Speed Racer

Hooray! Another fifty reviews later, I am ready to introduce my next Milstone Review: number 1150 for my website!

Holy crap. If I thought 1050 was a shitty milestone, 1150 has to be way worse. But hey, fun reviews are fun.

Today I decided to look at Speed Racer, which I didn’t see when it came out six years ago due to all the hate I heard about it. I didn’t have the means or willpower to watch every movie six years ago, so I let the internet decide for me.

I also never really watched the Speed Racer cartoon growing up. I knew of the references, and by golly, I knew how to make fun of the anime style when it came up in conversations, but that is all I had going for me. So in a way, this is probably good, as I won’t have anything to compare it to.

I really only know one thing about the movie: COLOR!

Speed 1
This is the level of celebration I demand for hitting milestone 1150.

America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed.

So it is pretty obvious that Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) would grow up wanting to race. Also because of his name. Also because of the family business. The dad Pops (John Goodman) runs a small auto shop to make race cars, and his older brother, Rex Racer (Scott Porter) is a professional racer!

He also has a mom (Susan Sarandon) and a younger brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) and the Chim Chim the monkey.

This is a clear example where nurture trumps nature.

The unfortunate thing is that Rex decided to leave home and join another company and not support his family anymore. And soon after, despite being one of the best, he started being a really dirty player, causing other players to get pushed off the tracks and maybe even…cheating! But then he died in a crash before charges could be pushed on him, bringing dishonor to the racer family.

Well, speed? Speed wants to win that honor. And boy howdy, can he fly. He almost beats his brother’s record on a local track, but holds off at the end to honor his brother. He knows he wasn’t a cheater. Now he is getting job offers, but he knows he wants to stay with his family and race on his own terms.

Where will you be when the Speed [Racer] kicks in?

Enter Mr. Royalton (Roger Allam)! Owner of a super large mega corporation, he has more money than there exists more or less, and he also likes to sponsor racers. His ideas are simple. Keep what works working, team chemistry, pit crews, whatever. He just wants to help out, help train and give lots of money.

Well, it turns out that Speed, after thinking about it, would rather stay with his family. He doesn’t want to hurt them like they were hurt before. He wants to do it the right way. On his own, with his Pops.

Mr. Royalton doesn’t like being turned down. Not by some punk asshat with the last name of Racer. The racing leagues in this world have been controlled by corporate interests for many decades now. Every race is fixed. Every race. Even that one. And that one. Speed doesn’t believe it, won’t believe it. Royalton tells Speed he will have his car crashed on the next race, and family sued for infringement. False claims, but bad news travels fast, so his families business will be in ruins.

They might have to eat the fatty with the monkey to get by.

Well shit, what is a Speed to do? Try to take down the mega-corporations? Sure!

Inspector Detector (Benno Furmann), head of the corporate crimes division. Racer Taejo Togokahn (Rain) has evidence to bring down Royalton, but needs help racing in a team event soon. He has enlisted the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox) also unassigned, and they need a third. If they can help them win, they can get out of Royalton’s hold and he’d help put a stop to the shenanigans.

Speed decides to not tell his family about it either. Just his girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), so she can be the entire pit crew and help them out with helicopter support.

Yeah. That’s the reason to bring her. Sure.

The multi nation race takes several days, so of course his family finds out and shows up for support. Which is great, because people are now getting sent to literally just kill him off the tracks, in his hotel room, elsewhere, they just want him dead. But now Speed has people to protect him! Hell, even Sparky (Kick Gurry) is there, the main pit crew guy who works for his dad, and the guy that has taken me this long to find a place to casually fit his mention in this review.

Needless to say, the good guys don’t get stabbed or shot, and the three win the race! Now they can take down the Royalton Corp!

Hah, just fucking kidding you there too. Taejo was just playing them too. Now that his corp won this big race, their stock is super high, and that is all they cared about. They didn’t have illegal information on Royalton. Suck it, Speed and X!

This of course pisses Speed off and he even takes it out on X who he thinks is his brother in disguise. Nope, just that guy from Lost. Shit.

Speed 6
“We’ve got to go back!…to the finish line! Because that’s how races work!”

Thankfully not everyone in the Togokahn family/corporation is a complete dick. Taejo’s sister Horuko (Nan Yu) steals the invitation to the Grand Prix from her brother and gives it to Speed. With it, can still enter the best of the best races. If he takes first, he will ruin Royalton financially and prove that they can beat the system where racing is supposedly fixed. It would be sweet if they could also some how prove that Royalton cheats. But let’s not get too crazy.

Somehow his family is able to make a new car from scratch in about 32 hours before the race, and Speed is then able to go and drive! Yay!

Well, lot of people come at him, he avoids a lot of them. Royalton cheats, he is able to break free from the cheat and also expose the cheat to the public at the same time.

Speed wins the race, and everyone goes home happy or to jail sad. Wooo, EAT IT CORPORATIONS!

Speed 7
But between all that plot was about five minutes straight of color and color on color.

Did Speed Racer GoGoGo? Maybe, in a way.

The CGI style was very hectic and it everything was constantly changing or talking. Characters flying across the screen, many transistions, and many many colors.

I am glad I watched it in Blu-Ray, but I wish there was a good 3D component as well to go with it. I feel like everything would have popped. It would have been like 135 minutes on LCD, I have been told.

A bit surprised by the complicatedness of the plot and the time they dedicate to setting up events in this film, given its PG nature. It seems like it would be very hard for kids to follow. Mostly because it was hard for myself to follow.

In terms of entertainment purposes, the biggest problem might be the large and complicated plot. It seems like the movie is trying to be two things, a big entertaining race spectacle that is colorful and full of wonder, and a corporate serious drama film. What I am left with is a long movie that goes to lengths to include both sides and I get a bit of a confusing mess. It isn’t that it is hard to keep up with, but in its already unique and eye popping style, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

Also better acting could have helped.

I don’t know if this is the movie Speed Racer fans deserved, but it is probably the film they needed right now. It is overall okay, but one I would rather watch 90 minutes of instead of 135 minutes.

Speed 8
But they did announce that Speed Racer would appear in Fast & Furious 7, so that should be fun shenanigan wise.

2 out of 4.


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