Speed Racer

Film

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Fri May 2 2008

To say that ‘Speed Racer’ is colourful would be as misleading as claiming that it’s quiet and meditative. Its palette makes ‘The Wizard of Oz’ look like an episode of ‘EastEnders’. Its furious pace and movement make Road Runner seem narcoleptic. This live-action cartoon of a film loudly thrusts a 1960s Japanese animé series into the twenty-first century.

It’s the first film from writers and directors Andy and Larry Wachowski since their ‘Matrix’ trilogy and here they present a comic strip world played out in a post-Playstation era. Once again they employ and surpass the limitless perspective of a computer game. Their camera (if you can call it that – the film was produced entirely on a green screen) can leap stadiums and entire cities. Geography is of the Gran Turismo sort: nobody blinks when a motor race traverses continents, mountains and deserts to cross the finishing-line at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

The dual worlds of ‘Speed Racer’ are the suburban home and the cut-and-thrust arena of the racetrack. The neon spectacle of the latter informs the look of the entire film. Lawns are day-glo. Home furnishings are orange. On the track, cars look like dragsters but drive like futuristic robots. Our hosts, the Racer family, are a mid-century sort of unit, not unlike the Flintstones or the Jetsons, whose prehistoric or inter-galactic settings were never as important as having a new fridge or its prehistoric or inter-galactic equivalent.

There’s portly Pops (John Goodman), domestic Mom (Susan Sarandon) and young Spritle (Paulie Litt), who hangs out with a real chimp. Our main man, though, is Speed (Emile Hirsch), a good kid, with James Dean looks, whose passion for racing is fuelled by the memory of his brother’s death on the track. Speed is a rising champion who resists the tempting offers of a grand prix magnate, Royalton (Roger Allam), who looks like Christopher Hitchens.

Thematically, it’s classic stuff: the little guy versus the corporation, free will versus destiny. Only the telling, as you’d expect from the Wachowskis, pushes the boundaries of what we expect from the image. It’s so quick that classic edits go out the window; scenes play in extreme close-up, while another angle of the story unfolds behind it on kaleidoscopic wallpaper. You might not follow everything, and kids may be confused by some of the corporate shenanigans, but the two races towards the end of the film gee up the overlong, two-hour plus runtime.If the prevailing mood of the ‘Matrix’ series was dark and suspicious, this is light all the way, and with its tongue firmly in its cheek. It doesn’t make for original storytelling, acting, or writing, but the spectacle eclipses those expectations. Just don’t forget your sunglasses.

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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:16
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|37
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leo

the only thing missing was the theme tune that could be used more often, they were so economic with it that the very few seconds of it watered mee eyes! watching four yeas later 'cause i am that switched on what's new, but damn it was good.

leo

the only thing missing was the theme tune that could be used more often, they were so economic with it that the very few seconds of it watered mee eyes! watching four yeas later 'cause i am that switched on what's new, but damn it was good.

Adypops

I adored second of the film. It was light enough for small ones but deliciously dark for the grown ups. It was a joy to watch, hence me rushing to ebay to order my copy

Adypops

I adored second of the film. It was light enough for small ones but deliciously dark for the grown ups. It was a joy to watch, hence me rushing to ebay to order my copy

Simon Caleb

I went into to this with neutral expectations. And left my first Imax viewing with eyes watering, jaw flapping in the wind and looking in my diary for my next available night to watch it again! Stunning, eye bending eye candy. Kitch, ever so slightly camp, and more fun than it ever had any right to be. For all adults who are in touch with their inner child. What a trip!

Simon Caleb

I went into to this with neutral expectations. And left my first Imax viewing with eyes watering, jaw flapping in the wind and looking in my diary for my next available night to watch it again! Stunning, eye bending eye candy. Kitch, ever so slightly camp, and more fun than it ever had any right to be. For all adults who are in touch with their inner child. What a trip!

Hannah

I give four stars to the special effects. 2 for the storyline. In some parts I'm like, what the..? It just leaves you blank and then when that guy stuck his hand in the pirahnna tank I dont think kids would like to see that, let alone think of that. It was definately japenese anime for you. Confused. I thought lightning was alright. His brother looked more like speedracer to me. The other guy didnt quite fill out lightnings personality. Wasnt he alot louder, more than quiet? The little guy and his chimp played the perfect part. Good job. I only watched the show twice when I was a teen but I know the main characters. That guy with the english accent was plain crazy! Well, thats my review. Great graphics! I give it thumbs up for entertainment.

Hayley

Admittedly the film was a bit too long and there WERE parts which could have been cut out to make it better, but it was still an AMAZING ride with lots of fun to be had and even some surprisingly emotional moments. People have become so hardened and accustomed to crappy doomsday film shit that I really see it as no surprise that this is being slandered so much. It's such a shame really. I don't care what all you haters say - this isn't a movie this is ART. And even stepping past the (practically orgasmic) visuals, there's still a grounded enough storyline and enough heart to carry it through, even though the fuel the film runs on IS the awe inspiring CGI. It's voluptuous, daring, and boasts of it's amazing colour palette and spectacle. Have an open mind people, DON'T be influenced by haters and go and see it! And for people who say it's "100% CGI and annoying" ohhh.... grow up. People have put time and a hell of a lot of money and effort into this film and the soul in which these extrodinary visuals gift the film with is truly beautiful.

Hayley

Admittedly the film was a bit too long and there WERE parts which could have been cut out to make it better, but it was still an AMAZING ride with lots of fun to be had and even some surprisingly emotional moments. People have become so hardened and accustomed to crappy doomsday film shit that I really see it as no surprise that this is being slandered so much. It's such a shame really. I don't care what all you haters say - this isn't a movie this is ART. And even stepping past the (practically orgasmic) visuals, there's still a grounded enough storyline and enough heart to carry it through, even though the fuel the film runs on IS the awe inspiring CGI. It's voluptuous, daring, and boasts of it's amazing colour palette and spectacle. Have an open mind people, DON'T be influenced by haters and go and see it! And for people who say it's "100% CGI and annoying" ohhh.... grow up. People have put time and a hell of a lot of money and effort into this film and the soul in which these extrodinary visuals gift the film with is truly beautiful.

Stan

Please ignore usman, he just comes on here to use dead clever words. Likes "caveats" and "self-indugence" best, don't you ay? Love the "precious time" comment on this one. he he. Anyway, what a brilliant film. Wasn't sure when I saw the trailor cos of all the computery looking stuff and racing which isn't normally my thing, but this was ace. Agree with Paul on the IMAX thing.

Stan

Please ignore usman, he just comes on here to use dead clever words. Likes "caveats" and "self-indugence" best, don't you ay? Love the "precious time" comment on this one. he he. Anyway, what a brilliant film. Wasn't sure when I saw the trailor cos of all the computery looking stuff and racing which isn't normally my thing, but this was ace. Agree with Paul on the IMAX thing.

jfsebastian

Sometimes we lose track of the many roles cinema has to play. As well as stirring the emotions, it can be thought-provoking, sometimes profound. However, sometimes it can just be eye-candy. This film has no aspirations to be anything but the latter - it screams "Look at what we've done now!", to which I can only reply "Wow". There are many who will find this film shallow and unpalatable - it is certainly lacking in any subtlety. My advice to them is to relax a bit, take deep breaths, and just let go...

jfsebastian

Sometimes we lose track of the many roles cinema has to play. As well as stirring the emotions, it can be thought-provoking, sometimes profound. However, sometimes it can just be eye-candy. This film has no aspirations to be anything but the latter - it screams "Look at what we've done now!", to which I can only reply "Wow". There are many who will find this film shallow and unpalatable - it is certainly lacking in any subtlety. My advice to them is to relax a bit, take deep breaths, and just let go...

BILLY

THE BEST FILM EVER,PLZ GO AND SEE IT ,IF YOU DONT YOUR CRAZY,THE 3D WORDERFULL GOODNESS.JUST SEE IT,ME AND MY FREIND CAME OUT THEN WENT TO SEE IT TWICE MORE AFTER THAT I WAS SO GOOD.

BILLY

THE BEST FILM EVER,PLZ GO AND SEE IT ,IF YOU DONT YOUR CRAZY,THE 3D WORDERFULL GOODNESS.JUST SEE IT,ME AND MY FREIND CAME OUT THEN WENT TO SEE IT TWICE MORE AFTER THAT I WAS SO GOOD.

BOB

PERFECT,GOOD EXCITING,THE BEST!!! GO AND SEE IT I LOVED IT.

BOB

PERFECT,GOOD EXCITING,THE BEST!!! GO AND SEE IT I LOVED IT.

jon

great film, it is over the top but that is what makes it good, worth a watch

jon

great film, it is over the top but that is what makes it good, worth a watch

kiwiboy

...totally cool in bits (the racing) but not enough bits between boring melodrama to hold my attention - let alone that of the average ten-year-old who'll wanna see it). A family near me had to practically hog-tie and gag their kiddies to get them through aforementioned melodrama without them disturbing other viewers. Parents beware and heed Timeout's 'overlong' tag.

Paul

I have seen Persepolis, An Unbearable Likeness of Being and even Festen. I saw Speed Racer after listening to Kermode and must admit I had a great night and would rather like seeing it again on IMAX.

Paul

I have seen Persepolis, An Unbearable Likeness of Being and even Festen. I saw Speed Racer after listening to Kermode and must admit I had a great night and would rather like seeing it again on IMAX.

steven matthews

this is a class movie with all the cheesiness of the 60's music ,clothing and richard roundtree (shaft) awsome man

steven matthews

this is a class movie with all the cheesiness of the 60's music ,clothing and richard roundtree (shaft) awsome man

Matt

Speed Racer is AMAZING! From the first to the last frame of the movie it exudes a kind of class that it's extremely rare in my opinion to find on film. The movie is NOT about motor racing, it's about the dynamic of family and is both an emotional rollercoaster as well as being a visually stunning assault on the senses. Combined I can honestly say that it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. There is nothing more to say except put all pre-conceptions and expectations about Speed Racer aside and go watch it - it is awesome beyond words.

Matt

Speed Racer is AMAZING! From the first to the last frame of the movie it exudes a kind of class that it's extremely rare in my opinion to find on film. The movie is NOT about motor racing, it's about the dynamic of family and is both an emotional rollercoaster as well as being a visually stunning assault on the senses. Combined I can honestly say that it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. There is nothing more to say except put all pre-conceptions and expectations about Speed Racer aside and go watch it - it is awesome beyond words.

anonymous

i saw it this afternoon, and i loved it. at first, i thought the plot was a bit weak and everything was a bit scatty, but by the end of it you're sitting there screaming "GO SPEED GO!" because you're so hypnotized by the pretty colours and cars. probably not everyone's cup of tea, though.

anonymous

i saw it this afternoon, and i loved it. at first, i thought the plot was a bit weak and everything was a bit scatty, but by the end of it you're sitting there screaming "GO SPEED GO!" because you're so hypnotized by the pretty colours and cars. probably not everyone's cup of tea, though.

Pile

I just came back from a screening of this movie and I know I wasn't a minority in really enjoying this film. It is chaotic and visually over-the-top, and unlike other films there is no ambiguity in deciding that you have to suspend your disbelief to accept the world in which the movie plays, but I thoroughly enjoyed Speed Racer.

Pile

I just came back from a screening of this movie and I know I wasn't a minority in really enjoying this film. It is chaotic and visually over-the-top, and unlike other films there is no ambiguity in deciding that you have to suspend your disbelief to accept the world in which the movie plays, but I thoroughly enjoyed Speed Racer.

Darren McKenzie

they did write V for Vendetta after the matrix so its not there first film since then. Green screen movies are the way of the future I thin Sky Captain 300 Sin City all stunning looking movies if underwritten in places.