Don't Go Speed Racer

Friday, May 23, 2008

Yet another blockbuster movie season is upon us. The starting line has already been passed with Iron Man being the first big movie of the summer being released on May 2nd, Speed Racer on May 9th and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on the 16th. Today, May 22, brings the release of Indiana Jones And the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So far the season has seen success, and one bomb. Since the release of the new installment of the Chronicles of Narnia series seven days ago, it has soared to the #1 at the box office with over $60 million in profits. While, another highly touted "blockbuster" Speed Racer has been out twice as long and grossed less than half that.

With Speed Racer quickly heading to the bargain bin at the nearest gas station, it might be important to look at why it's turned out to be a huge flop. The movie is directed by Larry & Andy Wachowski, directors of the Matrix trilogy, One quick look at the trailer will show just how far the Wachowski brothers have grown since the Matrix trilogy: not at all. Speed Racer is the same thing you got in the Matrix movies, unbridled visual effects.

Every bit of the movie is surrounded with artificial environment. To say that it has amazing graphics is an understatement. The cartoon/life-like features of the film seem to be the point that the Wachowski brothers were trying to make. The speeding cars, whizzing race tracks and spectacular crashes produce some incredible eye candy but ring hollow in the theater. What's new and improved in the visual aspect is surely lacking in the plot department.

For someone that used to watch the re-runs of the Americanized anime "classic" the movie contains all the elements of the original cartoon series except for one that will be noted later. However, this all-inclusiveness too is a problem. The problem being that all the elements have been compacted into 2 or so hours. The X-men movies looked to the extensive Marvel history of the X-men and picked out what elements to include and when. In the case of Speed Racer, this might have been a better strategy. This could have been accomplished by making the elusive Racer X a bit more elusive.

The one thing painfully lacking from the original series is suspense. The movie simply devolves to a series of computer generated cars whizzing past. And then, they whizz past again, and then again. And then the cars jump through the air and then, they whizz past again. It's tedious. If you want to see some more crazy matrix-esque imagery of stuff flying through the air, head to the theater immediately and hand over your ten bucks to see Speed Racer. If you want to see something good, save your cash.

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