Review of 'Speed Racer'

speed_racer.jpg The directors of the Matrix trilogy turn their hand to making a live action version of the classic “Speed Racer” Japanese animation series.

Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is the brother of the famous car racer Rex Racer who died in an accident. Speed is determined to become the racer that Rex was and, perhaps, to surpass him. Speed is loyal to his family-run racing team headed by “Pops” (John Goodman) who has designed and maintains Speed's Mach 5 racing car. Speed is offered a job by a large multi-national company and has to make a choice as to whether he wants to take it. Of course, there is the obligatory girlfriend (Trixie) but it is largely talking to “Pops” that Speed generally talks with. Comedy relief is provided by the child “Spritle” (Paulie Litt) and his pet chimpanzee “Chim Chim” (when was the last time you saw a performing chimp in a film, honestly? 1980s?) whose antics I found a bit tedious but will keep the (likely) younger audience amused.

The movie appears to be set in an alternate reality that may be a bit in the future from the one we know but very similar in many ways. The racing appears to defy the laws of physics as the racers speed through loops and hop across incredible distances (never mind the fantastic offensive and defensive weapons). Of course, this is the point: It is a real-life imagining of the world of the original Japanese animation and it very much does that and, in many respects, certain exceeds the quality of the effects, plot, and acting. The look of this movie is incredible: The brothers have said they were looking to re-create the “flat” (cartoon) world of the original animation and have largely achieved that. The over saturated colours also help to add a feeling of unreality to the whole thing. The acting, to be expected, is not fantastic but adequate to keep the movie going. Goodman's performance is spot on while Susan Sarandon as “Mom” is a bit too over the top and slightly awkward in execution.

This is a movie squarely aimed at children though I think that adults will find it's incredible bright and frantic style appealing (particularly those fans of the original Japanese animation). I think that children may get a bit bored in parts (particularly with the not exactly simple plot) but will be wide awake for the fantastic driving sequences.

I liked it. I am not sure if it is everyone's cup of tea though…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2008-05-14

Directed by: The Wachowskis (Andy Wachowski; Lana/Larry Wachowski)

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Year: 2008

Length: 135 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by The Wachowskis (Andy Wachowski; Lana/Larry Wachowski):

Other reviewed films by The Wachowskis (Andy Wachowski; Lana/Larry Wachowski) and Tom Tykwer: