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Review: Speed Racer

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Crash! Bang! A Technicolor dream full of twists and turns and chimps plays out before you all at hyperspeed. Are you ready? Fasten your seat belts, ‘cause here we go. Summer is now here and ‘Speed Racer,’ is one of the first ones out of the gates.

The Wachowski’s ‘Speed Racer,’ is an all out assault on the senses. Fast moving, quickly cut, and a blur of rich colors. The story of Speed is well known, but allow me a quick re-cap.

Speed Racer grows up obsessed with cars. He drives for Team Racer, with his father as a manager. They both mourn the loss of Speed’s older brother, Rex, killed in, what else, a car accident. Speed picks up where his brother left off and soon becomes a world-reknowned racer. Then Royalton shows up. He wants Speed to race for him, and lays the world at his feet. Will Speed take Royalton up on his offer? Will he survive if he doesn’t? Will Speed’s younger brother Spritle and Chimp Chip, his pet monkey survive the sugar overdose they receive when they raid Royalton’s candy supply? All important questions, no doubt. No need to fear, ‘Speed Racer,’ answers them all. Sadly, it does it in a frenetic way that leaves the mind reeling, and not in a good way.

Simply put: ‘Speed Racer’ is a bit of a mess. It’s too fast, too heavy on special effects and too all over the map to provoke any strong emotion. (It’s also too long.) The Wachowski’s sugar coat everything in the movie in an effort to make it go down all the more easier, but the sugar soon wears off and you’re left wondering what you’re looking at.

The world of Speed Racer is confusing that I, unfamiliar with the popular animated TV show, was left a little dizzy by all the information that was thrown at me. The race track itself is odd, with twists and turns and jumps and, while I know this is a movie and realism isn’t the point, I was just confused about how all this sort of stuff was supposed to happen. The world of the movie just didn’t take me in and show me all the wonders it had to offer. Instead, it chose to throw the wonders at me at breakneck speed.

There is little to be said about the acting. That’s not why you go see a movie like this and everyone involved seemed to agree with this point. The film was shot primarily in front of a green screen, with the background being added later. I’m happy to report that some improvements have been made in the SFX category, and things, (for the most part,) don’t have the same bizarre sheen that gave me such a problem with the Star Wars movies.

Spritle and Chimp Chimp steal the movie. The annoying little brother character is a bit of a trademark in these sorts of films, and the Wachowski’s take the conventional and twist it just enough that it’s kind of fun to see. (The film also features the best performance by a chimp in years.) The film is funny and entertaining, but to what end? I found myself wishing for it to be over and the assault to be done with. All in all, you could do worse than ‘Speed Racer.’ But you could also do a lot better. -Sam

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