SPEED RACER (**1/2) - Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, Benno Furmann, Paulie Litt, Roger Allam, Rain and Richard Roundtree.
Directed by Andy & Larry Wachowski.
I think the movie Twins, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, is based on the true story of the Wachowski brothers. I don't know which one's which, but they seem to be the offspring of George Lucas, Michael Bay, Tarsem, McG, Sam Raimi, Robert Rodriguez and JJ Abrams via mama Kathryn Bigelow, with all the good and bad that implies.
Sometimes it's visually amazing. It's anime brought to life in a way no one has done before. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, it's also a good half-hour too long to subject its audience to such sensory overload. Everything is moving and swirling and spinning by, but my main problem with this is the racing.
Think of the podrace in The Phantom Menace. At least you had a sense of speed and distance and how far away the finish line was. Never anywhere in this movie do you get the sense of where they are in the race. It might as well be the teacups at Disneyland going very very fast. The cars spin and fly and move back and forth, but it never moved me beyond seeing actors in front of a green screen. The camera's spinning all over the place for the angles, but I felt the rush more in Pixar's Cars.
It's colorful and pretty. The actors keep it moving for the most part. I enjoyed the silky yet gravelly tone of Roger Allam as the Shakespearean villain Royalton who tempts Speed with the big sponsorships. I liked Matthew Fox as Racer X. Paulie Litt was as annoying as an anime kid should be. The Wachowskis were going for something new and I give them a lot of credit.
But somewhere in there, the actual race should matter.