Speed Racer (2008) – Movie Review

On Thursday last week, I went to see Speed Racer at the cinema. Much to my surprise, the showing at Garden City was virtually empty, considering it was the first day that it was running.

My main impression after leaving the cinema is that this movie was absolutely amazing!

It has a PG rating and is child-friendly, though a lot of the more in depth plot and concepts may be over a child’s head, the more obvious elements should keep a child, especially boys entertained. From my recollection, there is virtually no language (though it does have a language warning on the rating notes), and while there is some violence, the majority of it is either not shown, or is not gruesome or bloody.

Underneath the flashing lights and impossible (but really, really cool) driving, it has fast paced action, excellent digital effects, superb acting, and a brilliant, relevant story. To top it all off, the cinematography is stunning. Lots of bright filming, and effects build the various atmosphere’s excellently. Also added is a combination of comedy and romance, though they play minor roles in the plot, they add so much more to the story.

I’m not going to go into the story line or plot, and I will admit that some fans of the original TV series may not be as eager to praise the movie as I am (though I am also a fan of the TV series), but really, the Wachowski Brothers have done an amazing job of the movie.

As I mentioned earlier, kids may not understand, or even pick up on some parts of the plot, but many of the mystery elements that begin early on in the movie, they will be able to understand and will be guessing at them most of the way through, but they are not so obvious that an adult won’t enjoy figuring it out. Just in case the kids did miss it though, it is explained at the end, but not in a way that makes you feel silly or stupid for not figuring out, it just feels like part of the story.

I can’t really think of any movie’s off-hand that have produced an appearance anything like that of Speed Racer. The closest, cinematography wise, is probably Sin City or Sweeney Todd, except that Speed Racer does not just emphasise certain colours, but every colour (also it is child friendly). The techniques used, while they are based on lots of common techniques, have formed together to produce a very interesting and unusual style.

The average user rating on IMDB at the time of writing this is 6.6/10, which I personally think is much lower than the movie deserves. Of the 11,700 voters, 24% gave it a 10/10, and the drop off from there is understandable, then there is a large 11% that gave it a 1. As I said, I feel this is not a true rating and judging from some of the comments, I think that this is in part due to people expecting something very different from the Wachowski Brothers with movies like the Matrix under their belt. However, I don’t believe that Speed Racer was ever intended to be anything like the Matrix. The film techniques that have been used are far superior to those used in the Matrix, the story line and plot are intended to be suitable and interesting for both children and adults, and, it is working within a PG rating rather than M. In my opinion, it is actually one of the best examples of a PG movie to be released in a while. Many of the more recent PG movies would not that long ago have been closer to an M, whereas Speed Racer is, in my opinion, closer to a G.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. In fact, I want to go see it again. I would give it a 9/10.

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