Sunday, May 11, 2008

Go Speed Racer, Go

It was a rainy yesterday today...the perfect day to catch a movie. We saw a matinee of Speed Racer. There was a time when I saw a movie a month with my husband. Those days are a distant memory since having children. We are down to a movie every 6 months, if that. When we do see a movie it is a kiddie film. Last month my husband took the children to see Horton Hears a Who. I did not join them as I was doing projects for this class. It is difficult to find a movie that a 12-year-old girl, a 9-year-old girl, and a 5-year-old boy want to see. The 12-year-old thinks she should be able to see PG-13 movies...uh, no, I don't think so. Speed Racer appealed to everyone in our family.

Speed Racer is a fast-paced movie. The car race scenes are dramatic and eye-catching. The Wachowski brothers, known for originating unique film techniques in movies such as The Matrix, based their movie on the original Speed Racer TV show, but added a couple of extra characters and expanded the backstory of the behind the scenes plot of intrigue and espionage between the different racing teams. One film technique, in particular, is the technique of having two actors in a scene with a previous scene shown in the background. The closeup shot of the actors talking is interspersed with a dramatization of what the actors are talking about. The viewer is drawn in to the action of the scene by watching the actors talking about a car crash and seeing the car crash unfold behind them. It is an example of showing and telling. The Wachowski brothers also used many closeup shots of actors.

The film sets are visually appealing as well. Many colors. Costumes are bright and garish--yellow Chuck taylors, bright red walls, brightly hued race track, etc. I don't recall the TV series very well, but the use of color works well in this film.

It was a long film, but kept my 5-year-olds attention for over 2 hours.

Here's a review from the New York Times:

Many of us who grew up watching television in the 1960s and ’70s have fond if vague memories of “Speed Racer.” Those big-eyed characters (Trixie! Speed! Racer X!), their mouths never quite moving in sync with the dialogue; those bright colors and semiabstract backgrounds; those endless, episodic story lines. Whether we knew it or not, the series was a primer in the aesthetics of Japanese animation, the love of which we could later pass along to our children. Failing that, I suppose we could subject them to Warner Brothers’ new live-action feature film, also called “Speed Racer,” which was written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski, the maestros of “The Matrix.” Like so many other expensive, technologically elaborate big-screen adaptations of venerable pop-culture staples, this movie sets out to honor and refresh a youthful enthusiasm from the past and winds up smothering the fun in self-conscious grandiosity. — A. O. Scott, The New York Times

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