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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
Browse more images »

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: No Speed Racer No!

L: Stewie_Griffin Well let's put like this, Imagine if The Matrix had flopped. Eventually it would have found it's audience because that is a truly great film. it also represents a real milestone in film-making, But if hadn't done as well is it did at the box-office, I doubt that other movies would have been so quick to ape the bullet time visual effect. The reality is that film-making is now ruled by commerce rather than art (Case in point, Any rent-a-hack c... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 14:58, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 If the Wachowskis were going straight for the jugular and were ] interested in making a profit, they probably wouldn't have chosen to adapt ure 1960s kid's cartoon show from Japan.And they probably wouldn't have taken such high risk decisions with regard to the film's aesthetic. sp; 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? ... More

Posted by sanchia at 09:11, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

Well let's put like this, Imagine if The Matrix had flopped. Eventually it would have found it's audience because that is a truly great film. it also represents a real milestone in film-making, But if hadn't done as well is it did at the box-office, I doubt that other movies would have been so quick to ape the bullet time visual effect. The reality is that film-making is now ruled by commerce rather than art (Case in point, Any rent-a-hack could get final cut on so... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 03:08, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Stewie_Griffin Well if you actually read my post you would realise that i wasn't calling The Wachowski's intentions into question, I certaintly give them credit for trying something that's the complete polar opposite of The Matrix. If there was one thing i got from the movie was they obviously have a lot affection (sp?) for the source material. Sadly that reverence for the source material didn't translate into a very cohesive movie. Let's face it, Warners only gave ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 01:42, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

Well if you actually read my post you would realise that i wasn't calling The Wachowski's intentions into question, I certaintly give them credit for trying something that's the complete polar opposite of The Matrix. If there was one thing i got from the movie was they obviously have a lot affection (sp?) for the source material. Sadly that reverence for the source material didn't translate into a very cohesive movie. Let's face it, Warners only gave them the money and the f... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 01:18, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: homersimpson_esq Put it this way - I gave Jumper 50% as I didn't think any of it was very good or very bad. There were elements that were great, and elements that were poor, but it averaged out at, well, average. Speed Racer was distinctly below average. If you want to equate my score to a more recognisable rating method, then it's just over 1 and a 1/4 out of 5. It was the race scenes that brought it up over the 1 star, I think. Funnily enough, after saying that John Goodman was ... More

Posted by max314 at 00:56, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

"Box office bombs have been influencial in the past.  My oft-cited unnera case in point. "       Well Max i'll take your point about Bladerunner as being a influential movie allthough it was a flop at  the time, But you could argue that Bladerunner was made at a time when film-making was at it's most pure, And films were not just made to order so they could make profit for studios owned by mulit-national corporations as they are today. I'm not saying that bac... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 00:02, 24 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

26% is generous!   ... More

Posted by Gimli The Dwarf at 23:30, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

Don;t get me wrong, Homer. I'm not saying you miscalculated or are wrong. Just that I think 50% would have been my result based on your criteria but that's me and 26% is you. No need for us to try and convince each other otherwise. ... More

Posted by Wilbert at 22:33, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

Put it this way - I gave Jumper 50% as I didn't think any of it was very good or very bad. There were elements that were great, and elements that were poor, but it averaged out at, well, average. Speed Racer was distinctly below average. If you want to equate my score to a more recognisable rating method, then it's just over 1 and a 1/4 out of 5. It was the race scenes that brought it up over the 1 star, I think. Funnily enough, after saying that John Goodman was the best thing in it, ther... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 19:51, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

Put it this way - I gave Jumper 50% as I didn't think any of it was very good or very bad. There were elements that were great, and elements that were poor, but it averaged out at, well, average. Speed Racer was distinctly below average. If you want to equate my score to a more recognisable rating method, then it's just over 1 and a 1/4 out of 5. It was the race scenes that brought it up over the 1 star, I think. Funnily enough, after saying that John Goodman was the best thing in it, ther... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 19:49, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Olaf He's Wilbert. I'm Olaf. ou lie! ... More

Posted by max314 at 19:49, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 L: Wilbert Well, It wasn't me that received the now famous "Harsh. Preposterous. Wrong." line.ou all look the same to me /quote] He's Wilbert. I'm Olaf. ... More

Posted by Olaf at 19:37, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Wilbert Well, It wasn't me that received the now famous "Harsh. Preposterous. Wrong." line.ou all look the same to me ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 19:34, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

MC has a point. Where's your calculations? ... More

Posted by Olaf at 18:36, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Wilbert L: max314 L: Wilbert You can't respect an opinion you find preposterous. You can respect someone's right to ] an opinion you find preposterous, but that's not what you said.ou gave in depth reasons why you have the opinion you have. So I respect it. But the ultimate score you came to was, in my view, "wrong", "harsh" and "preposterous".  The film simply couldn't be "26%" bad. ell, It wasn't me that received the now famous "Harsh. Prepostero... More

Posted by Manchurian candidate at 18:35, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 L: Wilbert You can't respect an opinion you find preposterous. You can respect someone's right to ] an opinion you find preposterous, but that's not what you said.ou gave in depth reasons why you have the opinion you have. So I respect it. But the ultimate score you came to was, in my view, "wrong", "harsh" and "preposterous".  The film simply couldn't be "26%" bad. ell, It wasn't me that received the now famous "Harsh. Preposterous. Wrong." line. ... More

Posted by Wilbert at 18:30, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

Come on guys, enough's enough. Stay on the topic of the film. If you want to continue this back and forth then do so over PM. ... More

Posted by Captain Black at 18:14, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Wilbert You can't respect an opinion you find preposterous. You can respect someone's right to ] an opinion you find preposterous, but that's not what you said.ou gave in depth reasons why you have the opinion you have. So I respect it. But the ultimate score you came to was, in my view, "wrong", "harsh" and "preposterous".  The film simply couldn't be "26%" bad. But I b] respect it because of the time you took.  If you'd just said "it sucks" and walked of... More

Posted by max314 at 18:05, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 L: Wilbert No, you're being ridiculous. A disagreement and being respectful are not contradictory. Calling someone opinion 'preposterous' and then saying you respect their opinion is. It's not very complicated, Max. Imagine The Architect explaining it to you, if that helps. 'd like the Architect to explain to me why you find it so difficult to understand how one can respect another's opinion whilst vehemently disagreeing with it. ou can't respect an opi... More

Posted by Wilbert at 16:42, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Vitamin F Judging by some other posts, 'the complete liberation of the cinema' unfortunately seems more appropriate...ote] You betcha.  More room to put yer feet up ... More

Posted by max314 at 13:47, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 The complete liberation of the camera. Judging by some other posts, 'the complete liberation of the cinema' unfortunately seems more appropriate... ... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:31, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Olaf Max, I'm not saying you can't have an opinion. Nevertheless, it is still disrespectful to brand somebody's review "preposterous" just because you disagree. I didn't enjoy it, but I didn't call your review "wrong" when I read it. didn't criticise his whole review.  In fact, I told him I appreciated and respected that he took the time to write it instead of just saying "it sucks". I simply thought that his shockingly low final score of 26% was, in my view, a preposter... More

Posted by max314 at 13:15, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

So you liked it then?  ... More

Posted by Heskin Radiophonic at 09:43, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: homersimpson_esq I put this in the John Locke thread, but it has relevance here too, and I can't help posting it again... [/quote]   hahahaha   Is it possible t ... More

Posted by Professor Moriarty at 09:41, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


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