It now seems unfortunate that I never saw this film in theatres. It was
probably because of the acclaim that “Iron Man” was receiving and the
lashing that “Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” got
from fanboys. This film was for the most part badly reviewed garnering
only a measly 36% from Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 6.4/10 on IMDB.
As a result, this film really never made it to the top of my list for
“must see” as honestly at the time, I didn’t really care. I really felt
the film was hokey at best.
Yes, the directors of the film are
the “famed” Wachowski brothers, who’s best work is “The Matrix”. But
this film ended up hitting at a wrong time and unfortunately got
quickly overshadowed by “Iron Man”. Not to mention, nothing about the
“Wachowski” name really got me as excited for this film, unlike the
name Robert Downey Jr. for “Iron Man”. Another issue that kind of lead
to this films demise, is that “Speed Racer” never was that big. I mean
sure, as a kid I remember episodes on Cartoon Network, but other than
that it was nothing. Yes, I wasn’t around when this originally debuted
in the U.S., but the problem was this was not originally American. It
was an imported show from Japan that had a small following, during a
time in which the U.S. was much more “pro-U.S. production” than it is
now. It simply stayed around for all the Anime lovers out there on a
very niche network. The final nail in the coffin for me not to see this
film, were the box office numbers. “Iron Man” exploded out of the gate
and by the end of its run raked in over 400% of its budget ($585
million worldwide). On the flipside, “Speed Racer” stumbled out of the
block and simply seemed to quit as it ended up being $26 million short
of its budget. Just for added perspective, this film finished 64th and
62nd for overall gross domestically and worldwide, respectively, behind
such films as “Nim’s Island”, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, and “Beverly
Hills Chihuahua” among others.
Is this move really that bad? I
was fortunate enough to catch “Speed Racer” on HBO one day and thought,
“Well, might as well”. And after watching the last 25 minutes of the
film, I fell in love. But why?
Though I will agree that the
themes aren’t necessarily very strong, the story is actually very
concise and the visuals are absolutely amazing. In my opinion just as
good as “Iron Man” and I personally like this film better. This film
deals with integrity, perseverance, and overall morality, yet is
packaged in a frenetic, fast paced action film. I have seen in some
reviews where they trash the film because of the frantic pace and
flashy visuals, while not having any substance. Yes there is a frantic
pace and flashy visuals, but it all ties into what the film is all
about; in a hectic and crazy world, we sometimes feel as though we are
on a ride that we can’t control, just going with the flow being
manipulated and pushed in all directions. Though the overlying theme in
this film is integrity, the underlying theme is enjoying life by
slowing down and recognizing the important things and not letting
others get the best of us. This is all wrapped up in the montage in the
final race. Of course I am no doubt a sucker for voice-over montages
and this film has plenty of them; but I love how this film has
foreshadowing that all ties in at the end.
Other parts of this
film that I absolutely love are not only the high contrast visuals, but
the way transitions in this film are used. They basically use a simple
wipe, but with characters or other objects in the frame being the wipe.
Also, the music for this film is just fantastic! Michael Giacchino is
quickly becoming one of my favorite composers. His musical cues
heighten every scene with that extra bit of emotionality.
this film is one of my favorites. It was a great summer blockbuster
film, that just didn’t have the right timing. I strongly urge people to
pick this film up. I really don’t think you’ll be dissapointed. I just
recently bought the Blu-Ray version and it looks stunning! A feel good
film, a fun film, a smart film, a solid film!