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Speed Racer – Movie Review

May 12, 2008

Speed RacerSpeed Racer is a cinematic cocktail of Science Fiction, Action Adventure and Fantasy…so despite the fact that neither Racing nor Cars do much for me, the movie struck a chord. Not only because I love those genres, or because the movie is a visual treat and one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in recent times, but also because it made me feel something. Not many Hollywood movies do that for me but two things in this movie get you all emotional. One is the underlying theme of filial love and family values and even more important – the passion that one needs to have for what one does…in this case Racing.

Sure, I agree with most reviewers when they say the plot isn’t worth talking about but inspite of that one is not disappointed…now how many movies can keep you glued to your seat without a credible plot and that too for two hours fifteen minutes? The focus isn’t on the plot at all. The story is simply used as a tool to showcase the beautiful colourful glitzy fantasy world of racing cars that is so alive that the cars can double up as ninja fighters and the racing tracks blaze and daze, taking you on a lunatic roller coaster ride. Half an hour into the movie I felt a little dizzy.

The movie is not all animation…all characters are real actors. It’s the background (including the cars) which is completely animated. That not just adds a fantasy like atmosphere to the movie, it makes everything believable because right from the start we are sucked into a fantasy world where anything is possible. Suspension from disbelief works at its best. We are drawn into a vortex of a world where racing cars zip through the air, performing unimaginable stunts. Everything is more than a trifle exaggerated, including the way the characters are presented. They have been photofinished to look almost like cartoon characters and even the way they behave is slightly extreme.

The story opens with our hero Speed (Emile Hirsch) as a kid in school. He has a passion for only one thing in life – racing. He fails at everything else but despite that has the complete support of this family. Speed’s dad (John Goodman) is an idealistic car designer and maker and elder brother Rex a racing car driver who Speed idolizes. Everything turns topsy turvy when a tragedy befalls Rex and a villain in the form of the head of an evil corporation (which makes racing cars) pops up and offers to “buy” Speed. After that it’s all up to our young hero. He has to do his stuff and prove that racing isn’t about money, it’s about the passion and talent for driving, and he proves it in heroic style.

I was a little surprised that the New York Times trashed this movie because usually I agree with theirSpeed Racer 2 reviews. They didn’t like the movie because it didn’t have a credible story and was far too melodramatic. I think the movie is too melodramatic for western tastes…but at no point in the movie was I looking for any kind of realism. Heck, it’s pure fantasy taking place in a futuristic world. The directors make no pretense at realism.

The movie is a technological extravaganza (cost 120 million to make), and the unusually bright colours that literally explode in your face alongwith the clever editing and amazing stunts that never leave you with a dull moment. There’s a touch of humour too in the form of Speed’s younger brother and his pet monkey whose antics which are sprinkled liberally throughout the movie.

The movie is a remake of a Japanese cartoon (anime) series and written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski, the Matrix people. That itself meant something to me as The Matrix is one of my favourite movies of all time.

It’s a movie that adolescents and kids will enjoy and some adults too, if they are like me. If you want to see a movie because its realistic, then forget about it! And oh yes, this movie isn’t worth seeing on video. You need a big screen.

Speed Racer 3

Related Reading: More Movie Reviews
Review of Iron Man

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2008 2:59 pm

    Thanks for this review, Nita! Seems to be a cool movie . . . I want to watch it as soon as possible! I simply love those high quality Hollywood movies about science fiction, action adventure, fantasy, animated characters, racing and cars . . . Gone in 60 seconds and The Italian Job are some of my all time favourites!

  2. May 12, 2008 10:50 pm

    ur a true theatre / cinema buff

  3. oemar permalink
    May 13, 2008 5:09 am

    Very descriptive review Nita, but I ve had enough of those kaliedoscopic movies with flashing lights and cars….. the trailor looked very good though… but then all the movies’ trailors look good… even 10,000 BC which made me pull my hair.

  4. May 13, 2008 11:08 am

    One of my friend saw it and he also said the same thing that there was no story. But I still would love to see it just for the special effects. :) Hope I get someone to drag to the theatre with me. :)

  5. May 13, 2008 11:30 am

    Thanks all for your comments.

    Raj, it is a very cool movie. I loved it!

    Prax, right on!!

    Oemar, somehow I haven’t seen any movie of this quality or even anything similar. That’s because usually I don’t see car movies, usually I don’t like them at all. So for me it was novelty!

    Amit, if you don’t see this movie you are missing something!

  6. soorajrox permalink
    May 15, 2008 10:53 am

    I totally agree with you.
    I used to watch the japanese anime Speed Racer when I was a kid and equally enjoyed Speed racer-the movie.

    I did read about Speed Racer in rottentomatoes before going for the movie. I was ratted rotten but inspite of that I went for it and it was loads of fun. Loved it.

    I saw the movie early in the morning at cinemax versova, apparently I reckon I was the only adult who laughed for all the funny scenes of sprittle and chimp-chimp(along with so many other kids)

  7. May 20, 2008 12:54 am

    Nita, imagine -I WENT TO SEE SPEED RACER!!! – bacause of your review :)
    We wanted to see some film and,looking thorugh the list, found nothing good… and then rememberd your review… – it was the right choice! :)

    I really appreciated your ´tipp, because apart from the bright colours which I like, we loved to see the family values placed so high… We enjoyed a lot!

    Your rewies are always so good that I want to see all of the films, but can manage only one or two. Thanks anyway! :)

    Axinia, thanks. I am so glad you liked it. Sometimes I worry when I recommend a movie because my tastes could be different. – Nita.

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