Movie Review: Speed Racer

Finally, after three weeks here in India, I've finally watched my first movie in a proper theater. The movie I was able to catch was the Wachowski Brothers' adaptation of Speed Racer, originally a Japanese animated series in the 1960's.

Speed Racer is movie that exemplifies style over substance-- the Wachowskis' vision of the movie is a bright and colorful future world where racing is a huge sport (and business) and race tracks are of various shapes sizes. The hues of the movie is vibrant and slick, and the atmosphere is undoubtedly influenced by cartoons. Speaking of cartoons, the movie also integrates some animation inspired by from Japanese anime (for example, the fight scenes).

The visuals of the movie is impressive and I could see the creators really making an effort to bring the quirky nature of the animated series to real life. However, while it helps create the backdrop and racing sequences of the film, the non-linearity and choppiness of the plotting set in the very fast pace hurts the movie in a whole lot of ways. The acting is not bad as Emile Hirsh in the titular role is very likable and the rest of the cast (John Goodman, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox and Susan Sarandon) do their best to put some humanity in the machine-dominated film. There is humor peppered all-over the movie, but it relies heavily in situations involving a chimpanzee.

So what's the final verdict for Speed Racer? It's one of the best movies that I could remember in translating the spirit of an animated series into real life and the look and feel of the movie is stunnigly top-notch. But the Wachowskis bit focused too much on the action and forgot to put in a better paced story to make this an instant classic like the animated TV series.

Rating: 3.5/5

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