Speed Racer (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Running Time 135 minutes
The color is beautiful.
Watching it in an IMAX theater, it really jumps out at you. It’s so good
that it is reminiscent of the old three-strip Technicolor films from
around 1934-1954 when the process terminated, due basically to the
expense, although there were other reasons. Whatever the reasons, movie
color has never approached what Technicolor produced for those 20 years.
“Foxfire” (1955) was the last film released using three-strip
Technicolor. Watch “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) and “Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes” (1953), to name only two of many, and you will see color
that boggles your mind. “Speed Racer” is akin to the same wonderful
That’s the only good thing
I can say about this cartoon movie with real live people. It’s built on
the theme of the “Spiderman” movies in that there’s a good looking hero,
Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch), a pretty girl friend, Trixie (Christina
Ricci), a bad guy, Royalton, (Roger Allam), and lots and lots of special
effects. In fact, the film consists of about 15 minutes of dialogue and
120 minutes of mind-numbing special effects.
Hirsch is a good actor. I
don’t know why he would waste his talent in a thing like this where he
just fronts for special effects. All the actors were filmed in front of
a green screen with the backgrounds inserted via CGI. The races are all
incomprehensible unless you have the intellect of a pre-pubescent
devotee of video games. They are just a miasma of colors and crashes and
noise with two announcers telling us what is apparently happening. The
announcers are necessary because it’s not possible to determine what the
cartoon cars are really doing in the race just by watching. The cars are
all graphics. They fly and spin and crash in ways that are impossible.
This is just Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd dressed up as real people.
Also along for the ride
here are Speed Racer’s parents, Pops Racer (John Goodman) and Mom Racer
(Susan Sarandon). Rounding out the basic cast is Racer X (Matthew Fox, a
hunk from ABC’s hit series, “Lost”). Except for Fox, they don’t add much
to the movie. In fact, the best performances in the film belong to Fox
All these comic
book/cartoon films have the bare minimum stories and lines like, “What
matters isn’t whether racing changes. What matters is if racing changes
us.” Oh, gee, there I go and give you about 25% of the dialogue.
May 7, 2008