Sunday, June 01, 2008

Speed Racer review

You know, I hate to be one late to the party, but it looks like this one was set to be a bust. No one, and I mean no one seems to have found it in their hearts to see Speed Racer this summer. And that my friends is a real shame.

This weekend I stepped into my local cineplex and threw down for a film that I have been really captivated by the marketing for, but wasn't sure on the actual translation to film. Sure a commercial looks great, but would ti work for 2 hours on screen?! The answer in one way is a mostly so. I think for a large eclectic audience, and one of younger kids, or older adults this film might be an honestly tough slog. Unfortunately for the kids, its plotting is kinda of slow despite the insanity of the visuals. And unfortunately for the adults its like a two hour acid trip while listening to Break On Through by The Doors over and over again. BUT that mean, for me it was absolutely and totally perfect!

I can't comment on this movie really other than my personal experience, not with any authority at least, and for me personally this film was frickin sweet. I saw the film, to my brain addled delight in IMAX, and seriously thought that I was going to have a seizure more than once. It is frenetic. It is tripped out and insane. It is such a fast and candy coated awesomely crazed mind fuck that if I didn't just let myself roll with it I think my head might've actually exploded. The colors, the camera, the set design, and the lighting, the movement, and the CG. Everything in this film works like clockwork together to create a picture that is so totally cohesive in its insanity that it somehow fits perfectly for the Wachowski brothers. There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that this film is exactly what they intended to create, and they have brought their considerable talent directly to the honed point of the Speed Racer film experience with as much clarity as any of the Matrix movies. That is definitely something to be commended.

What I loved about Speed Racer was the whole package, it was the absolute best kind of sensory overload, but you have to go in prepared for an experience akin to eating a bowlful of sugar and running around in circles. The movie has action, plenty of action. The racing in this movie, which lets face it is the heart of the plot for a racing film is unreal in its awesomeness. Yes it doesn't seem 'realistic' but its very real and very believable for the world of Speed Racer. I don't know how to describe how awesome the races are, because theres not really much to compare them to. They have plots to themselves. Each and every race in the movie has a character, and a lively story, that goes beyond just whats happening to the individuals or the setting. The races themselves are stories. Here's something I'd recommend if you can, go pick up a copy of Star Wars: Episode 1, a film I bet a lot of people own despite the fanboy bitchiness towards it, Then put it in and check out the special feature that shows the entire uncut podrace sequence. Grab some popcorn and sit back to watch a 25 minute race that is absolutely fantastic. Say what you want about Episode 1, but simply on its own the podrace (the full podrace mind you) is fantastic. Probably never should've been in the film as it was, but just on its own it is a great story. And that's how I felt watching these F-Zero-esque, Hot Wheels inspired races in Speed Racer that kicked all sorts of ass. For the race sequences alone this film is worth watching.

Aside from the races and the look though, Speed Racer has a lot of heart. The story is sweet and the characters have both depth and development throughout the film. This is a movie that while sometimes predictable, was always entertaining, and had a nice message. Its a film that I think should play well in a family setting, once everyone gets past the visuals. And thats the note that I think plays most importantly in Speed Racer, both to its benefit and its detriment. The visuals are so jaw dropping that it'll be hard for a lot of people to just sit back and appreciate them for what they ultimately are, a device to tell a sweet and simple story of a loving family overcoming their problems together.

I hope people see this film. I hope kids can handle the 135 minute running time. I hope adults can look past the practically non stop flashing assault of light and color. This is a film that will be dearly enjoyed, if it can find its audience.

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