Tuesday, May 13, 2008

go Speed Racer GO!

i wasn't planning on seeing Speed Racer. it looked like a kids movie. and not a very good one at that.

i was never a big fan of the cartoon, but to be fair, i never really gave it a chance, having only watched it 1-2 times as a teenager. though it always seemed cool (any cartoon that had a nemesis named "Racer X" works for me). but then the "retro is in" fad hit, which made it an instant turn-off.

then last Friday my lanky, often imbibing buddy Ankur started twisting my arm about it. and i was pretty sure i would not have anything better to do on a Monday night. so i became reluctantly interested. i started reading the reviews. RottenTomatoes.com (a great reviews aggregater, i'm surprised how many people DON'T use this) only gave it a 35% (% positive reviews out of ...well 100%). Peter Travers from Rolling Stone was not so kind (2 stars).

but then 3 things happened.
  1. i read this review from respected comic book blogger i read (ok, maybe "respected" is a little too strong, but i like this guys sense of humor + comics-sensibility in writing, having found his book reviews to be pretty close to my tastes...and that counts for something).
  2. i realized the movie was directed by the Wachowski Brothers (best known for their work on the Matrix trilogy). they apparantly continued their trend of inventing new effects their latest film creation.
  3. i randomly came across the following review excerpt from the Guardian.co.uk: " 'Imagine if the pod race in Star Wars Episode I was as bad as everyone said it was, and took itself twice as seriously, and went on for more than two hours,' writes Flickphilosopher's MaryAnn Johanson. 'Then add a wiseass monkey and his sidekick, an obnoxious kid, on top. Stir, and scream.' "
now how was #3 necessarily a bad thing?!? i seem to recall the one of the few POSITIVE things people had to say about Episode I was the pod race (that and the light sabre duels w/ Darth Maul).

i had to see the movie now. i went in seeking entertainment, great effects, and low expectations.

before i get to my review, here's the trailer:

boy was i was stunned. the story (themed around selling out VS doing the right thing, something i can probably relate to daily) actually held together the sometimes cartoonish scenes and situations. the frequent racing scenes had you braced back in your seat, and the acting was SOLID - Emile Hirsch (as Speed Racer, and yes, that's his first + last name), Christina Ricci (looking ridiculously good), Susan Sarandon (as mom), John Goodman (one of the most prevalent underrated actors, AND he takes on some ninjas in this film), Matthew Fox (as Racer X, he emotes some of the reluctant hero he's known for as "Jack" on Lost ), and of course Chim Chim (played by a chimpanzee, which is an ape, NOT a monkey). some of the in-between-the-action scenes make the movie stretch (it clocks in at 2:15), but without those scenes, the movie would have had no heart, which is really what makes it work.

anywho. great movie. if you like having fun at the movies (otherwise, this one is not for you). it gets a "Raman 5/5" (curious what other films have made the cut?- see this comprehensive listing of EVERY movie i've ever seen in theatres). definitely one you'll want to try to see IN theatres to get a full apprecaition of it all.

so what are you waiting for? go [see] Speed Racer, GO!


  1. Anonymous4:05 AM

    The Wachowski bros certainly put a lot of effort into making Speed Racer... but the movie overall looked and felt like a cross between anime, a kaleidoscope, that Flintstones movie, a video game and the Dukes of Hazard

  2. Anonymous9:30 PM

    Dude - Indy IV is next!

  3. ankur-
    i gotta wait on the lady-friend to see that one. probably memorial day wkd...


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