Saturday, May 24, 2008

Speed Racer

As usual, I'm going to refrain from giving you a straight plot synopsis. I don't want to tell you what happens in the movie. I'd rather just give you my impressions.

There's not a movie to do a direct comparison of Speed Racer with, though there are a few that had elements that I was reminded of by it. For some reason, it's look reminded me of Tron a bit with the neon-light visual trails. It even reminded me of the visual style of Robert Rodriguez in Spy Kids, with the alternating animation and live action (a comparison to Spy Kids 3D would probably be even more apropos, but I didn't see that movie). Using the term "live action" very loosely, mind you. I think the entire movie was filmed in front of a green screen.

Visually it's dazzling and incorporated several new technologies (from IMDb):

Technically, Speed Racer was a first in many areas but two stand-out. It was the first film to use the Sony F23 Digital Film Camera and also to record in parallel to Sony HDCAM SR, for archive masters, and to Codex Digital Data Recorders for on-set uncompressed HD playback, digital dailies and file generation for editing and VFX.

I think a large part of the audience didn't get the intentional campiness of it and today's younger generation may not have seen the original series (which the movie is reasonably faithful to). I believe this is a movie that will do well in the secondary market (DVD), much like the Matrix did.

Like the previously reviewed Iron Man, it sneaks a message in with the popcorn entertainment. In Iron Man, it was war-profiteering, here it is big bad corporations and the ubiquitous sponsorship deals of everyday life. It's nauseating to watch a post-race interview with NASCAR, where drivers feel it's necessary to spew out thanks to their laundry-list of sponsors before they even thank their family. Are we far from having company logos on the back of main-stream sports figures (baseball, football, basketball)? Though the movie is not meant to be a message movie, and it's told through the prism of sports, one can't help feeling that it's a reflection of even more. Admit it, whenever we see a politician talking, we wonder who they've been bought by. Wouldn't it be funny for politicians to have to wear suits that had patches for all their "sponsors"? "We now present Vice President Dick Cheney, brought to you by Halliburton and Diebold".

Made by the Wachowski brothers (of Matrix and V for Vendetta fame), Speed Racer continues their trend of not being predictable. The cast is good, with Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) in the title role, Matthew Fox as Racer X, John Goodman and Susan Sarandon as the parents, and in one of her most attractive roles to date, Christina Ricci as Trixie. Everyone seems to be appropriate for their role.

Typically difficult critic - my son Alex - gives it two thumbs up. Worthy praise indeed. It's funny and has some toned-down anime/kung fu type violence that wouldn't bother younger kids. Grade: B

"The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." -- Australian author Alex Carey

"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." -- Howard Zinn

1 comment:

new movies said...

Its family movie. All age groups will definitely love this one. There are few movie that can be watched with family and this is one of them. Thanks for the nice review too.