Thursday, November 11, 2010
SPEED RACER (2008). Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowksy.
This bizarre movie is an updated, live-action version of a Japanese [shown in America] cartoon show of the sixties. "Speed Racer" [the creditable Emile Hirsch] is obsessed with racing from an early age, and becomes a racer despite the alleged death of his older brother on the race track [the sub-plot about whether or not the brother is still alive makes little sense]. The plot has Speed turning down an offer for corporate sponsorship because he feels that corporate attitudes have corrupted racing. Naturally the fairly repellent bad guys have to go after him. The actual races are depicted almost entirely through computer animation, so that the movie mostly resembles a cartoon in which live actors have been inserted literally into the driving seat. This makes the races more "fantastic" -- and impossible -- than suspenseful and exciting. John Goodman and Susan Sarandon, who once had decent careers, have somehow been cast as Speed's parents. The movie has interesting scenic design, highly vivid color schemes, and is stylish but stupid. There are some cute little kids, an adorable chimp, and some nasty animated piranhas. Matthew Fox appears as "Racer X," whom Speed suspects is actually his "dead" brother. It's hard to imagine who the audience was for this film.
Verdict: For Nascar fans on acid? **.