Part Two: Speed Racer (2008)
Speed Racer is notable for being one of the very first anime to be localized in English for US television, all the way back in the mid-to-late 1960s, following shows like Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. At the time, it was the most-successful Japanese cartoon in America until around the 1990s. Although still a classic, it is also remembered for its funny-looking character designs, limited animation and a very low-quality English dub, which explains why everyone talks so fast, and even more so its memorable characters and over-the-top sensibilities. Also, it had that awesome theme song.
Making a movie version of this cult favorite had been possible since the 90s, but after years of rumors, it officially got released in the summer of 2008 to initially divisive reviews and a far worse box office underperformance due to competition with films like Iron Man and the most successful film, that year, The Dark Knight. It eventually gained a cult following in recent years, with many fans such as myself finding it to be an underrated or misunderstood movie. Just like the show, the movie features the same characters with their basic personalities thrown in a professional racing league where powerful evil corporations take charge of everything, and I mean everything.
The movie stars Emile Hirsch as the title character, Christina Ricci as Trixie, John Goodman as Pops Racer, Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer, Mathew Fox as Racer X and so many other celebrities, that I feel like I would waste time mentioning.
It was an almost very revolutionary movie, that was ahead of its time when it comes to its visual style. For instance, this is the first time the Wachowskis have filmed on HD digital film format, in which it helped them utilize a layering approach that gave equal clarity to the foreground and background of each scene in the film, creating the appearance of real-life anime. In short, it’s a live-action cartoon. I honestly think, it’s unfortunate that this spectacle was overlooked by the public, in favor of those more financially successful Transformers movies, which I might talk about at some point soon.
I think, this movie did a good job of staying true to the source material and at the same time, I’m quite surprised that the film’s leading star has pushing to do a sequel. Although, I agree with him, I admit, it would more likely take a miracle to happen. Outside of that, it’s a good movie. I give it 8.5 out of 10.
See you at the movies.