Sunday, May 11, 2008

6 Reasons to LOVE Speed Racer

I've decided this is how I'm going to handle reviewing the summer movies. If  I see a movie that stinks I'l let you know the 6 reasons I don't like it. Don't know why exactly 6 but maybe I'll figure it out by the end of the sumer. Pretty simple little lay out enjoy.

6. The Mach 5 - I had forgotten how insanely cool the Mach 5. It's probably the second coolest car in all of nerdom and maybe movies period. First being the Delorean from Back to the future. The car moves and is only as good as Speed who drives the car (as characters in the film put it) like a piece of art. The car looks cool in all of it's different incarnations, and no one ever mentions how Speed is afraid of crashing up in it. The jumps it can make are bad ass, and the buzz saws which were my favorite feature growing up didn't get a lot of play but had a cool moment.
It left me wanting to drive fast and wanting to paint a letter M and number 5 on my white Chevy Impala. The whole racing style of the film has a very the Running Man slash Hanna Brabera's Wacky Races slash Death Race 2000 vibe, which I did not know was being remade. I am a huge fan of that film but Frankenstein and his Corvette wouldn't last a second against Speed Racer in the Mach 5. 

5. The Racer Family Aspect- This is probably the best family film since the original Spy Kids came out I'd put it on the smae level as E.T. or the Goonies. There is a certain celebration of family and togetherness that is usually not found in film. When Speed wins he wins with his whole family. 
The family dynamic feels like a total ensemble piece with every character adding a different element to the dynamic. Everyone gets a moment to shine and play the hero. Whether it's Pops wisdom, Spritle's adventrousness pr appetite, mom's love and guidance, or Sparky's goofiness. Everyone is vital and contributes to the story. 

4. Emile Hirsch - I love Hirsch still have yet to see him in into the wild, but I loved him in The Girl Next Door and Alpha Dog the kid has got range. As speed he gives off a very 1960's vibe like he's acting like James Dean or Marlon Brando in the Wild One. He emenates a kind of cool that is rare. He's not goofy and kind of lame like in the cartoon. He's more like the chosen one who has an uncanny desire and aptitude for racing. The way he plays off of Racer X and Rex is equally magnificent and gives the film much drama in a teen age sort of grand way.

3. John Goodman-I spoke in my review of Iron Man about the genius that was Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski. So it is odd to see his counterpart Walter without him, and rocking a Stache no less. A mustachioed Goodman is sheer gold he flashes his high school wrestling ring and isn't a fraid to throw down against ninjas. That's right their are ninjas in Speed Racer and Goodman mops the floor with them as the powerhouse head of the family. His belief in racing as religion is both fascinating and moving. He totally shines in this cartoon flick and makes a better Pops Racer than he does a Fred Flintstone. 

2. The Wachowski Bros. - Visually and story wise the film is absolutely beautiful. The use of color is superb and while the matrix was filled with greens and blacks this film is filled with colors. They master a wholesome family vibe through put the film but never pander story wise to an audience of children. Where movies like Sharkboy and Lava Girl feel flat in their depiction of being a kid and having an imagination this film plays honestly and never compromises jokes for plot. The visuals are superb and all their work on the cars is masterful and original. If the new Death Race can emulate these visuals, campy car movies might make a renaissance. While Bay's Transformer's failed to build a world, Speed gives a full depiction of the Racer universe and the way racing has affected the status quo. If anyone is familiar with the Wachowski's non-matrix comics like Doc Frankenstein or Shaolin Cowboy. The epic and zany everything but the kitchen sink vibe that's in those comics carries over into Speed Racer. I highly recommend Doc Frankenstein to comics fans who haven't checked it out. The art by Steve Skroce is magnificent and the story is fun, dark, and poignant in a very X-men sort of way. Another great element the Bros. brought to the film was the way the Racer family's business sort of had the heart or feel of independent film making.

1. Racer X-  Racer X is my favorite character form the Speed Racer show. He is the cool bad ass big brother.  He is like a super hero or lucha libre wrestler walking around with normal people. 
He feels like he should be in an X-men movie and his mission and the way he can never return to his family has a very epic quality to it. Equally the parts of the film with Rex Racer played by Scott Porter form NBC's Friday Night Lights are totally exceptional. Rex Racer is handsome charming and lovable. Porter could be a big movie star. I'd love to see him as Oliver Queen or even Captain America.  Mathew Fox aka Jack from lost is heroic and does almost his best Sawyer impression. I would love to see Fox star in a thriller sort of film because the guy has way more chops than Lost shows off. 

Iron Man vs. Speed Racer

Iron Man was so last week and I thought it would be a long time till I saw a movie as good as it if not better. This movie is superior to Iron Man. The poor reviews have me flabber ghasted. Iron man was everything a hollywood movies is, while this film feels independent groundbreaking and wholesome. Iron Man's sexual content and innuendo as a 21 year old guy had me laughing but as a young kid would have probably left me uncomfortable and confused. Speed Racer however was pure fun and never patronized children but had elements that were appropriate for them. This film had a very Star Wars quality more so than the Matrix films which were open ended and free to interpretation. This film was fun and gave a message of family and honesty that is rare in modern film. I suspect that the only films that can dethrone Speed Racer as best film of the summer will either be Hellboy or The Dark Knight.. 

So I am totally in awe of how cool Speed Racer was it gave me a total Transformers vibe. I hope that it isn't sequelized though. The Wachowski's don't have the best track record with sequels and this film is already perfect. In that it gives a full understanding and feel for the Racer universe. Check out the first seven minutes here, but I don't think that scenes are necesarily the best visual representation of the film. Once they start getting into the city and different race tracks it looks cooler and more realistic.

What did you think of Speed? Did my review peak your interest?


Scott said...

Everyone knows that the coolest car in nerdom is either the Mach 5 or the 1960's television Batmobile. The Delorean, while cool, ranks no better than third.

Stephen said...

i have to disagree with the 60's batmobile. it would be cool to roll around in the 60's batmobile for like cruising.
speed wise though the batmobile is a tugboat and has no element of speed like the de lorean does with it's flight and the mach 5 does with it's thrusters. so if it were a competition of pimpness the batmobile would rank high for the element of speed and coolness de lorean and the mach 5 own

Westside Goth said...

re: from my blog

ross and hitch are alright. both have done things i like. but when it comes to the mroe "realistic" kinds of art-that style is not a favorite of mine.

Dr. Retro said...

Great review! I think the mark of a good review is to peak interest without spoiling the movie. Your review passes this criteria. Thanks for being spoiler free.

And thanks for the perspective on kid friendliness. It helped me decide whether I'd want to take my kids to see this. While some have cautioned me about Ironman, Speed Racer sounds a lot more kid friendly.

Angie said...

Definitely agreed with you on #5-- it feels like a long time since I've seen a movie with such a healthy, happy family dynamic. They had strong chemistry together.

Swinebread said...

Hmmm, I've never been interested in Speed Racer so I won't see this anytime soon. It's hard for me to imagine that this film is better than Iron man when it received so many negative reviews. But I' have to wait until it's on cable i guess.