Sunday, May 18, 2008

Speed Racer Review

Speed Racer stalls and never really catches up.
by mr. b

I had gone into Speed Racer with a very open mind. Reviews and word of mouth were a mixed bag and I tried to not let them get in the way of my enjoying the movie. They didn't, and I still didn't enjoy it. There has been a lot of talk about the needless bashing of this film and how all the negative press is undeserved. Maybe so, but it still doesn't change the fact that this movie was unbearable to sit through.

Speed Racer, as played by the competent Emile Hirsch, is a rising race-star living in the shadow of his deceased brother. After turning down endorsements from a number of big name companies Speed manages to make an enemy in the biggest of them. What follows next is a formulaic story about shady corporate dealings and back stabbings which lead Speed to dangerous race after dangerous race. The story itself is standard blockbuster fluff, which I don't have a problem with, but it's execution was poor.

The much anticipated CGI sequences were, in actuality, the downfall of the film. Lost in the over-whelming, sensory numbing effects were an incoherent storyline and an all-star cast who phoned it in. All focus from the actors were lost in the neon glow of the sets and green screens. As hard as the main story was to follow, the stories within the racing scenes were even more difficult. Dizzying spins and blinding lights killed any kind of story that was trying to be told. I actually had to close my eyes for a scene were a number of cars went into a psychedelic cave.

Emile Hirsch, as mentioned before, played a conflicted Speed to the best of his abilities. His supporting cast was a disappointment. I've come to expect much better things from John Goodman and Susan Sarandon. Christina Ricci, however, manages to pull of a good performance and provides one of the movie's bright spots. They were few and far between though, considering everything else was so damn bright. Worst part of the movie? Spritle and Chim Chim. I cannot stress enough how much I wanted these characters to get run over. Annoying and needless is a pretty good way to describe these two.

The Wachowski's have a spotty track record, at best. I haven't been impressed with them since halfway through the second Matrix. I, for one, hope they can get their super secret Carnivore project rolling and get them back on the same track when they were making Assassins and Bound. Well, maybe just Bound.

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Todd said...

Wow. Love your blog. Hate your review. I'm not sure what you expected, but the movie is Speed Racer! I'll save you my full thoughts on the negative takes on speed racer, but you can check it out here:

Basically the movie is a wonderful update of the crappy old cartoons from the late '60s that I loved as a kid. I attended the movie with my two kids and they LOVED Chim-Chim and Spridle. The racing sequences were completely unrealistic --yet were fun and put me in the same frame of mind as I was when watching the old show at age 5. I loved the movie. Not much more to say I suppose.

mr. b said...

I, too, was a fan of the original cartoons, but it seems that I am in the minority when I said I wasn't a fan of the movie. Critics aside, the movie is being mostly well received by those who have watched it. As I said in my review, I had made the point to ignore all the bad press this movie had received and went in with no expectations. I just didn't enjoy it. Personally, I still love the cartoons but feel the Wachowski's failed to capture the spirit of them.

On another note, big fan of your site. Always nice to see a well written and intelligent sports blog.

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