Come to think of it, let’s just call movie critics as a whole “morons.” How about this: Go see movies for yourselves, and make up your own minds as to whether or not they pushed the right buttons for you.
But back to the Wachowski Brothers’ Speed Racer: You may hear or read a lot of bad reviews about the film. Things being said will fall along the lines of…”Too cartoonish” or “too C.G.I.-looking,” or the most annoying yet “looks more like a video game than a movie.” Bleh.
Not to mention the fact that by catering its marketing to a VERY young audience, Speed Racer may not reach its audience and fail at the box office… which would be an awful shame, because it is actually a VERY good movie. You just have to a) completely embrace its style, b) leave your adult brain at home, c) embrace the insanely bold use of the medium, and d) understand the level to which this movie elevate the source material.
Yes, the movie looks like a video game in the sense that it looks nothing like our world. This may be one of the most colorful and purposely artificial movie you’ll ever see. The look of the film, with its unapologetic overdose of bright colors, its unbelievably blue skies and the very unique artificial look is part of its genius.
If you don’t like the look of movies like “Sin City,” “Moulin Rouge” or “300,” the visual style of Speed Racer may not be your cup of tea either. If, however, you can appreciate a unique visual style that successfully bridges the gap between the original source material and the movie adaptation, you can easily look at Speed Racer as an art film – which it so clearly is.
The movie is completely over the top in every possible way. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that the film is completely ridiculous. From the laugh-outloud chimp kung fu fantasies to Racer X punching another driver in the face while both cars are performing insane side-flip maneuvers at 500 kph, the movie completely embraces its cartoonish high octane nature – which is precisely why it scores. The Wachowski brothers obviously didn’t hold back here – and actually went above and beyond what lesser writers & directors would have created. This movie is as far out there as it could possibly be, and it is refreshing as hell to see a movie so uncompromisingly edgy and full of child-like enthusiasm.
Surprisingly, Speed Racer is absolutely not a brainless visualfest. The script is surprisingly solid, and the actors absolutely kick ass. Just as Robert Downey Jr. elevates Ironman through his inspired portrayal of Tony Stark, Susan Sarandon and John Goodman infuse the movie with perfectly metered and stunning performances during key scenes late in the movie. These moments are absolutely priceless bits of movie-making and bring unexpected depth to an otherwise escapist underdog movie. Matthew Fox shines as Racer X, Emile Hirsch is completely believable and endearing as Speed Racer, and I must say that Christina Ricci is actually pretty hot as Trixie. The kid brother and the chimp are at occasionally annoying (probably not to an eight-year-old though), but overall, they made me laugh alot more than I care to admit.
The Brandbuilder blog isn’t a movie review site, so I’ll stop here… but I didn’t want the bonehead reviews I’ve read today to negatively influence any of you – my readers – when it comes to this movie. Speed Racer is actually a work of genius. Most people probably won’t get why or how, but then again, edgy doesn’t appeal to most people. The masses will most likely look at Speed Racer purely as an over-the-top cartoonish movie version of a bad 1980’s anime series, aimed at pleasing little kids… but it is on every level an entertaining art film that blends stunningly rendered visual effects, lots of action, superb casting, solid character development, impressive acting, some pretty funny stuff, a classic underdog story, kung fu and chimp humor to create a very unique package.
Mark my words: This flick is nothing short of a classic.
Even if you end up hating Speed Racer, you should go see it – chances are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Bonus: Check out this article about the film’s technical aspects in Wired.