Published on May 13th, 2008 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Speed Racer
With the history surrounding Speed Racer, and the craftsmanship employed by the Wachowski Brother’s one would expect the final product of a feature film version of the classic anime series to completely blow the audience away. However, at the end of the two-plus-hour-film all you are likely to remember is the remarkable race scenes and how you’re likely to skip over just about everything else when the film hits DVD later this summer.
Speed Racer is a kid’s film at its core with bright colors, ADD inspired action, a rather dull and mundane story to follow and enough sugary sweet fluff to over-bloat the film by 45 minutes. At a long in the tooth two hours and fifteen minutes most kids will find themselves bored in the second act just before the amazing racing scenes at the end of the film. There’s enough here to drag your interest along for the full runtime, but newcomers to the series might find themselves checking their watch every few minutes.
As stated before, the writing is sub par at best, catering to the children mentality the film is designed for, but whereas other “children’s” films like Pixar’s stable state and a majority of Dreamworks’ work have subtleties that only adults can pick up on, Racer is a straight shooter, never giving the older demographic anything to decode.
The casting is probably the strongest aspect of the film with the highlight being John Goodman as Pops Racer. Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer does an admirable job in the roll after his breakthrough in The Girl Next Door and dramatic turn in Alpha Dog. Matthew Fox (Racer X) also provides an admirable performance although he isn’t in the film for a good amount of time and fans of the series may be troubled as to the modifications to his origin from the original series, although the Wachowski’s wisely correct any creative freedoms they may have attempted before the film is over.
Overall there’s just too much going against the film for it to really breakout into a hit. Its story is too simplified for such a long running time, the seizure inducing visuals are pure eye candy, but lend no substance to the film, and aside from the races, there isn’t a whole lot to come back and see again, even packed with special features on the upcoming home release. Speed Racer is crafted for the fanboy and the newcomer, yet seems to disappoint both groups equally. While a sequel is not very likely, one can only hope a little more time and money is spent to keep the film interesting between the fabulous races.