Speed Racer (2008)

Director: The Wachowski Brothers
Plot: The story begins with Speed Racer who is a young man with natural racing instincts whose goal is to win The Crucible.

Genre: Action/Family/Sport
Awards: -
Runtime: 135min
Rating: PG for sequences of action, some violence and language.




Speed Racer is a box-office flop, and one of most critically-busted films of the summer. Twenty minutes into the movie and I
understood why. Because I recognized the film's shortcomings early on, I was able to enjoy myself for the next two hours, immersing myself into a world that could have only been envisioned by the Wachowski Brothers. After the extraordinary success of highly original creations such as The Matrix and V For Vendetta (directed by James McTeigue), the Wachowskis decide to adapt a Japanese anime for their next project. In a way, they made Speed Racer their own.

The world of Speed Racer is an unbelievable mesh of neon-like colors and computer generated imagery. It's a frantic world that moves literally at the speed of light. The Racer family is a mixture of oddball characters that ranges from a hyperactive kid (Paulie Litt) to a Saddam Hussein look-a-like father (John Goodman) to even a cheeky baby ape. To be brutally honest, the acting is horribly shameful. Emile Hirsch is a pale shadow of himself compared to his last role as an explorer in Sean Penn’s Into The Wild. Rain (the reason teenage girls will cash in on Speed Racer) as a supporting actor provides eye candy but makes an absolute mess out of his role.

The Wachowskis uses a special kind of transition from scene to scene - close-ups on faces that glide horizontally across the screen - a throwback to the retro days of 2-D cartoons. Although it runs more than two hours, Speed Racer does not seem as long-winded as what many critics have blasted it to be. The plot and character development are trivial here; what one should look out for in Speed Racer are the stunning graphics and the absurd kung-fu car racing sequences. It's also one of the funnier action flicks this year, with ample laughs provided mostly by Litt and his pet ape.

However, Speed Racer lacks the substance to challenge the likes of Indiana Jones and The Dark Knight. It's like pitting Mickey Mouse against Mike Tyson. Many viewers have also complained that Speed Racer is too colorful, too CGI-ed, and too energetic for their taste buds. I agree that it will take some time to acquaint ourselves to such inventive pictures, but at the very least, Speed Racer entertains, no matter how ridiculous it seems to be.
SCORE: 7/10
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