Speed Racer (2008) starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Matthew Fox directed by The Wachowski Brothers Movie Review

Speed Racer (2008)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Christina Ricci and Emile Hirsch in Speed Racer (2008)

On Speed

From a young age Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) was infatuated by racing, not a surprise when his brother Rex (Scott Porter) was a top racer and his parents, Mom (Susan Sarandon) and Pops (John Goodman) run the independent Racer Motors. Now at the age of 18 Speed Racer is now a star racer himself and wanted by E.P. Arnold Royalton (Roger Allam) to race for his company who has his drivers run Speed of the road when he refuses to sign with them and stay with his parents. Things get even more complicated for Speed when another driver comes forwards with evidence against Royalton.

How do you make a movie which is 135 minutes long work for a young audience with a low attention span? You make it loud, I don't mean turning the volume up on the sound but you saturate it in bright colours, you throw in an edit after almost every second, you have fast & furious transitions, comic book characters and generally make it larger than life. That is what I assume The Wachowski Brothers intended when they made "Speed Racer" as even an explosion in a paint factory couldn't have come up with this garish looking movie by accident. Yes I did say garish and "Speed Racer" didn't work for me to the point it took a mammoth effort not to switch this movie off after just a few minutes.

But let me just say whilst I have a vague memory of hearing of the original animation series "Speed Racer" I have never watched one and knew nothing about the character, the history and so on. Maybe those who did watch the original animation will enjoy this update but for me it was a bust. Although having said that I will say that The Wachowski Brothers have achieved something which I have never seen before and in a way it felt like some one had super charged the vibrant, cartoonish style of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit".

That is the trouble as "Speed Racer" is visually super charged to the point that it is an assault on the eyes. The intentionally vibrant colour scheme, the constant editing, the fast and furious transitions it killed it for me. It also made following the storyline a chore because of the head ache inducing visuals and to be honest whilst the cast is appealing the intentional cartoon over the top characters just added to my displeasure. As I said for a young audience who might have attention problems it probably works but it didn't for me.

What this all boils down to is "Speed Racer" was just a case of too much for me and maybe if I was thirty years younger it might have worked. In the end it almost feels like a movie made by someone on speed as it is so visually out there.