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Speed Racer (Widescreen Edition)
Speed Racer
Widescreen Edition
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon
Directors: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Genres: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family
PG     2008     2hr 15min

Start your engines and fasten your seatbelts for the high-octane adventure Speed Racer, combining heartfelt family humor and groundbreaking visual effects. Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is a natural behind the wheel of his th...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon
Directors: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Genres: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, 7-9 Years
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/16/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 15min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 21
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 8/2/2015...
Horrible! What a waste from such a great anime series.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Claire S. from LAKE WALES, FL
Reviewed on 4/8/2010...
This is a fun movie, no matter what your age. We've watched it twice already. Once on the small screen and once with company on the large screen (much preferred). We will watch it most likely with other guests/relatives who visit us.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Patrick B. (royale) from TERRE HAUTE, IN
Reviewed on 3/4/2010...
I thought this movie was amazing. The cinematography is actually flawless in the context of this film. How the exposition is handled is really ground-breaking. And, besides all that junk, it was a really good time! I believe the Wachowski's were really on their game for this one. The story is simple but it is well told. Those that are(or were) fans of the American version of the Speed Racer cartoon will, I believe, be pleasantly surprised at how they actually took many of the elements of the cartoon and put into the film. I also liked the choice for all the actors. Being a childhood fan of the cartoon, I wasn't sure how this would come off. I thoroughly enjoyed this flick and believe it can be enjoyed by young people and adults.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Judy M. from MELBOURNE, FL
Reviewed on 1/27/2010...
The movie surprised me because it was good. I thought it was a silly kids movie and it wasn't. Emile Hirsch and the other actors were very good.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Go Speed Racer Go!
Strategos | In Space above Planet Earth | 07/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Recently it seems like cartoon and comic books are about the only thing that gets made into blockbuster movies. While Transformers made the robots look like real living hulks of metal in the real world, and there's just no telling what the proposed Robotech movie will look like if it ever actually comes out, Speed Racer takes what is becoming the rather unpopular method of visual style. If you've seen Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow, you're familiar with it. Everything has a computer-adjusted color look to it, a super-crisp, super-sharp look reminiscent of the stop-motion films of yesteryear. And like those films that made the 80's so much fun for fantasy and sci-fi fans, Speed Racer features fantastic landscapes like nothing else on Earth (only now they are computer-generated instead of hand-painted).

The story of Speed Racer the movie actually exactly the same as the old cartoon show of the 1960's. Speed Racer (yeah, that's actually his name) is an aspiring race car driver looking to become the best and win races, with Pop's company supplying the car and mechanic, and his mom, little brother Spidle, girlfriend Trixie and family pet chimp for support. Corporate thugs notice and try to either destroy, bankrupt, or otherwise make trouble for Racer Motors, and Speed teams up with Racer X (who may or may not be his presumed dead brother Rex), Inspector Detector, and a few friends he meets along the way, to bring down the bad guys and save the day. Yeah, nothing too complex story-wise, but hey, that's why you loved the cartoon show, right?

Everything a Cartoon Should Be

When I first heard there was going to be a Speed Racer movie by the makers of the Matrix, I was worried. Animated features and video games don't really have a good history as feature films. But after seeing Speed Racer in the theater five times, I have to admit, they got it pretty much perfect. The trick with making a cartoon movie live action, and intentionally making it look cartoony, is that you have to push everything into a consistent cartoon universe and have it make sense in it's context. In other words, you have to make things exaggerated, but not the point of total impossibility in the world you have created. You see in the Speed Racer world, cars have insane power, traction, control, and speed. So when you see the Mach 5 speeding around corners in insane power-slides, yeah it looks like a cartoon, but you accept it as actually happening in that cartoon. It never looks out of place. When the engine roars and cars explode into flames it isn't silly, it's movie magic of the best kind, like when Luke's X-Wing lands that shot into the Death Star in Star Wars.

It's hard to describe without actually seeing it for yourself, but the cartoon universe of Speed Racer really is created wonderfully in this film. Everything from the sky to the furniture has an over-exposed super-vivid quality to it, like a technicolor gone mad. There is CGI backgrounds galore, but they jive perfectly with that universe as well, because everyone is wearing super-bright colors as well, and everything is always in razor sharp focus. Actually, this may be the movie to make me upgrade to a Blue Ray player, because it has to be the ultimate benchmark for color, contrast, and sharpness for a long time to come.

The world of Speed Racer is amazing enough, but the way that the film is acted, shot, directed, and scored musically is what combines to make it a 10 out of 10. For starters, everyone is just so INTO their roles. Susan Sarandon as Mom and John Goodman as Pop Racer are both absolutely perfect, managing to become those stereotypical cartoon characatures and at the same never come across as cheesy, over-the-top or unrealistic. Again, in the context of the film, they are part of the Universe. Pop talks to Speed like he really is his son, mom gives a heart-warming speech about how proud she is of Speed that really gets to you if you know what it's like to love your family. Never does anyone betray even slightly that they think their names are ridiculous or that they are saying silly lines. EVERYONE gives their lines like they are absolutely real. And if you're making a Star Wars or a Speed Racer, that makes the movie in the end. Everyone was great. From the mechanic and the little brother (a lot less anoying than the Spridle of the cartoon) to the absolutely gorgeous and incredibly cute-looking Trixie played to perfection by Christina Ricci (where the heck has she been and why now of all times did she decide to play a sweet, loveable babe instead of all those crazy weird gothic-horror type roles?), you gotta love them all. I especially was overjoyed by how well Racer X was portrayed with icy stoicism. Just wonderful.

The near constant use of deep focus photography and other camera techniques, combined with tons of digital screen wipes and other minor tricks, results in an incredibly slick presentation that cascades past the screen like panels of a comic book in glorious living color. The comedy and dramatic buttons are always pushed to great effect, all while keeping things from getting too far from the light-hearted entertainment that Speed Racer should be. And when the orchestral remix of the Speed Racer theme kicks in, it's just magic.

You really can't expect much more from this movie than it already is. It's true to the spirit of Speed Racer, the characters are all acted perfectly, the story is classic, there are tons of great moments and Speed Racer tributes (like Speed's wearing his trademark blue shirt and red handkerchief and his classic pose when he jumps from the Mach 5, or the sound effect made every time the Mach 5's jump jacks are used). Speed Racer may not be perfect. The villains feel more Hanna Barbara than Speed Racer, the sprinkling of swear-words (and Spridle giving someone the finger?) really don't jive in the kid-friendly Speed Racer universe, and the visual style of this film is definitely not for everyone. But...

If you're like me and love comic books, video games, and anime, if you like to watch old shows just as much as new ones, if crazy CGI and a movie shot entirely with blue-screens makes you smile, and the Speed Racer theme kicking in full-blast just as Speed makes a triumphant comeback makes you cheer... this is the movie for you!
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 05/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

""When I watch you do some of the things you do," says Susan Sarandon in the Wachowski Brothers' "Speed Racer," "you take my breath away." This line pretty much sums up how I felt about the movie. "Speed Racer" is an absolute visual masterpiece, retooling the look of anime into an exciting, hyper-realized world of vibrant creativity. Every shot is like a cartoon brought to life, the neutral shades of the real world replaced with bold shades of red, blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange. It doesn't present us with a vision of the future so much as it presents an alternate reality, where racing tracks and cars defy gravity. Here's a film you have to see more than once for the imagery alone, because chances are you'll miss more than a few details along the way--every square inch of the screen is packed with visual delights almost all throughout. It isn't often you come across a movie this stunning, this lively, and this fun.

Based on the 1960s cartoon series created by Tatsuo Yoshida, "Speed Racer" puts it foot on the gas as soon as the Warner Bros. logo appears, interweaving the title character's back story with a heart-pounding race. Even as a young boy, Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) has known nothing other than automobile racing; now as a professional racer himself, Speed is haunted by the death of his big brother, Rex (Scott Porter), a racing superstar who crashed eight years ago on a cross-country rally. The public believed that corporate sponsorship changed Rex into a money-grubbing backstabber, forcing him to turn his back on racing altogether. Naturally, Speed and his family are now completely against sponsorships of any kind, especially his father, appropriately named Pops (John Goodman). For this family, it's about racing, not money.

Here enters Royalton (Roger Allam), a slick corporate mogul who tempts Speed with the fame and fortune associated with being sponsored. In essence, Royalton wants Speed to sell his soul, much like Rex sold his. Despite an impressive city suite and the top-of-the-line cars manufactured in a highly efficient factory, Speed refuses to make a deal. Royalton angrily lets him in on a little secret: Car races are always fixed because, contrary to what Speed was raised to believe, making money is what racing is all about. With the help of his girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), and a mysterious masked man known only as Racer X (Matthew Fox), Speed infiltrates a number of races in an attempt to destroy Royalton's reputation as well as the need for corporate sponsorship. This won't be so easy, though; numerous factions are in cahoots with one another, all of which connect with Royalton to some degree.

If this sounds absolutely ridiculous, keep in mind that plot is not what "Speed Racer" depends on. This movie thrives on imaginative digital effects and spectacular racing sequences, all of which rely on lightening-quick edits and creative camera tricks for maximum entertainment. In this completely fantasy world, racecourses look like oversized Hot Wheels tracks, with sharp inclined curves, completely vertical drops, gaps to jump, and a variety of loops. Speed and his beloved car--the Mach 5--navigate these roller coaster-like twists and turns with ease and accuracy, as one would expect from a cartoon adaptation. Cityscapes are colossal, brightly colored, and sterile, looking much like the Worlds of Tomorrow depicted in science fiction pulp magazines. The sunny sky is a deep, rich shade of light blue, and it's accented with puffball clouds that are pure white. On DVD, one could easily pause a frame of this film and stare at it for hours while absorbing every single detail.

Just as impressive are the side characters, all of which add a little something to the story. Speed's youngest brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt), is a loveable scamp who often stows away in the trunk of the Mach 5. Always at his side is Chim Chim, his beloved pet chimp; together, they act as the film's comedy relief. Speed's mother (Susan Sarandon) is a caring woman who can weld car parts after making a mean stack of pancakes. The family mechanic, Sparky (Kick Gurry), absolutely shines during a wonderfully cartoonish martial arts sequence, one that makes you laugh just as much as it makes you cheer.

In a nutshell, "Speed Racer" has set a new standard for digital filmmaking, a standard previously set by brilliant films such as "Sin City" and "300." It's sure to snag Oscar nominations for visual effects, costumes, and cinematography, as well it should; watching this movie is an exhilarating experience, a perfect mixture of hard-driving action, childish whimsy, and visual creativity. The abundant imagery acts as a counterpart to Michael Giacchino's score, a cheerful opus that adapts the original theme song "Go Speed Racer Go." But all this wouldn't have worked without the actors, all of which were perfectly cast. Hirsch makes the title character both determined and vulnerable. Ricci gives Trixie a wide-eyed innocence that I absolutely loved. Allam is deliciously evil as Royalton, a sniveling, conniving villain you just love to hate. Sarandon and Goodman are convincingly down-to-earth as the parents of a racecar driver. And I have to give a lot of credit to young Paulie Litt, who not only delivered some of the film's best lines, but also played his part in the spirit of good fun. "Speed Racer" was all in good fun, definitely one of the year's most entertaining films."
Unique to say the least
G.V. | Mexico City, Mexico | 07/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can understand why some people might dislike this movie (just look at its box-office) but the one undeniable fact is that it perfectly captures the spirit of the TV show which was never really associated with profound human feelings. It's amazing how everyone involved in it simply decided to give it their all. Just look at the conviction with which Susan Sarandon and John Goodman recited lines that clearly feel out of a cartoon. Usually I hate movies with quick cuts and gratuitous CG effects and SPEED RACER is 135 minutes of quick cuts and CG so I guess nostalgia goes a long way. I was so glad they included the sound effect of the Mach 5 jumping over and over again. My only real complaint about the movie is that there was a little bit too much of the chimp for my taste.
I can't blame anyone for complaining on leaving the theater with a headache. The world outside the theater I saw SPEED RACER in looked so slow once the movie ended, this is one exhausting film but certainly worth it.