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An over-the-top, sensory overload experience determined to replicate its frantic, television-anime origins,Speed Raceris wild enough to induce a headache or wow a viewer with one dazzling effect after another. Adapted for the big screen as a live-action feature,Speed Raceris written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the sibling team behind the intensely satisfyingThe Matrixand its busier, less interesting sequels. Where the rich mythmaking ofThe Matrixwas entirely accessible, however,Speed Racer's overwhelming and gratuitously complicated story exposition is an enormous challenge to follow, let alone embrace. After a while, one simply surrenders to the unbroken din of dialogue concerning corporate chicanery, corruption in the sport of racing, and a value conflict between racing as a family business versus multinational cash cow. At the same time, the film's hyper-real equivalent of the oldSpeed Racercartoon's great whoosh of color, motion, and edgy production design--such as inventive uses of scene-changing wipes, bold framing, shifting perspectives--are more overbearing than fun.

Emile Hirsch plays Speed Racer, younger brother of a deceased racing legend, Rex, and son of car designer Pops (John Goodman). The latter invented Speed's Mach 5, and is singularly unimpressed by an offer from a giant conglomerate that would lock Speed into exclusive racing services. Speed opts instead for family loyalty, incurring the wrath of the conglomerate's unctuous head (Roger Allam). With family honor on the line and the affections of girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) behind him, Speed hits the track in hopes of fulfilling his destiny as a master racer. The cast is largely enjoyable, including Susan Sarandon as Speed's mom, Matthew Fox as mysterious Racer X, and a pair of chimps as the irrepressible Chim-Chim. All well and good, but in a movie that lives or dies by the excitement level of races that look like computer-animated Hot Wheels action, Speed Racer is a dreary adventure. --Tom Keogh

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CastSusan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, Emile Hirsch
DirectorAndy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
DVD Release Date:  September 16, 2008
Runtime:  135 minutes
Studio:  Warner Home Video
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review by . February 17, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Movies whose imagery are clearly the combination of live-action with animation are rare, with maybe one major release every year. Cool World and Who Framed Roger Rabbit are two examples. For 2009, Speed Racer was the only live-action animated combo movie, and did not do that well at the theaters. The movie tries to combine several themes, and tries to come of as a serious movie. There is the overall racing theme of the movie, which of course drives the special effects. Then there is the requisite …
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