Wednesday, October 08, 2008

411 - Speed Racer review

With “Speed Racer,” the Wachowski brothers set out to assault or sense but instead are only successful at molesting our good sensibilities. Their adaptation of that ancient anime is a disaster, a bloated, unwatchable mess that insists we devote 135 minutes to suffering it. Whereas the Wackowski’s “Matrix” films dazzled and stimulated moviegoers, “Speed Racer” exists to make us pick up a book.

“Speed Racer” inhabits a state of perpetual overexertion. The colors are loud, the cars are loud, the explosions are loud, and the complaints of the taste viewer are very loud. Most films with a manic energy burn out quickly, but “Speeder Racer” never causes to cool down, and at the end of the ludicrous running time, you feel scorched by the absurdity, the realization that the Wachowski’s had the audacity to expend a fortune of the studios money on their own jerk-off project. Remember that scene in “The Dark Knight” where Heath Ledger’s Joker burns a 30 foot high stack of bills? Think of that for an entire movie, only strip virtually all redeeming value first.

The cast consists of Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Christina Ricci, and Matthew Fox, a fine group of actors that apparently wanted to do the sort of movie that would get them posted on the side of an entire building. My longtime readers will remember that I often note that even big stars need to get their kitchens remodeled. For participation in this, I hope every member of the cast bought a house in the Hamptons.

The plot follows the Racer family, a bunch of brain-dead virgins looking to get their kicks through racing. Makes me wonder what their last name was before they changed it. They get involved in a web of corporate intrigue that, like George Lucas before them, suggests that the Wachowski’s highly overestimate how much interest the average child has in corporate intrigue.

The only solution to the Racer’s problems? Racing, of course! The sort of racing where the winner is determined by who can press the gas pedal the hardest. I don’t watch NASCAR or anything like that, but there has to be more to it, right?

The Wachowski’s make the fatal error of mistaking juvenility for childlike wonder. They overload the film with aggressively nonsensical edits and aggressively stupid visuals that misfire not just because they’re referencing a style few people cared about anyway, but because the target audience (children) wouldn’t be able to recognize what’s being referenced.

The CGI-heavy flick sports a vivid color scheme that exists as the antithesis to the gloomy cybernoir settings of “The Matrix.” It’s obvious that they never attempted to make it look like anything other than a cartoon populated by a few living props here and there. What’s the point of this? Fantastic movie settings usually look so because we think they could be real. Drop a man into a cartoon and we’re just reminded how fake it really is.

The pic does have a sort of moral: corporations are soulless and evil. It’s a recurring theme in Hollywood movies, none of which have ever been produced by a staggeringly wealthy corporation headed by evil, soulless businessmen. Not one, and especially not this one.

1 comment:

Ramin said...

"Drop a man into a cartoon and we’re just reminded how fake it really is."

That's a great juxtapose! Did you have to think about that one before writing it? Either way, I think your reviews are always improving.