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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
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

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

RE: RE:

The most colourful diarrhoaea anyone has ever shat. ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 00:36, 05 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I watched the Blu Ray version. this is a film which has a lot of potential but sadly it is not realised. I believe that this film was initially meant to be aimed at children with the bright primary colours and the inclusion of the irritating younger brother and chimp however a childrens film does not work if you have a diatribe against corporate corruption which goes on for a few minutes thrown in in the middle along with a convoluted and not particularly well constructed plot involving espio... More

Posted by sanchia at 20:19, 04 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Cleric John Preston Total Film has given it 2 stars. I haven't seen it, and don't intend to, just thought I'd mention it.  es its 2 stars, Speed Racer is not a good movie but TF is not the bioble of film review Total film totally chickened out of their Thor review big time, wouldn't give a straight opinion, sat on the fence probably waiting for other fan response and critic response so they can change their star rating when the dvd comes out...they can be many times worse tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGreenPlanet at 16:29, 19 April 2011 | Report This Post


Could have been way better !

It Was crap, but i liked the race at the end . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elimonator at 02:29, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: It's pretty shit

L: AboyNamedSue Sorry, but it's a mess. Saw it today. Overlong and tedious. Also, Emile Hirsch punches like a girl. Fox was good though. Iron man was a hell of a lot better - go see that twice instead. ainful to watch ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Globed at 06:22, 01 May 2009 | Report This Post


I read a lot of bad reviews and heard a lot of bad things about this so now, after buying the blu-ray, it was time for me to check it out. I`ll just tell you right away: I don`t know where all those negative words come from. Yeah, the story is uber predictable. Yeah, it`s style over substance and yeah, the bright colours hurt your eyes. But what else can you expect from a film like this? I thought the complete cast was good, the bad guys excellently portrayed and over the top and the action s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 01:01, 22 April 2009 | Report This Post


Thoroughly enjoyable

This is like Whacky Races for the 21st century. It's fast, well acted, sumptuous visuals and does not take itself too seriously. There is also no gore - so a horde of late teens will be disappointed. BUT - it is fun and send you out with a smile - and that's worth a lot these days... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 20:35, 10 April 2009 | Report This Post


Thoroughly enjoyable

This is like Whacky Races for the 21st century. It's fast, well acted, sumptuous visuals and does not take itself too seriously. There is also no gore - so a horde of late teens will be disappointed. BUT - it is fun and send you out with a smile - and that's worth a lot these days... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 20:35, 10 April 2009 | Report This Post


Thoroughly enjoyable

This is like Whacky Races for the 21st century. It's fast, well acted, sumptuous visuals and does not take itself too seriously. There is also no gore - so a horde of late teens will be disappointed. BUT - it is fun and send you out with a smile - and that's worth a lot these days... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 20:34, 10 April 2009 | Report This Post


Thoroughly enjoyable

This is like Whacky Races for the 21st century. It's fast, well acted, sumptuous visuals and does not take itself too seriously. There is also no gore - so a horde of late teens will be disappointed. BUT - it is fun and send you out with a smile - and that's worth a lot these days... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 20:31, 10 April 2009 | Report This Post


Awful And Just So Prejectable.

After seeing the trailer one too many times at the cinema and had the excellent dirctors of The Matrix, it had so much promise that I just had to see it for myself. But to my horror, I wished I didn't. Though the CG is stunning and clever to be done in green screen once again, the high ammounts of colour and the camera moving at a very fast montion could give anyone a feeling of nasua or a spliting headache. The car races are brilliant, gripping and awesome but you just know what happens at the ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:23, 02 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

rubbish movie ... More

Posted by Worldz at 17:27, 22 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Wretched Speed Racer

you could have edited most of the plot out and had a great film i loved the raving bits and the fight sequences the cars looked amazing ... More

Posted by horatio hornblower at 05:59, 12 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Wretched Speed Racer

you could have edited most of the plot out and had a great film i loved the raving bits and the fight sequences the cars looked amazing ... More

Posted by horatio hornblower at 05:58, 12 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Wretched Speed Racer

Looked amazing, I thought it was pretty damn exciting but I wish they'd not plumped for the cheesy kid's movie score. Some of the scenes are crying out for heavy guitars or banging dance tunes. It still would have been an enjoyable ride for the young-uns but the cool-factor would have been upped a good few notches for us oldies ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 14:12, 10 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Wretched Speed Racer

Looked amazing, I thought it was pretty damn exciting but I wish they'd not plumped for a cheesy kid's movie score. Some of the scenes are crying out for heavy guitars or banging dance tunes. It still would have been an enjoyable ride for the young-uns but the cool-factor would have been upped a good few notches for us oldies ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 14:11, 10 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Wretched Speed Racer

Looked amazing, I thought it was pretty damn exciting but I wish they'd not plumped for a cheesy kid's movie score. Some of the scenes are crying out for heavy guitars or banging dance tunes. It still would have been an enjoyable ride for the young-uns but the cool-factor would have been upped a good few notches for us oldies ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 14:10, 10 December 2008 | Report This Post


Wretched Speed Racer

Dull, without life or feeling. The camera moved so fast and abruptly that it was hard to concentrate and made me physically sick. Okay performances, bad plot, bad writing, and bad direction. Excellent SFX and visuals can't save this film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 15:36, 29 November 2008 | Report This Post


Awful Film With a plot thinner than a cigarette paper and headache inducing visuals i despised this movie no end Ok so it looked great but looking good and telling a good story have to go hand in hand. It comes to something when a Monkey is the best thing in a film A film which lands with a thud and stays there 3/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmburner30 at 12:49, 18 November 2008 | Report This Post


just fab !

I. enyoyed this movie in imax just ! fab... now have got the dvd ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by soulfood at 22:01, 13 November 2008 | Report This Post


Speed Racer

And they´re off.. into air battling in computer generated vehicles. Seeing a cartoon series that has little respect(for good reasons) getting a fair silver screen experience. The film has redeeming factors like Mathew Fox´s subplot and Emile Hirsch is a pretty awesome looking Speed Racer but the film is ultamitely like a better version of Spy Kids and the "kiddie" elements are very overwhelming. The effects make the viewer pretty aware of they are watching a computer generat... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AxelB at 18:22, 21 October 2008 | Report This Post


Go speed racer go!

Ok i wasn't really excited abotu this coming out and hadn't planned ot see it. But one day it was the only thing on, and we went in to the empty screen ( with only 3 other people) and sat down expecting nothing, some sort of cheerful kids film. I have to sya i thought it was amazing. The effects were mind blowing and although the plot lacked credibility. It was a beautiful film full of fun I think the effects were pretty amazing and in parts it was quite funny. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by missearl at 18:57, 13 October 2008 | Report This Post


Fuck The Plot

Speed racer trancends plot......... It just does.. Its about CINEMA........ Not plot... In the same way that impressionist painters begat "realism" for "feelings" DO YOU GET IT NOW??? NO?? Go and watch fucking Scary Movie then... This wasn't for you.... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by asha23 at 22:11, 10 July 2008 | Report This Post


James McTigue

Is the second unit director ERM>>>> HE DIRECTED V FOR VENDETTA IN HIS OWN RIGHT... THAT HE IS 2nd UNIT ON THIS MASTERPIECE SAYS IT ALL "You have to look with better eyes than that" - The Abyss ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by asha23 at 22:07, 10 July 2008 | Report This Post


EMPIRE ARE IDIOTS

If you can't appreciate the technical skill involved in pulling off this cinematic treat then I am going to stop buying your magazine.... "OOH BUT WE LOVED THE MATRIX..... " The Matrix is OLD..... Noody understood that at the time, (some pretended to) ... Same with Speed Racer.... IT IS A SEMINAL... 5 Star movie..... Grow up and accept that fact and you might just be 3rd rate film critics..... I cannot believe that you fools can't see the myriad intelligent refernces in thi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by asha23 at 22:03, 10 July 2008 | Report This Post


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