Speed Racer (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
Well, this live-action, American-made movie is based on the classic-yet-ridiculous anime, Speed Racer. I haven't seen a lot of that show (and of course, only the English dub, which is no doubt much more ridiculous than the original Japanese show, "Mach Go Go Go"). But... nevertheless, it is a classic, so I was looking forward to seeing this movie (especially since Speed's girlfriend Trixie was played by Christina Ricci). Reviews of the movie were mostly negative, and box office gross was... less than it cost to make, I guess. So, it was a failure. But I liked it anyway. Though I didn't get a chance to see it in the theater, I eventually saw it on DVD.
Um... well, there are a few car races in the movie, of course, which kind of remind me of another anime, IGPX. Although I must say, the races look less realistic in this movie than they do in cartoons. I kept thinking it would hardly look less realistic if you just filmed toy cars on a Hot Wheels playset. Still, as ridiculously unbelievable as it was, at least it was fun to look at, I guess.
Anyway, at the start of the film, we see flashbacks to young Speed Racer, a boy who is obsessed with race cars. Which is hardly surprising, since his dad, Pops Racer (John Goodman), designs race cars, and Speed's older brother, Rex (whom he idolizes), is one of the greatest race car drivers ever. We also see, briefly, the start of a friendship between Speed and young Trixie (Ariel Winter). And then there's some stuff about Rex (Matthew Fox) going off on his own and doing some kind of racing that Pops disapproves of, and the media seems to think Rex is doing something illegal, and then he ends up dying in a car crash.
In the present, Speed is a young man who has become one of the greatest racers on the scene, himself. (He drives Rex's old car, the Mach 5.) And he has a younger brother named Spritle who idolizes him much as Speed once idolized Rex, though Spritle's personal obsession seems to be candy rather than cars. And of course, he gets into mischief with his chimpanzee, Chim Chim. Anyway, many corporate sponsors want Speed to race for them, but he prefers to stick with his family, an independent company. However, Speed and his family, along with Trixie, all receive a slick sales pitch and promises and such from Mr. Royalton, owner of Royalton Industries. Speed is tempted, but ultimately declines Royalton's offer.
At which point, Royalton's nice-guy act vanishes, and he tells Speed that races have been fixed for years, and Speed has no chance of winning if he doesn't play along. Also, his family could be ruined. Meanwhile, there's a mysterious masked racer called Racer X (who at one point Speed suspects to be Rex), who is working with the C.I.B. (I didn't catch what that stands for, but it's some kind of law-enforcement agency, anyway) to investigate and bring down people like Royalton. Speed gets involved in this, along with another racer named Taejo Togokhan (and his sister, Horuko). Speed and Taejo both race in the Casa Cristo 5000, which I gather is not exactly a legitimate race, but somehow the winner will receive an invitation to compete in the Grand Prix, for which they had both failed to qualify, I guess, because of all the cheating that other drivers engage in, in other races. Of course, all races in this movie are quite dangerous, because of all the illegal modifications that are made to cars, which mostly seem to be used to try to kill other racers. Or whatever. Anyway, Speed will have to face off against plenty of cheating drivers, but the main one is Jack "Cannonball" Taylor, I think, who is sponsored by Royalton Industries.
Well, I'm going to avoid saying any more about the story, to avoid spoilers, but there are a number of twists and turns in the plot, which never makes a great deal of sense. Still, I thought it was a fun movie to watch. I did rather care about the Racer family and hate Royalton and um... there were lots of bright flashing colors and stuff. As hard as it was to follow the plot, and as little sense as it made, I found the gist of it to be interesting and engaging enough. And I liked the end, I guess. And I'm not sure what else to say....