Fuel up the Mach 5, because Speed Racer is the Greatest Movie EVER!
Click on the movie poster or the title above to download our review of the film,
featuring Daryl Surat of AnimeWorldOrder and Thomas Pandich.
Review in a Nutshell: Critically savaged and commercially unsuccessful, Speed Racer is a visually imaginative family film directed by the Wachowskis. Some people will not be able to enjoy the film’s super-saturated color palette and kinetic editing, but upon re-watching it, I discovered a film with a surprisingly resonant emotional core.
A great podcast. I guess one difference between adapting anime versus comics to Hollywood is that even if the comics also have only a small fan audience, they were generally created by Americans for Americans. I argue that in this case, nationality trumps niche; not so much because of xenophobia but because, with the comic, the basic character concepts and plot logic are more easily translated to American film because the source material was also American. By contrast, I believe anime is very much Japanese first and niche entertainment second. If someone does want to make a Hollywood version of an anime, it might be worthwhile to also study how Hollywood succeeded or failed at adapting Japanese live-action films (not just anime and manga adaptations); there might be some lessons there.
You mentioned the long development hell of Speed Racer, dating back to the early 90s. There actually was a modest revival of Speed Racer in the public consciousness back then, based around its re-airing on MTV, the “Speed Racer” club track by Alpha Team, and the character being licensed by Pitney-Bowes for their commercials. In other words, the film didn’t have to depend entirely on the nostalgia of kids old enough to have seen it in the 60s and 70s, and if the movie had gotten made quicker, before the revival faded, it might have done better (it also would have likely been a very different movie).
I did spend ten bucks on this at the theaters when it came out and my views mirrors what Paul felt about it then. For me, it was the indirect linearity that confused me a bit. I didn’t came to this expected an arthouse aesthetic, but that’s what I got. It especially irked me during the whole bit with Speed meeting the villain and having to lose in the next race through those flash forward/back bits. It annoyed me, but then I’m not the guy who’s into those movies anyway.
I will say it was perfect casting for John Goodman doing Pops. Really dig his role here. Also props for the extra mile in getting Fernandez and Orr for this. Certainly far better than Dragonball Evolution or the Astroboy movie I wasted my time on. If I ever Get it on Blu-ray of it someday, i’ll give it another chance, like the Dark Horse release of the manga I still haven’t soiled my fingers in.
Next time, you should review The Adventures of Tintin!
I saw this when it was in theaters with my 10 year old nephew. I liked it at the time. I didn’t really have any nostalgia for Speed Racer so I didn’t have reservation about it. I think I may have seen a clip late at night and thought it was funny how Speed talked and that there was a monkey in it.
Plus I had a huge crush on Matthew Fox at the time, so there is that.
I will definitely look into getting the movie on Bluray. Funny enough I don’t even own a Bluray player but I own a lot of Blurays.
I’m also glad that Paul changed his mind about the movie, I have been listening to the archives and find that some movies he hated are movies that I enjoyed or at least didn’t think that they were so reprehensible. Another great podcast and look forward to the next one.
It’s one of those movies I didn’t like when I saw parts of it on HBO and as a “showcase” for (then-new) high-Hz HDTVs.
Maybe I’ll like it better if I give it another chance?
Tim- if you borrow the bluray from a friend then please watch the making of/car fu stuff. It will give you a whole new appreciation on the movie.