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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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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

Being a 30 year old woman and therefore probably not part of the target market for this, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not. I'm very pleased to say that I loved it! Okay, the storyline was rubbish, the female characters had very little to do except look pretty and the small child/monkey were very irritating, I sat there with my mouth open for most of it as it looked so fantastic. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jammyemma at 12:46, 22 May 2008 | Report This Post


2nd Time Around

Saw it again last night (courtesy of a certain soft drinks brand promotion), & still enjoyed it. I understand that some people don't like it, but to be honest, I don't care, because I do like it - very much. That last race is spectacular in a full digital presentation. Looking forward to the DVD release. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Karl Crutchley at 09:51, 22 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] Great work Homer, as always. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LEEJGM at 17:22, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post


Go Speed Racer Go....

and never return.   This film was dreadful. Annoying to look at and way too long. The kids in the audience (3 of them) all got up and left within the first hour, if only I'd followed suit. There is so much to hate here, but I'll save my largest chunk of hatred for the infuriating cutaways to that bloody awful fat kid and his chimp. Horrendous: 1 star. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 16:33, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

I put this in the John Locke thread, but it has relevance here too, and I can't help posting it again... ... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 10:30, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: porntrooper I just think the project was doomed from the offset...s an unwritten law of movie making that all films about motorsports must be even more dull than your average F1 race. ... More

Posted by Heskin Radiophonic at 08:48, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

You know what, I'm going to have that as my signature... b]Edit: ... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 19:19, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

I think Max was right when he/she said that it could find a slightly bigger audience on the home entertainment market, But let's face it. It will take a good few years for it to break even. Besides weather it's on the big or small screen, Speed Racer will just merely be okay, Passable entertainment.  As for influential?, How influential can a bona-fide box office bomb be?. It's not like you hear people say "Yeah i was really influenced by Heaven's Gate". Besides the concept of an entire ... More

Posted by Stewie_Griffin at 19:04, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Wilbert L: porntrooper L: max314 A commercial disappointment for sure, but I think it will pick up momentum on the home video market and will be remembered for years to come as an influencial work. Also this quote Max... why? ecause he has a man-crush on The Wachowskis and wants them to adopt him. sp; Harsh.  Preposterous. Probably True. ... More

Posted by porntrooper at 18:30, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: porntrooper L: max314 A commercial disappointment for sure, but I think it will pick up momentum on the home video market and will be remembered for years to come as an influencial work. Also this quote Max... why? ecause he has a man-crush on The Wachowskis and wants them to adopt him. ... More

Posted by Wilbert at 18:24, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 A commercial disappointment for sure, but I think it will pick up momentum on the home video market and will be remembered for years to come as an influencial work. sp; Also this quote Max... why? Remembered as an influential work? Influential on what? I sure as shit know what it will influence, the budget on the next Wachowski picture.    Again Max, I must point out ( I feel I must because you do seem to take the Wachowski's ever so seriously) that I'm not having... More

Posted by porntrooper at 18:17, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 L: Olaf I meant it more in the sense that calling his opinion "wrong" isn't really respecting it... 'm saying that opinion of opinion is that it's wrong.  But I nevertheless respect it, and I respect his right to have it. L: Wilbert No, I'd say it shows that you cannot take any kind of harmless joking. Must be tough being so humorless but I guess that makes it much easier to enjoy Wachowski movies.t's not the "joke" part of your statement I'm taking issue w... More

Posted by porntrooper at 18:09, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 So I'm not allowed to have an opinion about someone else's opinion, and still make a civil declaration of respect? I suppose a "respectful disagreement" is also an oxymoron by your standards, then. o, 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 hel... More

Posted by Wilbert at 18:00, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

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. ... More

Posted by Olaf at 17:54, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Olaf I meant it more in the sense that calling his opinion "wrong" isn't really respecting it... 'm saying that opinion of opinion is that it's wrong.  But I nevertheless respect it, and I respect his right to have it. L: Wilbert No, I'd say it shows that you cannot take any kind of harmless joking. Must be tough being so humorless but I guess that makes it much easier to enjoy Wachowski movies.t's not the "joke" part of your statement I'm taking issue with.  It'... More

Posted by max314 at 17:43, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

L: Rockatanski Here's what I thought of it.... acer/2008/The Wachowski Brothers]oughts: asked for it, but we sure got it anyway. acer ie! The Wachowski's show us what 100 million dollars looks like if you flush it down a day-glo toilet.Good-ews for Satan. Here's that movie you needed to run in hell's multiplexes for the next billion years.Bad-o begin here. (And how to seperate the bad from the ugly...?) Well I didn't like a single thing in this flick. Nothing appealed to me. I know ... More

Posted by krudler at 13:56, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

Uh-oh, prepare to be disagreed with at a nallyinded rate... ... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:39, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Speed Racer

Here's what I thought of it.... acer/2008/The Wachowski Brothers]oughts: asked for it, but we sure got it anyway. acer ie! The Wachowski's show us what 100 million dollars looks like if you flush it down a day-glo toilet.Good-ews for Satan. Here's that movie you needed to run in hell's multiplexes for the next billion years.Bad-o begin here. (And how to seperate the bad from the ugly...?) Well I didn't like a single thing in this flick. Nothing appealed to me. I know this flick was meant... More

Posted by Rockatanski at 13:27, 20 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 L: sanchia It is indeed an oxymoron. t's not. Think about it. No, it an oxymoron. An oxymoron is when contradictory terms appear in a sentence/figure of speech. You said you respected his opinion but described it as 'preposterous' which means 'utterly absurd' according to my dictionary widget. ... More

Posted by Wilbert at 23:15, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: max314 L: Wilbert You're wasting your time Homer. Max is incapable of being objective about his beloved Wachowskis. The fact that he referred to the positive reviews on RT without saying that those positive reviews are massively outnumbered by bad reviews is proof of that. Speed Racer could have driven those races in the 3-wheeled van from Only Fools and Horses and Max would have declared it genius! think the real problem here is that you are looking for some e... More

Posted by Wilbert at 23:12, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

I meant it more in the sense that calling his opinion "wrong" isn't really respecting it... ... More

Posted by Olaf at 19:32, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: sanchia It is indeed an oxymoron. t's not. Think about it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 19:31, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: homersimpson_esq They can keep their form of storytelling then.'d prefer it if they shared quote]If you respect my opinion, why do you say it is 'wrong'.r...I said I edpinion. That's not the same as gt. it is harsh - it needed to be.o it didn't quote]Preposterous? Well, that's your opinion.f course it is.  Who else's would it be? ther of us are 'right' or 'wrong'. We just disagree on a very, very basic level. Using 'video game language' is all well and good for vid... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 19:30, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Manchurian candidate It's just the first name that comes to mind when the sequence of words "Arrogant. Pretentious. Condecending. " come up. h well, fair enough. But pretentious? e? ... More

Posted by Olaf at 19:22, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: No Speed Racer No!

L: Olaf L: max314 all - 13/50, or: #ff0000]/b]] arsh.  Wrong.  Preposterous. But I respect your opinion, and respect the fact you took the time out to write a detailed review /quote] Dude, how can you call his score "wrong" and "preposterous" and say you respect his opinion? /quote]   It is indeed an oxymoron. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 19:19, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


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