Thursday, January 8, 2015

Speed Racer

You could call this a guilty pleasure, but I don't think that would be a good term for it. I don't feel any guilt or shame for enjoying the 2008 film version of Speed Racer. Yes, it is cheesy. But would you really expect a serious film adaptation of the Speed Racer manga and cartoon? Maybe working against it are the names it's producers and directors, Lana and Andy Wachowski. The last two Matrix films didn't exactly do much for their names. And I'm still scratching my head over Cloud Atlas. But anyway...

Instead of trying to be experimental, with this film the Wachowskis kept things light and fun. The Racer family includes a chimpanzee after all. This is an origin story. We see where Speed makes his name and becomes a super star. I can't state enough the cheese factor in this movie, but for me it works. And it looks spectacular. I don't  know of any other movie that has colors this bright and vibrant outside of animation or dream sequences. And the details are amazing too. The cars are over the top and the tracks that they race on are even more so. Speaking of the cars,  the Mach 5 built for the movie is designed to be drivable. It was mainly used on green screen though.And all the cars, real and fake, look good. If you really want this film to jump out at you, see it in high definition.

There is the theme of corporate greed and corruption, but it's not heavy handed. The movie is meant for fun. There is also a stellar cast that seemed to enjoy not so serious roles. More known for his indie roles, Emile Hirsch is pretty comfortable playing Speed Racer. Trixie, Speeds helicopter pilot/highly skilled race car driver girlfriend, is played by Christina Ricca. Mom and Pops Racer are brought to screen by Susan Sarandon and John Goodman. The Mysterious Racer X is Matthew Fox. You might also notice a young preModern Family Ariel Winter as the young Trixie.

Not a lot of people seem to like this movie, but I think it is pretty well put together and a fun family film. It is not meant to be taken seriously. But I think it is a seriously good film that is way underrated.

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