Posts Tagged ‘Speed Racer’

Movie Review – Speed Racer

May 12, 2008

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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May Flix

April 29, 2008

Alright. Now we’re talking. The 2008 Summer blockbuster season officially kicks off on May 2nd. Sure, I’ve only been to the cineplex twice this year so far. But, that’s all about to change in May.

Iron Man (May 2) — Tony Stark is a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.

When I first heard that actor Robert Downey Jr. was cast in the role of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark I was on board. This is great casting. I probably never would have come up with that casting choice, but I’m glad that they did and I’m eager to see how Downey pulls it off. The original Tony Stark of the Iron Man comics has a lot of inner demons — how or if they’re addressed in the movies (Downey has signed on for three Iron Man flicks), and how the actor approaches them will be interesting to watch.

Speed Racer (May 9) — 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.

I have been waiting for a Speed Racer movie for over twenty-five years. Way back in the day I had my own ideas as to what kind of Speed Racer movie I would make and who which actors would portray Speed, Trixie, Pops, Racer X, and the rest of the Racer clan. No, I’m not going to reveal them here — I was fifteen at the time. Now, while what I have seen in trailers and clips may not be exactly how I imagined a Speed Racer movie to be, what I have seen has been mesmerizing and intriguing. This should be a great popcorn movie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22) — In 1957, Indiana Jones is thrust back in action, venturing into the jungles of South America in a race against Soviet agents to find the mystical Crystal Skull.

After Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably my second favorite movie of all time. (Star Wars: A New Hope probably clocks in at third.) Now, while I was content with probably never seeing an additional Indiana Jones adventure on the big screen after The Last Crusade some nineteen years ago, I’m glad Harrison Ford is reprising the role nonetheless. Plain and simple — if there’s an Indiana Jones movie, I’m there.

Sex and the City (May 30) — The continuing adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda as they live their lives in Manhattan four years after the series ended.

Alright, my cool-nerd factor just dropped with the mention of this flick, but it’s on my list of movies that I’m looking forward to. After having my girlfriend turn me onto six seasons worth of syndicated reruns I feel that I have committed myself enough to my relationship with the show that it warrants a trip to the cineplex to see the movie. Now, the question is… Is my girlfriend going to see the movie with her girlfriends, thus leaving me to my own device and having to go by myself?

Now, looking ahead, what does June have in store for us? The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, Wall-E, and maybe Wanted.

Which Race To Watch?

February 1, 2008

speed-and-trixie.jpgMany Californians were watching the Obama-Clinton debate from Hollywood last night. I wasn’t one of them. It’s not that I don’t care about the presidential race, it’s just that I was more interested in another race — that race being “The Fire Race,” episodes 16 and 17 of the original Speed Racer series.

You see… “The Fire Race” (parts 1 and 2) deals with the country of Kapecapek that wishes to close its borders to the outside world. This in turn does not sit well with the League of Countries, which demand that the borders be open. Of course a car race is declared to be the deciding factor as to Kapecapek’s foreign relations. If Speed wins the race the sequestered nation will be open to visitors. And, if that wasn’t enough pressure… the race takes place in the lava tunnels of an erupting volcano. Now that’s a race!

Yeah, I could pass on watching the debate guilt free. I’ve already made my decision and sent my mail-in ballot off last week. Now that’s about as political as my blog will ever get.

Here He Comes, Here Comes Speed Racer!

December 6, 2007

sr150.jpgI’ve been a Speed Racer fan for over 35 years. As a little kid of four or five I would gather around the television set with my friends (before the days of cable television) to watch Felix the Cat, Kimba the White Lion, and of course — Speed Racer. Even in high school, I would lament with my fellow geek pals about how someday when I was a successful motion picture writer and director (oh, the naivety) I would bring a live-action Speed Racer to the big screen. My choice to play Speed — Michael J. Fox. I kept the dream alive, and when Fox was too old to play Speed I switched gears to Frankie Muniz (who is now a full time Formula racer, hmmm…). Eventually I came to terms that I wouldn’t be a successful movie-maker (anytime soon anyway) and kept my fingers crossed that someday someone would bring a live-action Speed Racer to the big screen — and that it would be done right.

Well, now someone, or somebodies, to be exact, are doing just that. A live-action Speed Racer movie roars into theaters this summer from the Wachowski siblings. But will it be done right? I’ll give them credit for casting John Goodman as Pops Racer — brilliant! USA Today has offered First look: ‘Speed Racer’ wheels into live action. The online article features eight images from the movie, and… Well, they’re definitely colorful. The look of the movie appears to have a definite live-action “anime” look to it. The trailer is to be aired tonight on Entertainment Tonight, and then should probably show up online shortly thereafter. Early word regarding the trailer is that it is “different” shall we say. I will reserve judgment until I view it with my own two eyes — a few dozen times I’m sure.

Regardless, If the Big Newport Cinema currently had tickets on sale for the first screening I would have a pair safely stowed away until May 9, 2008.