Speed Racer (2008) Wachowski Brothers

Production Budget: $120 million
Worldwide Gross: $51 million
DVD Sales: $14 million

Yeah, I f*cking bitched about the trailer and I go anyway. I deserve everything I get. Okay so we spend about $180 million dollars to bring this anime to life and it can be summed up by saying…meh. Now this isn’t the case of me going in expecting sh*t and having that taint my view of the movie. I actually heard some good audience reviews and thought it might be cheesy popcorn fun.

The movie is a visually dazzling. The Wachowskis use the full color palatte to bring this CGI filled world to life. And the races can be fun at times with twisty turny, futuristic tracks. This reminded me of the F Zero games with cars going 500 mph around loopty loops and tunnels and other crazy sh*t. The real problem sadly comes with the piss poor direction. The special effects sometimes hinder the action, much like in the Star Wars prequels (I’m not going on another SW rant dont worry). What I mean is there is sooooooo much going on and so many things struggling to get our attention, that we can’t focus on the real action. It is a huge dizzying blur of technicolor crap flying at the screen and my brain can’t process all that info. There were times when I didn’t know who was doing what and who was racing who.

The other, and sad to say, CRIPPLING problem with the races are with the direction. We will be having our races (which I said before were fun and interesting) and we will sharply cut away to something else. There is not one race we see all the way through. We will get scattered racing footage cross cut with flashbacks, talking scenes, flashbacks to scenes that already happened in the movie, flash FORWARDS, and other scenes of pointless dialog. This kind of directing hurts BOTH scenes because it takes us out of the action of the racing scenes and we are taken out of our element with the talking scenes. This is hard to explain but let me try to give you an example. Let’s take the boxing match between Rocky and Apollo Creed. What if during the climactic last fight we cut from the fight to have a scene between Apollo’s manager and a tv executive talking about how much money they are going to get from this fight. Or if Rocky flashes back to the scene in the ice rink where Adrian and Rocky are having their date. Or how about Karate Kid, where Daniel and Johnny are having their last fight. Right before Daniel gives the Crane kick he has a flashback where he meets Miyagi for the first time. Distracting, isn’t it. Not only do the scenes we are cutting to don’t work, but all the action of the fight scenes are sucked out and the audience is left frustrated. Don’t you get it? I actually LIKED the races, and the Wachowskis just couldn’t leave them be. They had to f*ck them up!

The one character I loved was Racer X and Matthew Fox stole the movie. It’s either bad writing, or bad directing: either way, it’s bad when I want the movie to be about Racer X and not Speed. Speed is just soooooo bland a character and has absolutely no personality. Another problem with the writing is they spend so much time having the Racer family pondering who Racer X could be. A 5 yr old in the audience shouted out “THAT’S SPEED’S BROTHER!!!” when Racer X showed on screen for the first time. When a 5 yr. old can figure out your BIG twist 10 minutes into the movie, your writing sucks. But really the whole plot is bloated. At 2 hrs and 15 minutes, there are a lot of scenes that could have been cut out. This is a movie that should not overstay its welcome. The acting of the cast is overall good, it’s a shame the dialog is so hamfisted and clunky.

The whole thing is a shame because there are times when I WAS getting into the movie, only to be taken out by shoddy writing, lousy direction, and overloaded visuals. People might say this is a movie to take the kiddies to, but I would disagree. I would rather recommend they see Iron Man than this. I asked this before and I’ll ask this again: why did we have to spend $180 million on this? You know a movie that had a similar cheesy cornball feel but actually did it better was the Sylvester Stallone movie Driven. I would actually rather watch that again than Speed Racer. This was for all the advertisements and the hype a mediocre movie.

Again, looking back a year later.  I still feel this is a pretty film, but too long and the plot gets in the way of the great action.  Now the movie actually has a strong cult following (even among this forums members) and while I shake my head at their claims its a “masterpiece” I can see it being an entertaining popcorn flick.  That’s all.  Why try to elevate it to more than what it really is.  Its a pretty and fun racing movie.  If you were to ask me if I would recommend it or not I’m still not sure what I would say.  It depends on if you think the stuff in the trailers appeal to you.  If you were not impressed or into these kinds of movies I don’t think this will change your mind.  But I figure if its on Dish Network one night and you have nothing better you can see the first 30 minutes and see it it appeals to you.

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