Just got back from a sneak preview of "Speed Racer" the movie courtesy of a friend of mine (thanks, Amira!). As the first film directed by the Wachowski brothers since the "Matrix" series, "Speed Racer" has had big expectations riding with it.
Is "Speed Racer" an evolutionary leap in filmmaking? I don’t know. Is it a silly badass film? Hell yeah.
"Speed Racer" looks incredible from beginning to end — from the shiny
pretty cars, to the fun 60s era clothing and decor, and the general
Crayola palette of everything. Every scene is clearly composed of actors
performing in front of a green screen, and yet I was never pulled out
of the action thinking that "he’s not really steering a car" or "the
background is not really there." Instead everything has a cohesive
cartoony sheen to it that blends perfectly. (I.e. not "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" or any of the "Star Wars" I, II or III.)
The acting was fine and for the most part unremarkable, with the
exception of some nice work by Susan Sarandon as the mom. The boy and
monkey are purposely annoying, but not so much I wanted to kill myself
every time they took up screen time. Emile Hirsch as the titular
character is earnest and passionate and handsome. Christina Ricci is
somewhat wasted in the girlfriend role, but is always lovely and quirky. Racer X is stoic and kicks butt.
What’s best about the film is that it gives you what you came for: lots
and lots of racing. There’s almost no downtime — the action is
furious from beginning to end. All of the car tricks and effects are
perfectly executed. With all of the swirl of colors and moving
objects, the Wachowski’s masterfully slow down the pacing enough so
that you know who is doing what amidst the constantly weaving, jumping
and crashing vehicles. No small feat.
There are some nice homages to the original series, from some anime-esque dream sequences and fight scenes to screen wipes done with people’s faces taking up the entire frame. The final lap of the final race is classic anime "Speed Racer" brought up-to-date.
I will forget pretty much everything about the film tomorrow. But it was a blast while it lasted.