Saturday, May 10, 2008

Movie Review: Speed Racer

The critics, of course, have already spoken, and if you put your hand to your ear, you can hear their cries echoing even now. They will tell you not to see this movie. They will tell you it is something no one older than twelve can enjoy. They will tell you that Speed Racer is a bad movie.

But we tell you that they are so very wrong.

As much as we love V for Vendetta, and as much as we respect The Matrix, this is the Wachowski brothers' (iD&Di: .78/.79) finest work to date. It is something we haven't seen in a long, long time: it is something new.

Ironic, that something new should be based on something old, that Speed Racer, so anchored in the past, should create such a innovative world. But this is unlike anything you've ever seen before: it is a world of color and motion.

It is not a cartoon.

Compared to Speed Racer, cartoons are bland and static. Music videos are tedious and slow. No, Speed Racer is not a cartoon, but the experience of watching a cartoon brought to new levels. It is a sugar rush, the likes of which you have never seen or felt.

It is gloriously juvenile.

Had such jokes existed in any other movie, we would have groaned in disgust. But here, in this madding, twisting, world of endless racetracks and twirling cars, we laughed in ecstasy. The comedy was not merely written for children, but rather was written as though it was written for children forty years ago.

It rejects subtlety.

And it does so without apology. It is blatant, explosive, and neon-colored. It is absurd and spectacular. Wonderful and insane. This is not filmed in three dimensions, but rather two. The actors are paper thin, edited over moving backgrounds and colorful lights.

How do we compare a movie that has no comparison? We turn, of course, to the closest things available. We look to other films with little grounding. And, when we look close enough, there are echoes. We remember Sin City, with its ink-filled comic world. We remember Tim Burton (iD&Di: .33) movies, which hold style above all else. And, of course, the strangest of Japanese Animation, such as Dragon Half: and this may come as close to the feeling of Speed Racer as we're likely to find.

But, to truly gauge such greatness, we need to compare Speed Racer to Kill Bill, the only other movie to move in such broad strokes and odd turns, the only other film to make Japanese Animation truly move in this world. Graded on a scale of one to five stars, where five stars is Kill Bill, Speed Racer receives four.

So eat a bowl of frosted flakes, topped with three tablespoons of sugar, then drive to your nearest theater right now. And, reader: drive fast.


Anonymous said...

Walking to my car after watching Speed Racer, I became genuinely concerned about my ability to safely drive home. Brought back memories of mechanically forcing myself to obey stop signs after playing GTA3.

Erin Snyder said...

Tell me about it: I almost caused an accident on the ride home, and I took a train.

Dangerous movie, folks. Dangerous movie.

Anonymous said...

Makes me wish I had come to see it with you guys now...