Speed Racer — (7 stars)
Born to race cars, Speed Racer is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolized – the legendary Rex Racer, whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill. Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer, the designer of Speed’s thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company’s maniacal owner but uncovers a terrible secret – some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless moguls who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits. If Speed won’t drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that the Mach 5 never crosses another finish line.
Wow! Two movies in one week. I’m on a role. Unfortunately, the second movie I saw this week didn’t quite measure up or live up to expectations as well as the first. I wanted to love Speed Racer. I had been anticipating a big screen Speed Racer movie for well over two decades. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t like Speed Racer, I just didn’t love it — but I did like the movie. I probably couldn’t recommend the movie to everyone. I have a special attachment to to Speed Racer, and if it weren’t for that I probably would be as critical or ho-hum as some of the other reviewers out there.
John Goodman is spot-on as Pops Racer. Christina Ricci is adorable as Trixie. And, Emile Hirch pulls off a great sometime brooding yet driven Speed. The visuals are stellar — no doubt about that. But, rather than drive the shortest distance from plotpoint to plotpoint, the movie seems to take more than enough detours.
I remember talking to my other movie geek buddies in high school (over twenty years ago) about how there should be a live-action Speed Racer movie. Is the Wachowski Brothers’ movie the same kind of Speed Racer movie I would’ve made. No. The thrilling car acrobatics and strong sense of family were there, but the movie seemed as if it couldn’t quite make up its mind as to what kind of movie it was aiming to be. It definitely resembled a “family film” — but the over two hour length and the involved of corporate take-overs and industrial sabotage seemed a bit complicated for a “family film.”
It’s a shame that Speed Racer opened up a week later then, and under the shadow of the much more impressive Iron Man.
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox
Written and Directed by: Wachowski Brothers
Produced by: Joel Silver, Grant Hill and the Wachowski Brothers
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action, some violence, language and brief smoking.
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