Monday, May 19, 2008

Fast, furious, and funfunfun

I wish I had watched Speed Racer in IMAX, because I’m sure it would have been a wild trip, what with the lightning-fast race sequences, the psychedelic sets and costumes, the cartoony visuals, and the mile-a-minute special effects. Everything had an unself-consciously kitschy feel to it, and rightly so, because as anyone who has watched the animated series would tell you, Speed Racer just wouldn’t be Speed Racer without the campiness.

The film adaptation is truly the TV cartoon come to life, and then some. In addition to the funky art direction, the casting was brilliant, from Emile Hirsch as Speed to John Goodman as Pops to Christina Ricci as Trixie to Matthew Fox as Racer X, all the way down to ChimChim the chimpanzee. Korean star Rain (and his barely comprehensible English) was the only letdown, but I’ll let that one slide since he only had a supporting role. All the main characters were spot on, and played to perfection. Special kudos go to Emile Hirsch in particular, for pulling off the signature Speed Racer pose without looking the least bit gay (that was my favorite bit in the entire movie). And mercifully, even the kid who played Speed’s younger brother Spritle wasn’t annoying in his kakulitan. He was actually pretty funny.

Of course the plot had more depth than a storyline from a children’s cartoon, but it’s not nosebleed material either: young racecar driving phenom Speed Racer (yes, that’s his name) deals with family issues, evil corporations, Inspector Detector, and ruthless competitors trying to run him off the racetrack. But I liked that about the movie, that despite the theme of courage and integrity in the face of corporate greed and corruption, and the hackneyed message of pursuing one’s passion, and several surprisingly moving family moments, Speed Racer didn’t take itself so seriously. With the Wachowski brothers directing, I think audiences expected something along the lines of the mind-bending Matrix trilogy, but understandably, they handled Speed Racer with a lighter touch, prioritizing style over substance, which is not a bad thing at all in this case. Their treatment not only created the perfect blend of retro flavor and futuristic vibe, it made what was a very corny 60s cartoon, simply put, very cool (or as Trixie would put it, "cool beans!")

It’s a pity Speed Racer was released around the same time as Iron Man, so it got overshadowed by Tony Stark and company. While Iron Man is clearly the superior film, Speed Racer holds its own in terms of entertainment value, and it even managed to get me a bit choked up more than once (hey, what can I say, I’m a big sap). It’s definitely worth watching, especially for those who remember the cartoon, and I actually wouldn’t mind seeing it again… in IMAX, this time around.


At Monday, May 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know what i was supposed to watch speed racer in the IMAX theatre as well but then the girl selling us the tickets told us that it wasn't 3D o_0 i'm just glad that she told us before we bought the tickets coz that would've been a rip off. haha. they really should've made it 3D through : )


At Tuesday, May 20, 2008, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

What! They showed it in IMAX but it wasn't in 3D?? Boo!


Post a Comment

<< Home