GO “Speed Racer” GO….or not

Genre: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/ Fantasy and Adaptation
Release Date: May 9th, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action, some violence, language and brief smoking.
Running Time: 2 hr. 15 min.
Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Director: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski

JJ Rating: B+

Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) races for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness within the world that is so heavily reliable on racing. Speed Racer.

A B+ is rather kind on my behalf to give Speed Racer. But because of the visuals that, by another critic, were like (paraphrasing) pouring melted Starburst into one’s cornea I give it such a high mark. And because of that statement I got some Starburst and ate them during the movie. Oh yeah. Visually it was like seeing fireworks every second on screen and being amazed at the spectacle that continued and even a bit awed by what can be accomplished with visual creativity, and sadden by what it takes away from the verbal. The script had nothing to do with the B+ I bestowed and everything to do with me not giving it an A. I found the script to be a tad under trying. It lacked the good ‘cheese’ that the cartoon provided and went for something a tad bit more serious in nature that really Speed Racer could never achieve.

The shock was the odd look of the neighborhood that seemed out of place in a movie that was mainly CGI. It seemed more cartoonish than necessary and to couple it with serious scenes that were elsewhere it just didn’t work well for me. But the races and the moves of the cars bouncing off this wall or climbing up mountain sides were just astounding. I loved the races. I thought I could watch that Mach 5 zoom around all day long. I want a toy Mach 5, how under my age I feel; way under. It would very much match my mentality.

It’s kind of cringe-worthy to hear vulgar language from a movie based on a very old cartoon. I would cringe when they started saying things that I don’t quite remember Speed Racer, or any Racer, saying. Simple curse words are simple in everyday speech but not so with a movie based on a beloved cartoon. That’s where it sort of falters too. That would go along with the wonderful lacking script. Sarcasm fully in use on that last sentence.

Ah the acting. I think that Emile Hirsch was a great choice for Speed Racer. The family Racer was cast well. Christina Ricci was a good Trixie and loved her “Hubba, hubba.“ But the great comedic relief was Paulie Litt who was Spritle. He just was funny with his facial expressions that made him a funny person to see and want back on the screen every time there was a moment without him. And I must mention Nicholas Elia who played young Speed Racer. He was very good. I love seeing the crowd cheering moment they also showed in the trailer, with him pretending to cheer for himself.

The end of Speed Racer gave the idea that the film was a set up for a second one, that is, I guess, if this one does well. According to what I saw in the theater I’d have to guess it didn’t do so well and won’t. But that’s sad because I think that the second attempt will be far better than this one. I think the Wachowskis will hear about what people didn’t and did like and they’ll fix it and the second one will rock.

Speed Racer was alright and a tad longer than necessary. That could have been fixed if they nixed some of the speech that the ‘bad’ guy went on and on about. Having big business as a bad guy is boring when done in a, well, boring manner. Kids don’t care about big business and this movie was very much for the children and not the adults. I enjoyed it still, but it could have been done better. I got excited during the credits when they played the new theme for Speed Racer. It was awesome.

I don’t know if I’ll purchase Speed Racer but I do know that not many will find it appealing enough to see and it’ll just fall further down the top ten and might be the biggest disappointment of the Summer. Fans of the Speed Racer cartoon may also be disappointed or not. It’s probably going to be a split with the not’s being slightly ahead percentage wise. Speed Racer would have been a more suitable blockbuster if it stuck with the name instead of becoming far too serious for it’s own speedy good. It should have stuck with the A.D.D. like mentality it was hinting at with every single trailer that was released. The movie sort of did the break go break thing that annoys me in traffic when all I wanna was Go Speed Racer, Go!

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