Sunday, May 18, 2008

Speed Racer - SFX Whore's Die-Die-Must-Watch

When Jerrick called me along to watch Speed Racer with Sham, I went knowing nothing of it except that it used to be some uber popular TV series. Because of our borderline morbid need of movie munchies, we were 5min late for showtime, which I guess is 1-2min movie time. Nothing important missed.

Speed Racer puts you in a futuristic world, where a loudly colored panther-sleek car sits in front of just about any house. Think of it as Telladega Nights set in the future, where race tracks can make even the biggest rollercoaster buffs blanch and the greatest park ride engineers gape. And then think of that combined with Step Up 2, where our hero takes to underground racing, complete with dirty tricks and crazy car mods, to curb the profit making plans of an underhanded businessman. The combination provides for teeth gritting action and nerve wracking stunts.

I heard that many people detest Speed Racer and advise other people not to watch it. The only reason I can think of for that is the same reason why I love it to bits - the movie is quite basically a green screen orgy. I'd say 85-90% of the film was shot in front of a green screen, and I guess people interpret that as convenient film making. Just film, remove, paste fancy background. To me, and you can call me biased because I'm a helpless sucker for crazy ass effects, I think Speed Racer can get away with that, given its sci-fi/fantasy/cartoon-y nature. If you were to shoot like Money No Enough in front of a green screen, that would be a wtf. But Speed Racer probably won't be Speed Racer without CGI on crack. And sometimes it even seems that they deliberately leave it a little untouched, so that its an obvious green screen scene, to remind you of its fantastical nature.

Alot of the movie's excellence was explained when I finally realised during the credits that the Wachowski brothers directed it. It explains the sequencing style of the film (flashback galore), its beautiful pacing, and pin sharp cinematography. I also think that the burning bright colors of Speed Racer are the Wachowski brothers' way of making it up to themselves and their fans because they just couldn't be as brilliant in the darker worlds of The Matrix and V for Vendetta.

You should be warned though not to expect too much out of the plot. The plot in Speed Racer is kind of a secondary thing, just there to lend support to the film, and prevent it from being a total testosterone/geek flick. So go watch it to be dazzled by the kickass races, ingenious stunts, and countless "How the mother did they do that?!" moments, not for a touching story of love romance and sacrifice.

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