Review of Speed Racer

Speed Racer (2008)
an adrenaline rush with major flaws.
9 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have been a fan of this show since it first air in late 60's and early 70's when it aired in syndicated TV. So, I was eager to see this movie. I knew it was going to be actioned packed, insane stunts, and manic pacing and I wasn't disappointed. This film is an adrenaline rush.

*********WARNING THIS IS WHERE THE SPOILERS START*************** It remains true to it's original concept and the characters don't stray that much from the original show except Trixie (played by Christina Ricci). Trixie has a great catty tomboy side to her that is a welcomed addition to the character. There is on scene in the film where she is in the race car and you can see her get excited and aroused by the action and trash on the cars. At the end of it, she displays this little smirk that tells audience that she loves what she is doing. That smirk is worth a billion dollars. Hmmmmmm a girl who loves her work, what we all like.(Don't worry, they do it very cleanly, After all, this is a kids movie. They are not completely insane.)

The story is the typical small independent vs the corrupt conglomerate Industrialist bad guy who cheats and breaks the rules storyline. Gee where have we heard this story before???????? It also has another cliché and that is a family dishonored by one of it's family members and seeks to regain the family honor and to foil the cheats. What gives the story depth is the family living with the dishonor and Speed's attempts for personal honor while seeing his naivete being stripped from him. and there is one of the flaws, The mobsters and the mobster drivers. They are all of the worst type of comical stereotype characters possible and not even remotely convincing. There is one scene that was ludicrous of where the Mobsters are in an office with a tank full of Piranhas which turns out to be in the trailer of a semi truck and it is attacked by Racer X in his car. Great effects but unbelievable scene. There is another implausible scene at the beginning of the film where a jet somehow lands in the middle of the street but somehow doesn't trash the lawn. Gladly these implausible parts are all in the early parts of the story but when MR, Royale explains the "other" history of racing, the story tightens and the action revs up and makes the film and enjoyable experience.

Since this film is based on a cartoon, the colors and the sets are made to invoke the world of the cartoon like when Warren Beatty had the same technique with the colors in the "Dick Tracy" film for the same reason. This film has one eye popping visual special effect after another in it so fast and gives the audience little time to rest between effects. All of them are done unbelievably well. Expect this film to be nominated for an Oscar for the shear amount of effects. The film is one long special effect. The races course look like that they come from a video games which was not bad since the film is a cartoon world. In fact, I think one course came out of the race course in the "Racing The Clock" episode of "Reboot" and another that came out of my Wipeout 64 video game.

This film is definitely style over substance.

But there is where the other problems come in with the special visual effects. There is one scene at the beginning where Speed is remembering his older brother. At one point he imagines himself behind the wheel of a cartoon car, and there is another point where Speed's brother Rex is standing against a background with fake clouds that was so cheesy that it was pathetic. Then there was these two completely unnecessary special effects shots where Speed's little brother Spindle strikes a martial arts poses and then there is a second or two of him being an Anime character flying through the air attacking someone - dumb. And then there is the talking heads that the Wachowski Brothers had used as wipes across the screen. For those who don't known what a wipe is, it is a stylistic transition change from one shot or scene to another with transitions other than a simple cut. One of the many forms of the wipe is to have an object move from one side of the screen to the other, with the old shot or scene being transitioned from on one side and the new shot or scene on the other side. The object in this case was close ups of talking heads. It happens every five minutes in the film. There must about a hundred of them and it is annoying. After the twenty millionth one, I felt like going over to the Wachowski Brothers house and personally un-install the effects software from their computers and not give it back unless they promise to never use it again. The wipes, the mobsters and the fake clouds are the reason I gave this eight stars and not a full ten. And if I think about it any more, I'll probably lower it even further.

I liked everybody's performance, but I was a little disappointed by John Goodman's performance. I felt he could have done Pops a little better.
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