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[DVDVRMC] SPEED RACER (Wachowski Siblings, 2008)


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SPEED RACER

(Wachowski Siblings, 2008)

 

IMDB

ROTTEN TOMATOES (39%)

WIKI

METACRITIC (37)

 

I am old and forgetful so I couldn't remember if this or Cuthroat Island won so you get both.

 

My 8 year saw it this summer as part of a trip during Summer Camp. His review

 

"It was Ok. I only remember the bloody parts".

 

So there ya go.

 

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I... do not remember the bloody parts.

 

The awesome, mind-melting phantasmagoria of the final race, yes, but no blood.

 

I haven't seen it but that could be what he was talking about

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It's quite underrated, in my opinion. A great homage to the original. And John Goodman has the best fight scene EVER. It does help to have seen the show to have context for the ridiculousness, though.

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I'll write a longer review when I am not at work, but I firmly believe that this movie is actively good, and gets shit upon because people were going to say the first non matrix thing from the siblings sucked no matter what. The movie was really weird for the time; it was very much an homage to early 90s kids movies like TMNT, with very little in it for adults, a pretty broad message, and lots of music, bright lights and fast things. People didn't really want that after they had seen things like Shrek and Toy Story and the Incredibles, which were kids movies that appealed to both generations. Also, I have to tip my hat to a movie where the message is basically "Talent gets you far in life, but The Man will try and fuck you no matter what". The scene where Speed tells Pop that its all a work is actually really heartbreaking. 

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 gets shit upon because people were going to say the first non matrix thing from the siblings sucked no matter what. 

Why would the first movie since the trilogy get shit upon when Part 2 and 3 got shit on enough? :-)

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gets shit upon because people were going to say the first non matrix thing from the siblings sucked no matter what.

Why would the first movie since the trilogy get shit upon when Part 2 and 3 got shit on enough? :-)
I think I said it poorly. After the atrocious Matrix sequels, the wachowskis could have made the greatest movie ever and people would have said it sucked. Kind of like M. Night after Sixth Sense: the next couple were met with anticipation, then caution, and finally scorn and rightfully so. After two terrible sequels to a movie that aged horribly, the siblings were never going to get critical acclaim on their next project.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I watched this with a friend and was immensely disappointed with it.  Part of this probably stems from a guy on another board talking about how it was a life-changing film for him, and a landmark in filmmaking that will be ripped off and admired for years and how the plot was the very essence of good versus evil and all this stuff.  Then I saw it and it was a very colourful live-action cartoon with a ham-fisted good vs bad guys plot we'd seen millions of time and a whole lot of mugging from some kid and his monkey.  In fact, the only real positive I took away from the film is that Christina Ricci was born to play anime characters come to life and was entirely too saucy and sexy for this movie.  I mean, the post-fight scene where she comes jiggling into frame??!  Ridiculous.  I can imagine a lot of fathers watching this with their kids and being like "Hmm, at least something good came of this film!" 

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  • 2 months later...

Whoopsy, I meant to post this old review here a LONG time ago.  I ain't rewatching it, because honestly fuck this movie, it's one of the ugliest and most visually unappealing things I've ever seen in my life and it literally gave me a headache to watch it.  But anyway: 

 

 

Speed Racer: 4/10
Why didn’t I hate this more? I mean, it’s the worst fucking movie ever. It’s so stupid, it’s so ugly, and it drags on for a truly punishing length of time. I would never, ever recommend this film to any other human being. So why did I get a sneaky sense of enjoyment out of it? The visuals are hideous, the script is bullshit, the special effects are sometimes shockingly bad, and the unspeakably terrible editing contains some of the very worst cutting and transitions I have ever seen in my entire life. It was made by the frigging Wachowski Brothers Siblings, a duo noted for the unfailing tendency for every one of their movies to be much worse than the previous one. On top of all that, it’s barely within spitting distance of being a faithful adaptation of the old cartoon. I should despise this trash. This should be an easy 1/10. Why did I come away feeling halfway entertained?! 
 
Speed Racer, as you may have perceptively guessed already, is about a kid named Speed Racer (Emile Hirsh). He is a race car driver. He’s really good at it. He pines for his older brother Rex, who died in a car race. That’s about as deep as his character gets. Once Speed makes his professional debut, he is shocked, shocked! to discover that professional sports are often fixed. After turning down the offer of a rich corporate sponsor (I believe his name was Heely von Villain, but don’t quote me), Speed is forced to race for his life against a variety of colorful stereotypes in order to protect his family. 
 
Before we get to the rest, let’s look at the acting here. When freaking Matthew Fox as the mysterious Racer X turns in one of the better performances in the movie, that ain’t so good. Hirsh is basically a Ken doll in the lead role. Even worse, Susan Sarandon seems lost as his mother, and Christina Ricci never figures out how to get anything out of her part as Speed’s sexless platonic girlfriend Trixie. There are a whole bunch of various ethnic bad guys (hey, funny how the lead heroes are all white Americans, and none of the main baddies are white Americans) who fail to make any impression, no matter how wildly they overact. And the less said about the cutesy little comic relief boy, the better. The one guy who is actually really good here? John Goodman, of course. He’s seriously trying his hardest as Speed’s dad, managing to flood the character with more sincerity and dignity than should’ve been possible in a retarded flick like this. 
 
And now to the bad parts. Grab a Snickers, this is gonna take a minute. First of all, whenever we’re not looking at one car crashing into another one, this movie looks like SHIT. This is one of the most atrociously unattractive movies ever made. The colors are all made of bright neon, and they all clash horribly, and it’s entirely possible that you could actually get a real-life headache from just glancing at this horseshit (I sure did!). There’s a shit-ton of CGI, I mean a George Lucas amount of CGI, but not at George Lucas level of quality. No, this film appears unfinished at parts, with the flatly lit actors clearly standing in front of a green screen. It just doesn’t look right. This would be bad enough in the racing scenes, but it happens in all the damn talking scenes too! And my god is there a LOT of talking. This movie goes well past two hours, and the actual parts with cars probably make up only thirty or forty minutes of it. The rest is the worst fucking dialogue you’ve ever heard, from wide-eyed actors who mostly have no clue how to deliver it. 
 
But the worst, the fucking dirt worst is the editing. For some reason, this movie loves its extreme closeups of people’s faces. Furthermore, it has this mind-numbing tendency to randomly superimpose someone’s face over footage of something else. Like, you see Racer X’s giant head spinning through the frame of a racing scene. This happens so often that you couldn’t even make a drinking game out of it, I’m talking dozens if not hundreds of incidents of this shit. The pacing is awful too, frequently jumping away from the action for no damn reason, for extended periods of time. “No, I’m certain the audience doesn’t want to watch this live-action version of F-Zero, they’d much rather see what shenanigans the fucking kid and the fucking monkey are getting into back at the house.” It does that over and over! My god, this was unbelievably bad cutting. 
 
Another problem: this is one of those Children’s Movies written by adults, who’ve totally forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. Thus, it’s pandering and condescending, like a cheap rented clown at a birthday party. In fact, it’s even more juvenile than the old 60s anime it’s based on. Hey everyone, what was the one thing which made the original Speed Racer show different from every other children’s cartoon? Yeah, that’s right, people DIED in that show! Like, a lot. Mostly bad guys, but often supporting good guys and innocent bystanders as well. You see where I’m going with this, right? Yep, absolutely not one single person dies in this entire movie. (LOLSPOILER older brother Racer Rex isn’t dead.) This is bad enough in general, but it’s even worse coming from the fucking Wachowskis, who preached to us in The Matrix that murdering any random innocent person who got in your way was a heroic and laudable act. 
 
Yet, despite all that, I kind of liked it. WHY~?! Oh, I hate myself. I just laid out a whole bunch of reasons why this movie is poop, and yet at the end of it I didn’t feel like I’d entirely wasted my time. The racing scenes are occasionally fun, in the parts where you can tell what the hell is going on anyway. They’re really illogical, to the point where it’s not a joke to say that Talladega Nights had much more comprehensible and realistic races where it was much easier to discern the strategies of individual drivers. But I still liked ‘em here! Why. Why oh why. Someone help me. Please.
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After two terrible sequels to a movie that aged horribly, the siblings were never going to get critical acclaim on their next project.

WAT. The original MATRIX is still the shiz, bro.

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I maintain that the original Matrix is a stone-cold masterpiece, a nigh-perfect meld of abstract philosophy and badass action.  Yes, its effect has been incredibly watered down because it was SUCH a cultural sensation, so that absolutely everything that came afterwards either ripped it off, mocked it, or actively tried to be different from it.  But the first movie is still freaking awesome, even despite the questionable subtexts and all the unfortunately inconsistent acting and dialogue.  

 

Heck, I still like Reloaded more often than not.  That freeway marathon fight remains one of the more spectacular action setpieces I've ever seen; and honestly, what the hell ELSE do we want from a freakin' scifi action flick other than lots of great asskickings and fiery explosions and innovative special effects?  And those were all top-notch here, and there were several other fights which were also pretty cool.  Admittedly, I seemed to be the one guy on the planet who actually LIKED the rave scene, so maybe I'm a majority of one.  But it did kinda have that Empire Strikes Back feel where they're definitely not just remaking the first movie, they're trying new shit; and I'm always a sucker for the middle part of a trilogy ending on a really depressing and stressful cliffhanger.  

 

As for Revolutions, I'm gonna steal someone else's line: "I felt like a parent with that movie.  I wasn't angry, I was just disappointed."  It felt like Stephen King syndrome where they just couldn't figure out a punchline which was anywhere near as epic and cool and brilliant as the entire setup was.  We did at least get that giant "cyberpunk Helm's Deep" battle between the squidbots and the minigun-toting powerloaders, which is better than nothing.  But "nothing" is a good succinct description of the emptiness I felt for the downbeat conclusions to too many of the main characters' stories.  Did they NEED to make the final body count so damn high and the finish feel so inconclusive, really?  

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I maintain that the original Matrix is a stone-cold masterpiece.  

 

You're damn right, it is.

What really stands out about the original, especially in light of the sequels, is how deftly it handles the philsophical stuff. It's downright breezy compared to the latter two, especially RELOADED, where the action frequently grinds to a halt so characters can recite PHI 101 textbooks to each other.

The sequels are just a classic case of not having anybody around to say "no." Even the best writers need editors, and, dear God, the Wachowskis were in dire need of SOMEONE to step in and say, "This character isn't working," or "Not every character needs a 5 minute philosophical monologue," or "What the fuck? Really?"

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There never should've been any Matrix sequels.

 

As for Speed Racer, it was perfectly acceptable for what it was.  Dialogue was pretty corny and acting was horrible, but if you are honest with yourself you can see past that because the characters in the cartoon were pretty wooden as well and the dialogue wasn't exactly Shakespere. 

 

When you were a kid watching Speed Racer on television, It was all about the cars and the races and the goofy fight scenes (If you did not mark for the John Goodman / Pops Racer airplane spin, you're lying) and the Warchowski Brothers delivered on that big time.

 

Christina Ricci was absolutely adorable as Trixie. 

 

008SPR_Christina_Ricci_005.jpg

 

If she didn't do it for you, you're probably dead.

 

There were two unforgivable things in this movie.  One was the treatment of the Mammoth Car.   It deserved more than a weird cameo. And two, this movie needed to be trimmed down to two hours or less so that there were fewer moments of silly dialogue and more moments of the Mach 5 zooming across the screen or thugs punching Sparky.

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