Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA/Australia/Germany, 2008. Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, Silver Pictures, Anarchos Productions, Velocity Productions, Studio Babelsberg. Screenplay by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, based on the animated series by Tatsuo Yoshida. Cinematography by David Tattersall. Produced by Grant Hill, Joel Silver, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski. Music by Michael Giacchino. Production Design by Owen Paterson. Costume Design by Kym Barrett. Film Editing by Roger Barton, Zach Staenberg.
A strong contender for Most Annoying Film Of All Time, adapted from the popular Japanese television series by the Wachowskis to look like a cartoon in live-action form. What it actually looks like is a late-night commercial that you cannot escape, with constantly overlapping imagery, intentionally false backdrops and queasily colourful interiors occasionally interrupted by some genuinely beautiful racing scenes that see computer graphically enhanced automobiles racing on magically animated roadways. The focus of the story is Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer, fixated from childhood on cars and living with his mechanic dad (John Goodman) in the shadow of his now-deceased, celebrity driver older brother. Speed makes an enemy of shady business tycoon Roger Allam when he rejects his offer of partnership, instead getting involved in a scheme with the feds to take Allam down along with a nefarious gangster, both of whom are responsible for the Grand Prix’s having become a crooked event. This sounds like such a simple plot and yet the filmmakers need 135 minutes and a chimpanzee to tell it, with very little time spent on the clever chase sequences and most of it wasted on unnecessary dialogue exchanges that do little in the way of character development. Christina Ricci is terribly overwrought as Speed’s girlfriend Trixie, looking utterly confused about what she is even doing there, while Susan Sarandon contributes some nice moments as his supportive mother, but most of the time this film makes less sense than Tron and has none of its ingenuity or fun.