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Nonja-busting Action - A Speed Racer Review

Posted by Hisham
Friday 16 May 2008 at 8:51 pm.
Used tags: ,

Mach 5 vs the Shooting StarI never saw a lot of the Speed Racer toon (Japanese title: Mach! Go! Go! Go!) on TV while growing up, but I did promise Irfan to take him to watch the new movie adaptation, directed by the Wachowski brothers.

I saw the trailer weeks earlier and went in with Irfan and Ain expected a dumb storyline with epilepsy-inducing special effects. I mean, how can you make a meaningful story with the protagonist's younger brother who was always climbing into the trunk of his car (with a monkey for a best friend) and getting into screwball adventures, as his elder brother races in dangerous car races.

And "Speed Racer" was his actual name, not just his job?

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a solid, entertaining storyline with twists embedded satisfactorily within the movie, with just the right amount of drama and humour.

Yep! I loved Speed Racer!

Spritle and Chim-chimI believe the key to fully enjoying this movie is to consider the fact that it takes place in an alternate universe where technology and its application, as well as sensibilities, are different from ours. The vehicles and buildings are Gernsbackian. Everything is coloured brightly.

The story takes place in media res and takes us into several quick flashbacks, where the Racer family racing team after winning a local race is offered by a the large Royalton corporation a a very lucrative sponsorship. Does the Royalton company seem a tad too clean and squeaky for its size? Yes, and Speed declines the offer. Then everything hits the fan.

Also woven into the tale is the subplot of Racer X, a masked racer who might be Speed's racing adversary, but there is more to him than meets the eye.

I wont be going into detail about the movie, except that Pops Racer vs. a hapless ninja is one of the most laugh out loud hilarious sequences in recent movies, given the situation.

I will however rant about the way the movie is marketed, which will definitely cost it a lot of box-office earnings. If I didn't promise Irfan to see it I probably would have passed on it. The trailer was cut to reveal a wrong impression of the movie. Was it just a dream of a young Speed Racer? Were the psychidelic races video games? Would it all just be a story of winning a race with all style and no substance?

Inspector Detector, Speed  and Racer X... and a hottie engineerWhoever cut the trailer should have been drawn and quartered.

The movie had heart in spades: the importance of a family bond, and striving against rich, corrupt powermongers (cause it's not emphasised nearly enough in schools that rich, corrupt powermongers that places importance of money and power over others' well-being need to be taken down hard). Not to mention some well-placed twists in the story.

Speed Racer will probably bomb at the box office through bad marketing and it'll be a shame. It's rare that a movie can win me over immediately upon viewing it, despite a whole lot of initial misgivings.

Go Speed Racer Go!

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