Tuesday, May 06, 2008

SPEED RACER: Just Kiddie Thrills & Spills

SPEED RACER (CGI actioner)

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Rain and Matthew Fox
Director: Larry and Andy Wachowski
Time: 123 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? “Speed Racer” is a kiddie popcorn flick by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the original animated series created by Tatsuo Yoshida and produced by Tatsunoko Productions. However, unlike their "Matrix" trilogy, this one is full of Day-Glo colouring and is too artificially-sweetened for adult taste.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The story occurs in a futuristic comic-book city caught in a time-warp. Here we find young Speed Racer obsessed with auto racing even when he is in the middle of a class test. His brother, Rex (Scott Porter) is a race driver and his Pops (John Goodman) is a car-builder. Of course, Speed grows up to be hot-shot driver even though the family has lost Rex in a car crash. After winning spectacularly in a race, Speed, his girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) and family are 'courted' by the flamboyant Royalton (Roger Allam) who wants Speed to sign up with his company.

The rest is predictable stuff, alternating between racing action and downright juvenile antics of the Racer family that includes a chimp as pet. Watch out for the chimp, though. He tends to steal the show.

HITS & MISSES: The Brothers Wachowski keep everything fast-paced here. They seem to have no time for story or character development, yet the movie runs for more than two hours. Yes, we get repetitious jokes and kiddie humour, most of them provided by a chimpanzee and other human monkeys in the cast. If you are looking for big-time racing thrills and car crash spills, you won't get them here. There is no sense of danger and no consequences to road peril, just continuous cutting to new situations and unvaried high speeds. The movie, shot in enhanced colours and CGI 'templates' look attractive and unique initially. However, without proper narrative support, we get tired of them after a while.

The cast, Ricci, Hirsch and Susan Sarandon (as Speed's mom) are overwhelmed by the computer effects. Korean pop sensation Rain will probably stir up interest among Asian audiences as racer Taejo Togokahn, but even with his presence, the subplot, about Corporate Villains making a mess of the sport, gets dried up soon enough. Even Japanese thespian Hiroyuki Sanada is wasted here. His Mr Musha, another corporate monster, gets only cameo treatment.

THE LOWDOWN: Mainly for children who love the "Spy Kids" movies.


At 11:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the big evil corporation is a SUBPLOT?

hello,go back and learn what is film and story lah!


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