatest strength. But therein lies the problem.
You always know you’re going to get something exciting with the Wachowski’s. The weapon fight to the freeway sequence in Matrix Reloaded is one of the best action sequences ever committed to screen. But while the action was amazing, everything else suffered.
The same can be said for Speed Racer. The action sequences are great, if overwhelming at times, however I can’t single out a single performance and the story feels like it’s nothing more than a ploy to eat up running time between the action scenes.
Sure, it’s a film for kids, but you would still expect decent performances from the actors. John Goodman spends half the film in Fred Flintstone mode, Emile Hirsch shows intensity behind the wheel of the Mach 5 but struggles to be anything more than bland in any of his scenes beyond the races.
Susan Sarandon seems to be just making up the numbers while Christina Ricci, hot as she is, looks dazed and confused for the majority of the film.
The one character who might have been interesting was Racer X, played by Matthew Fox, but was ultimately a wasted opportunity. He starts off as a cool and mysterious character but quickly falls into the role of a mediocre member of the supporting cast designed to move the pointless plot forward so that the racing scenes have some apparent meaning that you’re not really going to care about.
If you have kids, they will enjoy the film and you may be entertained by the action scenes, but I can’t think of any other reason to see this film.
Visually, the film has some stunning moments, but the Wachowski’s failings as screenwriters shine through here as well as their inability to get anything above an average performance from their actors really comes through here.
Frankly, the plot and character moments are annoying…they are annoying because they make you wish you were watching on dvd so you could skip it and get straight to the racing scenes.
I’m struggling to think of an adequate final score for this film…I gave Iron Man an 8 although after a second viewing, I think I would go back and give it a 7.
I don’t but the argument that I should be lenient on Speed Racer because it’s a kids film…Lion King is a kids film and I consider it to be a great movie. Plus, the Wachowski’s didn’t try to dumb it down, which is a credit to them. It’s certainly a film designed for everyone…but the reality is, if you’re over 13, you may find yourself wanting the characters to just shut up and get to the race.
This is a mediocre film, and while it is vibrant and colourful and while the action can be breathtaking at times, it fails to gloss over the glaring flaws of this film.
Therefore I am forced to give Speed Racer a final score of:
If you’ve got young kids, take them…if not, wait for dvd unless you live near an IMAX. It might be worth seeing the film there despite the flaws, purely for the visuals.
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