Speed Racer

By Shamus
on Jan 2, 2008
Filed under:
Movies


I’m facinated by what lengths they’ve gone to to preserve the cartoon feel of the original. Even the acting seems to mimic the odd rhythm and ham-fisted dialog of the original – which was that way because it was an English dub. They’re really trying to make a cartoon with live characters. They’re trying to make it cheesy, because the original was cheesy. This is in contrast to something like the Transformers, where they tried hard to make the movie cool and edgy without bothering to smarten up the plot. Here it looks like they are embracing the nature of the original, goofyness and all. Note how they will show shots of still characters with a blur of lines in the background. Originally this was done to save money, because it was really easy to animate. Doing the same thing in live action actually costs more money, because it’s a special effect. So they’re going out of their way to replicate the aspects of the original that were the result of having a low animation budget, and spending more money to do it!

I predict the the appeal of the movie will be directly propotional to the viewer’s fondness for the original. I was never into Speed Racer that much, but I’ll watch it out of curiosity. This is very unconventional, and even if I don’t like the result it will be worth watching the attempt.

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20929 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. heather says:

    I disagree–I LOVED Speed Racer as a kid (if you recall there was the whole pretend friend thing) and have absolutely, positively NO interest in seeing this. Stupid Wachowski Brothers.

  2. ChattyDm says:

    I will watch anything that makes a healthy use of The Rule of Cool.

    I never watched Speed Racer, mostly because it wasn’t dubbed in French when I was a pre-teen in the 80’s and it didn’t play on the american channels we got at home (Montreal).

    But based on this trailer… I’ll rent it for sure or go see with my 30 something geek squad!

  3. ChattyDm says:

    Oops, I apologize for the awful use of the XHTML tag…

  4. Telas says:

    Shamus, you pegged what was bugging me about the trailer. Initially, the cartoonish look reminded me of Dick Tracy, and made me think that this would suck more than Gigli, and almost as much as Highlander 2. (I know, those are harsh words…)

    Given your insight (re-creating the look and feel of the cartoon in live action), it looks like I’ll have to retract that statement.

    I like my crow medium-well, please.

  5. Tango says:

    All of my friends who have seen the trailer have declared they will not be joining me in seeing the movei :(

  6. Dr-Online says:

    Tango:

    I’ll go with ya.

    In all seriousness though, this seems like it’ll be a fun movie.

  7. Shamus says:

    Chatty DM: No problem. I *think* I repaired the comment. Let me know (or repost) if I just messed it up.

  8. Zaghadka says:

    Reminds me of when Disney did “Dick Tracy” live action. I went to see it at 12am, and got a tee-shirt to prove it. That movie was horrible.

    This one looks about the same.

  9. Alex says:

    I may be inclined to see it only if there is sparked interest within my circle of friends and/or there is nothing else left to see.

  10. Deoxy says:

    You know, the real shame about the Transformers movie is that it could have been quite a bit better just with better editing (the plot wasn’t that bad, it was just poorly executed in many places).

    And it could have been quite a bit better without any MAJOR reshoots, just by avoiding certain obvious impossibilities and other logical problems in the dialogue.

    Oh well.

    Oh, and I have absolutely no interest in this movie… Speed Racer ALWAYS seemed dumb to me.

  11. Shawn says:

    I liked Speed Racer enough when I was in high school and MTV ran it at like 1 AM. This just looks like ass. Complete and total ass. Thankfully, this trailer was very good at going “Hey Shawn, you can totally save some money and two hours of your life by not seeing this movie.”

  12. Davesnot says:

    I’m hoping they used all the parts with dialogue for the clip.. the movie should be lots of groans and shocked gasps.. and driving… god I hope so… This is the first live action they’ve done of a cartoon that I really care about.. and I’m 42..

    Of course.. they got the wrong guy for Speed… Jeff Gordon IS Speed Racer… I hope they don’t butcher the song too much…

    ..or.. they butcher the whole thing soooo much that nobody really links it to the real speed racer.

  13. Lord_Viper says:

    Right now, it’s hard to say whether I’ll be watching the movie or not. The trailer seems very odd to me and it really doesn’t help the fact that I don’t remember the anime very well.

    Oh, and BTW, did you guys notice that there are two different cars in the trailer ? There’s the Mach 5 (obviously), and by the end of the trailer you can see Speed Racer in a one-seat car with a number “6” on the door. The “Mach 6” perhaps ?

    I was wondering: did the anime had that car ? Perhaps someone remembers.

    Regards !

  14. Cineris says:

    Something about this trailer reminds me of the live-action Scooby Doo movies they made a few years ago…

  15. wildweasel says:

    Much like every other movie that I ended up loving, most people seem to hate it right off the bat. Such is the case with Super Mario Bros, both Final Fantasy movies, Doom, and the original Charlie’s Angels movie. I am fairly interested in seeing this one myself because of its unique visual style, despite what everybody’s saying already.

  16. RPharazon says:

    Looks good enough, I guess. I like the special effects, but where are all the desert racing scenes? It seems that every episode I saw was set in the desert.

    Also, that angry guy from V for Vendetta is in the movie. That’s nice. :)

  17. Zack says:

    I thought the trailer was pretty cool. Preserving the original feel seems humorous and fun. *heh* Now I don’t normally like racing, and I haven’t watched the series for decades but I am moderately tempted by the movie now.

    Of course I rarely go see movies… but if I did…

  18. lplimac says:

    Yet another childhood memory destroyed by Hollywood becase they can’t come up with an original idea.

  19. Cadamar says:

    I probably won’t see this in the theater, but I do want to see it. By trying to replicate the style elements of the cartoon the producers have taken a VERY (financially) risky direction with this film. By actually following through with the extreme stylistic and symbolic aspects of the design they are giving up on the attempt to appeal to a broad audience. The only people that will see this film are the ones who loved Speed Racer as kids and those that get dragged along with them. This is a shame. Hollywood movies have become SO predictable and conformist. It’s almost like the writers have been replaced by random script generators and the directors toolbox is as limited as in the Movies PC game. It’s a very rare film these days where the producers and director are willing to take the kind of risks that we are seeing here. So kudos to them. I hope it does well. My fear is that they will over do it to the point of distraction.

    Lord_Viper:
    Despite the unique visual style of the film, I doubt the plot will be unique. My bet is that to play on the emotions of the fanboys, the Mach5 will be destroyed about half way through the movie through some sort of terrible betrayal or cheating on the part of the antagonist. This will be the emotional low point for the protagonist from which he will have to struggle up from, overcoming both is inner uncertanty as well as the antagonist’s efforts. Pretty standard Man vs Man plus Man vs Himself plot. Then the Mach6, which is incomplete, will have to be rushed into action without proper testing of all of the new and marketable-as-toys features. By giving it a sense of unpredictable performance they can heighten the tension in the final, climactic race. Sorry, I didn’t mean to give away any spoilers… this is just a prediction.

  20. -Chipper says:

    I watched SR as a kid & liked it. This trailer makes me want to see the movie. I’d prefer this sort of approach – true to the original feel of the series over the approaches used in most other movie or TV series remakes – “Let’s make it edgy!” (Battlestar Gallactica) or “Let’s spoof it & make fun of the original” (Brady Bunch, Starsky & Hutch). Neither approach really shows the producers even understood the original let alone loved it like the fans.

  21. NobleBear says:

    I don’t know.

    Like with anything it’ll come down to writing. I’ll give it a shot if only to see sharp visuals on a large screen and as a fun date movie to take my wife on. Also, it’ll be nice to see the Wachowski’s do a movie thats not intended to double as a gnostic parable or will suddenly start impersonating DBZ at its dramatic climax.

  22. DarkLadyWolf says:

    I remember I used to watch Speed Racer a lot. I don’t, however, remember much about it beyond the cool buttons on the steering wheel.

    However, that trailer makes me want to see it. I love the risk they seem to be taking, and I think it’ll be interesting if nothing else.

    Heck, it might even be *gasp* fun!

  23. Nano says:

    I’m going to see it just to see Matthew Fox as Racer X.

  24. theonlymegumegu says:

    I’m pretty much in the same boat as Shamus. I was never into Speed Racer, so when I heard about it going into production I basically reacted w/ an “Oh, neat,” and let it fall off the radar. When my brother showed me the trailer a few weeks ago, I have to admit I became interested in seeing it when it came out. As soon as I saw that the racing was all… F-Zero-like and that the feel of the movie was made to be very cartoony (and reminiscent of Japanese movies like the Cutey Honey movie, IMO), the movie went back on the radar for me. My interest is piqued.

  25. AngiePen says:

    I think it looks like it could be great fun [crossed fingers] but then I was a major Speed Racer fan in the late sixties. :D I’ll definitely give it a shot; I just hope they pull it off.

    Angie

  26. StephenB says:

    I like the surrealistic effect of the race scenes that remind me of the over-the-top racing in the original cartoon. Go Speed Racer, Go!

  27. Jimmie says:

    No. Absolutely freaking not.

    I loved the original Speed Racer. I own the DVD sets. The episodes with the “Monster Car” (which was really a huge freaking truck that towed like a bazillion trailers) still gives me the same chillbumps it did when I was a kid.

    I will not see this movie. No way, no how. I disagree with Shawn, though. The new movie isn’t ass. It’s worse than ass. I’d rather sit through three showings of “Manos: The Hand of Fate” before I’d sit through half of this desecration of my childhood.

  28. Aufero says:

    I was completely addicted to the series in the late 60’s and I watched the reruns for a good decade afterwards, but that trailer makes me wonder if it’s worth going to see the movie.

  29. OM3G4 says:

    Jimmie: can you elaborate?

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