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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Christina Ricci
John Goodman
Susan Sarandon
Scott Porter
Richard Roundtree
Emile Hirsch
Matthew Fox
Roger Allam
Susan Sarandon.
Directors
Andy Wachowski
Larry Wachowski.
Screenwriters
Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski.
Running Time
TBC minutes

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Speed Racer
Faster, less intense!


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Plot
Driven by the legacy of his late brother Rex (Scott Porter), who died behind the wheel, Speed Racer (Hirsch) teams up with the mysterious Racer X (Fox) to fight race fixing in the whirlwind world of motor sports he so loves.


Review
Speed Racer
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You’ve got to hand it to the Wachowski Brothers, they don’t do things by halves. They were last seen cramming the back-to-back Matrix sequels so full of references to obscure anime, classical fantasy and Jean Baudrillard’s philosophy of symbolic exchange and hyperreality, it was the first known sighting of ‘dumbing up’. The films became interminable. They have now arrived at Speed Racer, once known as Mach Go Go Go, an anime TV series from the late 1960s that spilled into the daydreams of American boys.

Word has it - and they never talk - they were weaned on its brilliantine Scalectrix-world of loop-the-loops and banking curves, its bright buzz of colour and characters equally defined in bold rudimentary tones.

This was not your typical anime huddled beneath clouds of apocalyptic menace; here was a sun soaked, sweet-wrapper coloured universe obsessed with motor sport, centred on the conveniently surnamed Racer family. In particular, the full-throttle adventures of middle-son Speed, a dumb-lug who can make the T-180 race cars leap and spin, smashing competitors in what the directors have knowingly christened ‘car-fu’. Nodding to both Goldfinger and Ben-Hur, the cars come armed with naughty extras like drill-loaded hubcaps and oil slicks.

With its ‘60s vibe, gleaming like a fairground, this would surely be the shimmering antithesis to the heavy-duty karma of Neo’s man-machine meltdown. They were making the first living cartoon. And to that end, they have succeeded - the film is triumphantly visual, often thrilling and entirely shallow.

Of course the whole enterprise is predicated on its race sequences, four in which we behold the awe-inspiring clamour of gravity-defying 400mph propulsion - byzantine sugar rushes of light and movement simultaneously realistic and unbelievable. Rather than a film using CG, this is CG as the canvass for a film.

During the talky, thinky, inbetweeny sequences, as Speed and family thrash out their troubles, all the hi-def digital yahoos have been bent to replicating the actual hand-drawn animation of the original series. Actors are posed against a flat background, 2D in fact. There is something of the Baz Luhrmann about all of this - that revelling in your own artifice. A strange sort of endeavour for a movie.

Outside of the Benetton-sprawl of CG, the brothers fall prey to their worst tendencies. Why is a film about a good-looking boy winning car races so hard to follow? The storyline stops and starts like a damp Cortina, stuttering on endless flashbacks and sub-plots, and long, rumbling monologues from the Dick Dastardly of the piece, Mr. Royalton (a hammy Roger Allam).

The human level of the film is squashed not just by the techno-jam, but also by the pop-crazy mood in general. With his rockabilly quiff and propensity for acting with his chin, Emile Hirsch is a spit for Elvis, whose stick-it-to-the-man teen exuberance feels like another touchstone. Fox, Ricci, Goodman and Sarandon do their best, but it’s tough to seek out truth when you’re dressed in a leather jumpsuit or pink dungarees. And if it were not so deliberately juvenile, or so relentlessly perky, one might raise an eyebrow at its antiquated view of women.

Any comedy is provided by Spritle (Paulie Litt). A Racer scion evidently short on racing genes, being silly and too unshapely for car leathers. He comes accompanied by a hyperactive chimp called ChimChim who’ll make the under-eights squeal, but really is no more than a poor animal dressed in a hat.

So where do we stand? The film brims with ideas and invention, staying true its ambition of the living cartoon. And that’s just it. It’s a cartoon. Hyperreality. Baudrillard’s going to love it.


Verdict
It’ll split the ranks like a pizza cutter: you might admire it as a Warholian blur of pop art, gawp and gasp at its Hot Wheels-for-real dynamism, or get a headache.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Speed Racer
Empire Star Rating

speed racer

The reason to see Speed Racer is for the special effects the Wachowski Brothers have used. The bright, surreal colours used imply a fantasy world that they are familiar with after creating The Matrix Triology. The film appears to be marketed at a target audience of teenagers, but with the competitive car chace elements, appeal to an older audience. The use of actor Emile Hirsch and Matthew Fox attracts the female audience where as the fast car are for the stereotypical male audience. The plot of... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by em599 at 19:49, 20 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

Where do you begin with a film like this, a film that from a distance looks like a combination of LSD covered skittles, dipped in sugar and candy floss, topped with hundreds and thousands. Well, it’s probably a good idea to get it out of the way and just say I liked it, though I can see why a lot of people won’t and because of this I am very surprised it got made in the first place (Especially at the cost). A main-stream budget ($125mil +) with a very indy audience. As a review, it’d ... More

Posted by ripblade at 13:10, 20 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

L: max314 I sooooooo cannot wait to see it again...  Next viewing's gonna be at IMAX.  I hope /quote] I know i've had my reservations about this movie, But i'd happily sit through it again just to see how it fares on IMAX. I don't envy the projectionists though, Sounds like you need a degree from NASA just to run the things. Plus the prints are mega expensive, So if you've scratched it, You just bought it. ... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 21:24, 30 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

L: R W All in all, this is a triumphant return of the geeks that brought us The Matrix trilogy. Go, Speed Racer, go! wesome quote]ORIGINAL: sam89 I saw it again today - and I stand by my 5 star rating. I probably enjoyed it even more the second time  sooooooo cannot wait to see it again...  Next viewing's gonna be at IMAX.  I hope ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 18:38, 30 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

I saw it again today - and I stand by my 5 star rating. I probably enjoyed it even more the second time  ... More

Posted by sam89 at 22:30, 29 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

Directors/Screenwriters: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski Starring: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Paulie Litt, Kick Gurry, Rain, Roger Allam Synopsis Speed Racer (Hircsch) drives the Mach 5 to not only save the family business, but change the world of racing forever. With the help of his family, as well as his girlfriend Trixie and the mysterious Racer X (Fox), Speed tries to stop an evil organisation by competing in The Crucible. Review ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 16:02, 29 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

visually stunning, artistic directing an it captured the heart of anime. fast paced full of action gone in 60 seconds. Just like anime wachowksis = genius ... More

Posted by alamo1 at 22:21, 27 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE:

Visually very good, even though a shade intoxicating at times, plot, did'nt have a clue about the plot, something todo with corrutpsion.    This movie limps in with a 3 score. my kids found the fight sceans funny. ... More

Posted by ScottiE at 09:41, 27 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE:

I give it a 3. Visually its very good, the races are great, however where it fails is the plot, its quite confusing, I don't think lot of the kids, such as my two who are 7 and 4 will have a clus about the plot. and this is the traget audionce, In someways thought the visually and colurs used are quite intoxicating. Good fun, could of been better but OK. just dont go in expecting to see a masterpiece becuase you wont. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ScottiE at 09:28, 27 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Rather Good

I live here, but I don't think I've ever been to the Empire.  The few times I've gone to see a film at Leicester Square I always go to the Odeon.  Which is cool, too.  Saw Royale  Front row balcony seats And they have the old skool ushers! lad you liked the film, lker It is ridiculously fun ... More

Posted by max314 at 16:14, 26 May 2008 | Report This Post


Rather Good

I was trapped in london last wek with a few hours to kill and thought I would pass the time by watching this. I had followed the build up over the previous few months and really didnt care, especially after reading the review, but as I have seen just about everything else and the timing was right though I would pop in. and. Its really good, Its not going to win any awards for writing acting or directing, but for pure, switch off your brain popcorn entertainment the film just clicked for me. Lo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sleepwalker at 14:22, 25 May 2008 | Report This Post


I was trapped in london last wek with a few hours to kill and thought I would pass the time by watching this. I had followed the build up over the previous few months and really didnt care, especially after reading the review, but as I have seen just about everything else and the timing was right though I would pop in. and. Its really good, Its not going to win any awards for writing acting or directing, but for pure, switch off your brain popcorn entertainment the film just clicked for me. Lo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sleepwalker at 14:21, 25 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: You will feel the need for Speed!

One of the most visually colourful films in years,this may be empty,is certainly overlong and has at least three characters who really don't need to be in the film,but makes for great escapism.  The onslaught of bright colours  for a terrific sensory experience and many of the attempts to translate the texture and style of anime to the big screen really work.  Rather underrated generally,with the race sequences generally thrilling and lots of quirky and amusing touches.  Rem... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 11:43, 25 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: You will feel the need for Speed!

I've never had a problem following the action in the Bourne sequels and i actually think there are some truly great scenes in there for the action thriller genre. I always thought the hectic camera work gives them a punchy and gritty look, But hey to each their own. You're probably right about United 93, But you really need a special kind of director for that job, And i really don't rate Liman that much, Apart from of course Identity and Swingers. If i ever use the word Cohesive again, I'l... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 00:59, 25 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE:

b ... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 00:52, 25 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: krudler e fucking hell were they doing with all that money?aking a car chase that puts the freeway scene to shame? 'm sorry...did you say "seen"?  Cos I couldn't make out what the fuck was going on during that chase. umh swash of incomprehensible shit can't hold a candle to rix Reloadeddard-setting car chase. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 22:09, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

e fucking hell were they doing with all that money?p; making a car chase that puts the freeway scene to shame? ... More

Posted by krudler at 19:57, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Wilbert No, Max, they are unappreciated masterpieces and the story was just too complex and went over your head! Sound familiar?t sounds familiar because someone just cited that a couple of days ago with regards to Indiana Jones! nd it's actually a valid argument.  Sometimes a film can go for a certain vibe, but it doesn't "click" with you.  In other words, you don't "get" it.  It goes "over your head".  And I conceded with t probably did go "over my head"...which i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 19:39, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 No, while I'm aware that people are ejaculating all over Bourne 2 and 3, I'm afraid I have to cast a dissenting vote.  They were really mediocre.  Though they did have some neat action scenes, even if they were fucked up by shitty camera work. No, Max, they are unappreciated masterpieces and the story was just too complex and went over your head! Sound familiar? Only joking. I agree with you about the first Bourne film and the sequels not being up to scratch. ... More

Posted by Wilbert at 19:23, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Stewie_Griffin Thought this was a discussion about Speed Racer e] You're wrong!  It's what I choose it to be! This is my world!  MY WORLD! Sorry...I'm just so happy I only have one exam left uck...my exam! quote]Anyway i rate Ulitmatum and Supremacy over Identity anyday, Allthough Identity is a fine fine film. Greengrass just has the astounding ability to stage a compelling and cohesive action scene whilst employing the hectic camera work technique (sp?). I don... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 19:18, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

Thought this was a discussion about Speed Racer y i rate Ulitmatum and Supremacy over Identity anyday, Allthough Identity is a fine fine film. Greengrass just has the astounding ability to stage a compelling and cohesive action scene whilst employing the hectic camera work technique (sp?). I don't think you can call his camera style as energetic as his as lazy and abysmal, But hey it's your opinion. Plus i think Greengrass got a better handle on Bourne's charchter development and emotional turm... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 18:22, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 ...I don't subscribe to the stupid arbitrariness of the Bond Vs. Bourne "arguments".  I'd rather judge each series on its merits, ofar as RoyaleI think it's overrated.In that sense, I put Royale]Batman Begins same boat: good, but not as good as everyone seems to think.  Royalewed.  The first half of the second act (all the Elipsis stuff) was perhaps the weakest stretch of the film.  The film really begins to come into its own during the poker game, and you sud... More

Posted by sanchia at 17:22, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: krudler it was probably more to do with the fact they're great movies than people were sick of matrix type action, the bourne series managed in 3 movies what bond took 21 to do, a credible spy thriller xcept they weren't "great movies".  Not the second two. Liman's original /i] was really great.  A 4 star film with a fresh, realistic, noirish flavour. Greengrass's installments were criminally over praised.  The only reason I can think why people liked them wa... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 16:53, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

ple soon got tired of that stuff,  hence the stupidly undeserved reception of stuff like Paul Greengrass's "shake it as you make it" /i] installments.  Yet the mark of rixeniablep; it was probably more to do with the fact they're great movies than people were sick of matrix type action, the bourne series managed in 3 movies what bond took 21 to do, a credible spy thriller ... More

Posted by krudler at 15:05, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: sanchia It is extremely well known in the US and has a massive following over there so I am not too sure where the obscure bit comes into it.  Maybe in the rest of the world? don't know about the "massive following".  I'm sure there are people in their 30s and 40s who remember it, but it's possible some of them have grown out of it.  I reckon if Silver had got it made in the early 90s when he got it, those people would be in their 20s and 30s and may have pulled ... More

Posted by max314 at 15:02, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


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