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Speed Racer

Describe the film in two words: Eye Candy.

The Wachowski brothers have tried to raise their own bar, and they may have succeeded visually. Every second of the film is a visual treat, as all you can think of when bombarded by the colors are lollipops and carnivals. Perhaps they made a conscious effort to veer away from the Matrix's shadow, going for extreme color as opposed to the metallic hues of the Matrix.

Before passing judgment on the filmmakers, let us first consider that this is a family film, and that should give you an idea of what to expect. It succeeds as an adaptation, with the Wachowskis drawing the line between "adaptation" and "homage". This film is clearly an example of the latter, as the bubble gum-look of the movie would not have been possible if a non-fan of the original series took the helm. The filmmakers know how to pay tribute to the original creators, and pay tribute they do, all the way to the closing song.

The movie however, fails in the storytelling, as the character development was not maximized. But that really is a difficult task, as it took years for the cartoon series to flesh out their characters, and we can't expect the Wachowskis to squeeze it all in two hours. But is the plot actually character-driven or plot-driven? It's kind of hard to decide, what with all the colors flashing before your eyes.

The cast gave good performances, despite the fact that the characters' development was sacrificed over the action. Emile Hirsch is commendable as Speed, as he actually watched every Speed Racer episode to prepare for the role. Susan Sarandon and John Goodman play the parents pretty well, and if you suspend your disbelief, you wouldn't notice that two Hollywood big-names are actually in this picture. Christina Ricci would have gotten more screen time if the Wachowskis actually developed her character a little bit, but even her romantic scenes with Speed are playfully held back (again, since this is a family film). Paulie Litt as Spritle shows promise, and I wouldn't be surprised if this kid branched out to comedy. The one who takes the cake, however, is Roger Allam as Mr. Royalton. He gives meaning to the words "despicable villain."

Again, this is a family film, and as such, should be judged according to different standards. And if you're a hard-to-please moviegoer, you can always drop some acid before watching the show.

Rating: Three and a half stars.


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