Speed Racer


"...see Speed Racer with a Ritalin prescription you love."

- Ningen

Speed Racer (2008)

Director: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

Writer: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

Cast: Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox

Running Time: 135 min.

Plot: See review below.


NINGEN'S REVIEW: Emile Hirsch plays a one-dimensional guy named Speed Racer who teams up with a random Korean guy played by Rain and a myterious racer named X played by Matthew Fox to take down The Man (aka Royalton) through competitive car racing. Royalton likes rigging the results of said races in his favor through the use of brutal violence and insider trading or something; I lost track of the plot about 20 minutes into the film when the script spent more time discussing stock options than showing me driving. And you know how the six of you who saw "House of the Dead" hated the way Boll would interrupt each gun-fight scene with screen-shots from the game? Well, I guess it goes to show that, if you have a big budget, you can fool people into thinking that kind of visual mess is "innovative" and "ahead of its time".You see, instead of pretty pictures of CG cars zooming, we get people's reaction shots, and even floating frames of their faces. If you got a kick out of getting ten minutes or less of actual fighting per (hundredth) episode in DBZ, then you'll love Speed Racer.

The rest of us, however, want to be entertained. We get it, already, Larry and Andy: You love anime. But you don't seem to get that when the Japanese juxtapose certain contrasting images together, it's generally meant to create a mood and set a tone for the rest of the picture, not to get in the way of the action. Speaking of action, it's clear that without Yuen Wo Ping, the brothers' fight scenes don't mean a thing, as we're stuck sitting through Adam West-style combat moments which are too long and too pointless.

But the real problem is there's too much focus on characterization, and not enough on the races. I don't care what makes Speed and his family tick! Nor do I care about the history of any of the car manufacturers. If you're gonna make a kiddie flick, you keep it simple-not turn it into a soap opera! (I guess one adaptation wasn't enough for the brothers to ruin....)

The car races themselves are disappointing for the reasons that there are too many of them at once, and the models of the vehicles and the drivers all start to look the same after a while. Plus, the emphasis on fast-forwarding the physics makes whatever money was spent on backgrounds and detail work pointless. Basically, sitting through each race is the equivalent a Hollywood action film which shoots its fights scenes too close: You can't tell what's going on, and you start to not care anymore. You just get a bunch of colored lights meshed together after a while. In conclusion, see Speed Racer with a Ritalin prescription you love.