Sound Off: Speed Racer - What Did You Think?
by Alex Billington
May 9, 2008
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? We're now officially two weeks into the summer and that means the competition is really heating up. The Wachowski Brothers are back for the first time since finishing The Matrix Revolutions in 2003. This time they're sharing with us another visually remarkable creation - Speed Racer. Did it live up to your expectations? What was your reaction to its PG rating and cartoon feeling? Was it visually profound or visually confusing? Did you sit back and enjoy it or struggle to appreciate it? Sound off below, leave your thoughts, and let us know what you thought of Speed Racer.
To fuel the fire, I'll admit - I've fallen in love with Speed Racer. I feel like I'm 12 years old again, buying up toys, wishing I had a Mach 5. You've probably already read my review and the most I can do is reiterate my feelings from that. This movie is polarizing audiences and I'm very nervous to start asking people what they thought, because I'm afraid they're going to hate it. All I can say is that it's a very fun movie that is unlike anything you will ever see. Yes, it's a kids movie, but if you can sit back and enjoy it for what it is and forget how old you are, maybe you'll be taken on the ride of your life, too.
If you want your typical romantic comedy that you've already seen twice this year, five times last year, and can find about twenty times in anyone's DVD collection, then go ahead and watch that What Happens in Vegas movie. But if you want something truly unique, truly imaginative, and truly enjoyable, then stick with Speed Racer.
I went to an afternoon matinée showing to fit around my schedule, and while there were only a few people there, we were all laughing along and people were cheering and whooping. And I left the cinema with a grin the size of a crescent moon plastered on my face. The Brothers seem to have delivered a real crowd-pleasing extravaganza of a film. The racing scenes were bleeding spectacular. I mean "spectacular" in a way that has never even been imagined. Honestly, it deserves an Oscar nod just for art design. What's so ingenious about the opening sequence is that it not only sets up all the characters with entertaining and emotional efficiency, but it also establishes how the cars work in this fantasy world. So despite the races being faster than anything you're ever likely to see, the main action beats are always delivered with a clarity and a style that will keep you thrilled beyond belief. Each race is perfectly crafted with the stakes and the challenges rising further and further with each successive scene...until we reach a final showdown that leaves you utterly breathless. Literally. And the "visual vocabulary" of the film is truly innovative. It's like the camera is no object. As an audience member, you've never felt freer. Unlike the stylistic approach of the recent Star Wars prequels, which generally used locked off cameras and relatively tame tracking shots, Speed Racer ducks into, under and around the action in a way that opens up the medium like no other film before it. Compared to other film in its greenscreen sub-genre, this leaves movies like Sin City and 300 looking rather timid by comparison. But at the heart of it, this is really a film about fathers and their sons. A coming of age story about hope, expectation, and the pain of loss. I found myself with a lump in my throat while watching the movie. Wait, let me rephrase. I found myself with a lump in my throat within ten minutes of the film starting. Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox and Scott Porter as the young Rex Racer all provide intimate and genuinely moving performances. Make no mistake about it, this film is the definition of joviality on celluloid. But the story is basically driven by the shadow of a lost family member from the very first scene in the film, and that's what really makes the film worth watching. As well as being immersed in a fantasy world of drop dead gorgeous visuals, of course. In the same way that Sin City was an exaggerated, impressionistic noir, and just as 300 was an exaggerated, impressionistic war movie, Speed Racer plays as an exaggerated, impressionistic 1960s kid's show. Which is exactly what it is. It's campy. It's fun, And it's full of humour and heart. Of course, brooding characters and over-the-top gore is easier to sell than camp, colourful fun, but allowing oneself to become absorbed in the film's style makes for a rewarding experience. I've heard complaints about the film's exposition, but the only scene where I could perhaps understand that criticism was about half way through when Taejo's family troubles were being told. But even that zipped by very quickly and the audience still understands exactly what was at stake in the upcoming race. So if it is a flaw, it's a minor one at best. The characters are warm and lovable, the villains are wonderfully hissable, the actors' performances are all suitably camp, and the morality tale at the center of it - the battle of family versus corporatism - gives the story a real spirit. And makes the races all that more enthralling to watch. It's infectiously charming, and even at 129 minutes the film glides like a T-180 on ice. I was convinced I was only in there for about thirty minutes, and when it finished I was left gagging for more. So what's the verdict? Well, it's a tricky decision between 4 and 5 stars. While the story wasn't exactly the peak of literary greatness, it was very well told. Despite its two hour plus running time, the narrative was sharp, the emotionality was touching, and the plot turns were genuinely exciting. If the film was not such a special effects extravaganza, it would probably have been given a 4 star rating. But the film does have incredible special effects. And it does offer an absolutely sublime spectacle. Not only that, but the Wachowskis seem to have yet again set another industry standard - one that will likely be copied and mimicked for years to come. Until the Brothers reinvent the wheel for a fourth time, that is. And as such, the rating for this film is for something that could easily end up becoming highly influential classic. Bring on Speed Racer 2!
Manfred Powell on May 9, 2008
...and that's 5 out of 5, not 10 😉
Manfred Powell on May 9, 2008
Alex, I agree that part of it is indeed about being able to "sit back and enjoy it for what it is". I mean, you don't go to see a romantic comedy and then walk out complaining that there weren't enough action scenes in it! 😀 In the same way, you've gotta see the angle Speed Racer is coming from...although I admit it often seems like it's coming from all angles at once 😀
Manfred Powell on May 9, 2008
I WAS A BLAST!!!!! VROOOOM
COL. MUSTARD on May 9, 2008
I saw this with a bunch of friends at the midnight showing and, to be completely honest, we LOVED it! I think that it's hands-down the best adaptation of anime-style sentiments to live action. I thought that compared to Iron Man, the antagonist's character had depth of character instead of being just blindly "evil" for some unknown reason. One thing that we all remarked when walking out of the theater was just how many moments there were in the movie where we were laughing so hard it hurt. I honestly don't remember a movie where I was so caught off-guard by comedic relief--I couldn't contain my own bellowing laughs. There has never been a time when I've disagreed with critics more, but this time their high-brow and unflinchingly elitist attitudes vis-a-vis the Wachowski Brothers has soured my taste for the industry as a whole. From now on I'll be seeing my movies based on my own intuitions about them, and screw what some old fart thinks.
Eric Florenzano on May 9, 2008
10 out of 10
john on May 9, 2008
I was totally blown away. It made me feel like a kid again. Incredible visuals unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. Perfect summer entertainment, and something the whole family can enjoy. This is one movie that I wouldn't mind a sequel to.
Ben on May 9, 2008
So Alex, how much IS Warner Bros paying you for pushing this movie sooo much?
Herbert on May 9, 2008
Ok, back in after a mammoth 3 films in one evening (thanks to my unlimited cinema card!!!). First up, they had great trailers: Indy, Caspian, Hulk, Dark Night...all look amazing, especially the new Hulk trailer. On to the movies! #1 What happens in vegas - actually pretty funny! 5/10 #2 Speed Racer - the main downpoint was i watched it with a whole 5 other people in the cinema,3 of which left half way through, leaving me and my friend. This was at an 8:30 start...although the cinema was pretty empy all round, actually had a comic market in the foyer selling Iron Man and Hulk stuff so maybe they expected more people. What can i say.....how can anyone NOT be entertained by it??? It was brilliant...Spritle & Chim Chim were awesome, the scene where they are on the sugar rush was crazy, as was the end credits with Chim Chim on the cart spinning and driving... LOL. I thought it was great, entertaining all the way through. It was a crazy 'Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas..for kids' trip. Definitely a cult classic in the making. And, Racer X was good, Matthew Fox should be Captain America next! Really good movie, needed MORE driving and i think last race should have been longer and crazier before the climax. 9/10 #3 Doomsday - What can i say? F*CKING AWESOME. It was another intense trip (liked Speedracer... but violent). Cute rabbit being splattered by sentry gun? Check! Crazy car stunts and flying heads splattering ON the camera? sweet. 9/10...i will re-watch this almost as much as Mad Max and Mad Max 2. All in all, a great night... £11.99 a month for unlimited trips to the movies rules! I think on Sunday i'll catch Iron Man & Speed Racer again!!
chrisUK on May 9, 2008
ChrisUK, you lost all credibility when you said you enjoyed Doomsday... And what's with all the reviewers downing Speed Racer? 35% Speed Racer on Rotten Tomatoes 35/100 on Meta Critic Yet FirstShowing reviews are glamourous? Am I missing something here?
Les on May 9, 2008
Alright! Totally seeing this movie on June 12, when it comes out in Australia. Very often, I gauge whether or not to see a movie on what critics have to say (i.e. Rotten Tomatoes), but Speed Racer is one of those films I want to see for my own reasons. I'm going to go in and have a good time.
Minic on May 9, 2008
I will definitely try to catch this when it arrives in down under,but i hope the first 7 minutes previously made available doesn't speak to the movie's real quality.That 7-minute long clip was utter rubbish to be honest,especially when the brothers were talking in the race car in a sleepy,lazy monotone and the whole "i don't want to go to school" issue was emphasized around 200 times in such a short period. but the colors look extremely enticing,so this one's a must-watch for me.
twispious on May 9, 2008
I think there are going to be some reports of kids that are going to be experiencing some major seizures during this movie. Aside from the fact it was bad, not terrible but just plain bad. All those unnecessary cuts and flashback made be ill. I mean you have to be a 5 year old retard not to understand the story line. I hope there is no sequel! It felt like I was in the 60's on some bad acid trip or just looking at some little girl's myspace page with lots of glitter.
Jesse on May 9, 2008
I saw Speed Racer today and it is absolutely epic FUN. It's an incredible movie with a mindblowing color scheme and quick pace that actually ends up with a touching message. If you're dismissing this on some feeble misconception then you are really missing out. Think F-Zero GX meets animation with a very small touch of wacky happiness thrown in to keep you smiling. The car battles are completely over the top and non-stop throughout the movie. If you enjoy action, or racing, or purely brilliant cinematography you owe it to yourself to see this. I just realized I'm raving and sound like some kind of paid shrill. Truth is I'm just a movie fan like the rest of you and would hate to see this movie not make the money it deserves, and have the public miss out because they believe they are somehow too high minded for a Speed Racer film.
Jeremy on May 9, 2008
I went with 5 friends to an IMAX showing and we all LOVED it! Yea it's ridiculous, yea it's dumb, but it was also unlike anything I've seen and that is one of the main reasons I go to the movies- to see something truly new. And I also got involved with the Racer family and found it to be emotionally spot on for something that is so "fake." Excited to go see it again under a certain influence because this flick was made for that and destined for cult status. Also in terms of reactions to the film the crowd loved it. They clapped when it ended and people commenting as they left were that they wanted to see it again right then. The first thing we said when we left was how boring the real world looked in comparison. The entire structure of the movie is so different and unexpected that it's kind of jarring at first but when you go with it it becomes a great experience.
chrisg on May 9, 2008
L-O-V-E-D IT!!! I hope this performs well enough for a sequel!
Jeff Warner on May 9, 2008
This movie was absolutely breathtaking... especially on imax. I seriously can't wait any longer for them to announce a sequel. I felt like a kid again just watching Speed Racer do the pose from the cartoon.
Cool Kid on May 9, 2008
I saw it with 2 other friends next to me and we all were blown away. At first we thought it would be cartoony and just all over the place but we decided to go to it rather than What Happens in Vegas. After the first parts where you were just getting into the style it is incredible. The whole time we were either laughing or just awe-struck. I knew beforehand that the W Brothers could do ation but it seemed to me that they tried too hard and just over did it. But race scene after race scene it continued to amaze. Nothing was repeated twice (if it was similar it was presented in a different way). I am shocked that it got such a low mark but for me its a solid 8/10.
Jillian on May 9, 2008
Well I just came from the film and I was left shaking my head saying NO SPEED RACER NO! I've seen many a film in my time but I've never seen one where so many people WALKED OUT DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE FILM. That exit door from the theater to the parking lot was slamming all night long (and that is no exaggeration) It unsuccesfully flip-flopped between trying to be a bad imitation of Robert Rodriquez' SPY KIDS and Shark Boy and Lava Girl, and a grown up film for the 'big kids' sitting in the audience, hence the many obvious (a little much for kids) Butt, Thigh and cleavage shots. And those dragged out 'CW' Smallville dialogues and hostile take over-stock and bonds speeches left the kids ready to throw their jelly beans at the screen. And while the effects were nice, like I mentioned before it wasn't anything that SPY Kids didn't have SR just had a little more sparkle because they used new soft ware. Just like the race scenes where the edit cuts never gave you a birds eye view long enough to feel the suspense and get into it, the storyline was like that too--sadly you really didn't root for the characters-- you just watched them (in between checking the time on your cell phone) Not that you're expecting to fall out int the floor cryin' or anything but even as plain as Peter Parker is from Spiderman--you still root for him. So the kids had it right tonight "Is it over yet?" Oh and a note if your kids/brother/ sisters are at all squeemish about blood, there was a particular scene where a mobster beats on one of the racers tied to a chair, (he even begs for mercy) it may be a little much for the wee-ones and upset them.
Elissa on May 9, 2008
I find myself disagreeing with the website here alot lately...However, on this movie I find myself completely agreeing. I really REALLY enjoyed the movie. The art direction was really mind blowing. I read it in every post but I still have to say it. It really was mind blowing. I plan on catching it a second time soon, which is something I never thought I would say with the critical reviews coming out on it. I left the theatre feeling I had been on the race with speed. Even beyond the colors, the insane action, and brilliant filming, I actually and surpriseingly enjoyed the story. I was not expecting the family drama nor the father son interaction that occured. To anyone reading this, ignore Rotten Tomatoes just this once and catch it. It's well worth seeing
Billy on May 10, 2008
ok, i just came back from seeing it and i persoanlly loved it! and that's from a non-speedracer fan! i loved all the visuals. they were spectacular! the races were so beautifully put together. and during the races, i nearly forgot i was watching a movie. to top it all off, Christina Ricci looked absolutely gorgeous in it. i would prefer long hair, but i take it Trixie had short. one little thing i noticed, 2:15 is a little too long for the kids. great job on everyone's part. really fun ride. cool beans. =)
craziemutant on May 10, 2008
10 out of 10, piece of art! I recommend it to everybody!
Peluco on May 10, 2008
I'm really surprised by the rave reviews FirstShowing is giving Speed Racer. Over here in the UK I'm seeing review after review giving it 1 star. I'm not sure I've ever seen a film be so divisive. Personally I'll be giving it a miss, everything I've seen of it points to atrocious.
Jon on May 10, 2008
IGN UK gave it 4.5 out of 5 😛
chrisUK on May 10, 2008
I love color, but dang, I wanted to be able to see the races and the cars a little more clearly. It was entertaining, and they captured the spirit of a cartoon. The actual cartoon was a little darker at times, so I was expecting something more adult. I'll go see it again just to see the races. And dang, I want more of Racer X to tell ya the truth! 🙂 Oh..the bummer part was all the kids in the show..I have to remember to see PG movies way late in the day. They talked, kicked railings, jumped around the whole time. So most of the dialog I missed anyway. Oh well! I look forward to another shot at this show. Just show me more cars! 🙂
Bry from Chi on May 10, 2008
chrisUK visit MetaCritic or RottenTomatoes which compiles ALL reviews. Suddenly you'll see that 4.5 from IGN, become a 1 from mass critics.
Les on May 10, 2008
a different movie, not everyone is going to like it, not everyone is ready for this, 8/10, besides not for kids, the kinds didn't like it in my movie theater.
Paulina on May 10, 2008
It was very good. The jokes were for the most part very childish, but I reminded myself it was a kid's movie each time I rolled my eyes, and so I was able to enjoy them eventually. The visuals were incredible. The only way to see this movie is in IMax. Not as good as Iron Man in my mind, probably because Iron Man has more mature humor for one, but Iron man is better in nearly every aspect (e.g. character development, suspense, narrative, etc). I would give Speed Racer the edge in the visual side though; I cannot think of any movie that matches its visual experience. 8/10
Keith on May 10, 2008
iron man was bad, not as bad as dardevil, xmen 3 or hulk!
paulina on May 10, 2008
I enjoyed it a LOT more than I thought it would.
Leland on May 10, 2008
I personally loved it! I had no idea it was so long until I read it in these comments. The whole movie blinked by. I couldn't believe I was sitting on the edge of my seat in the final race! I highly recommend seeing it.
Andrew on May 10, 2008
I'm not a fan of watching movies on its first weekend since I'd rather avoid the huge crowds and this is a movie I'd want to see on IMAX so hopefully I can catch it next weekend. This seems to be a flop tho guys if you check out the #'s on boxofficemojo.
pogi on May 11, 2008
We don't care about "the numbers", we have seen the movie and liked it.
Jeremy on May 11, 2008
I hated the story but liked the performances and action, has to be seen in IMAX.
Iron Man Fan on May 11, 2008
Fun! FUN! FUN! To those who criticized, what were you expecting? This was one of the best movies of its kind ever made. Further, it is probably the best blend of live action and animation that has ever been made. It's a pure fun movie, yet still manages to have a touching story. There were times when my heart was literally pounding from the action. Other times I literally laughed out loud. And yet, other times when I was actually emotionally touched. This was a wonderful FUN FUN FUN movie, and I would love to see it again. Emile Hirsch and Mat Fox were especially good.
Steve on May 11, 2008
Speed Racer was phenomenal, and it's sad to see it had such a poor turnout this weekend. I believe that: A) Warner Bros. should have just gone the "Spy Kids" route, and market this exclusively to kids instead of families, or B) add a couple of swears, get a more marketable PG-13 rating, and get those teens to show up. Since they, being the Wachowskis, Joel Silver, and Warner Bros., were unwilling to do either, "Speed Racer" was doomed as a result. And that's a shame, because I had a great time watching it. Also, you could tell that this is a real personal film for the Wachowskis. You have two characters cross-dressing in the middle of the film (a family film at that), and Racer X citing that his surgery is possibly "a mistake he'll have to live with." Take that for what you will.
Kevin J on May 11, 2008
This movie was off the hook! 10 of 10 - Great visual effects, casting, my kids loved it as well. I liked that the original Speed made a cameo as well. Will see this again at the theatre - surprised that it only did $20 million opening weekend.
Rudy on May 12, 2008
I just finished watching Speed Racer and I loved it !! FAN freakin TASTIC! The colour, the CGI, the story, the Characters all worked for me. Its got to be HUGE in Japan, it was a Drift Racers DREAM and IT is Great. I am Not saying I want to see a hundred spin offs in the same VEIN but as a One Off it was a HOOT. It must have been a Blue screen Nightmare for the actors but Thanks for the FUN ride. The Wachowski boys did it again !! SPEED was ultra cool, Goodman was spot on, who was that chimp anyway? Sarandon as always was perfection and Nina Ricci was SmOkIn ! Racing will never be the same.
criskross on Oct 7, 2008
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