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Favorite Summer movie so far...

So far this summer I've seen both Indiana Jones and Iron Man. I enjoyed both films for what they were, but they were nowhere near the passion and emotional punch I got from... SPEED RACER.

I was actually looking forward to this movie long before any reviews came in. I never seen the show, was never a fan, but I was interested in the aesthetic because it reminded me of MarioKart brought to the big screen, and it reminded me of the poppy futuristic color palette I saw in Tokyo. It looked new and different. I'd be down to support something like that.

Then the reviews came in. 36% in rotten tomatoes! It seemed a unanimous agreement: if you see this movie, you'll walk out with bleeding eyeballs. Zero out of four stars. Go Speed Racer go, as far, far away as possible! *GAG*

Okay, so I wasn't going to watch it. Then, Kazu was kind of interested in seeing it, and Phil. Kazu mentioned Brian Lee O'Maley really digging it. Still, he had to drag me kicking and screaming to see this fireworks display.

So I watched it. And LOVED it! This movie is, in all seriousness, a true work of art. I saw it for a second time just last night, and I'm making plans to see it a third time this Tuesday with Chris, Shadi, Reagan, and Annie. What started as a pleasant surprise, has transformed into a mild obsession. I haven't seen a movie where it felt like the filmmakers were trying to truly express something very personal to them in years. What a breath of fresh air this film was for me!

In a nutshell, the story is about the corrupting power of money, the struggle to remain pure to your art, and that the people who believe in you will always be there in your heart, especially when it matters most. It is, in my opinion, the best film in theaters right now, and deplorably underrated.

One of the best things about this movie is the character relationships (something that, for some reason, isn't touched in the trailers). There is a huge theme of the power of brotherhood, something the Wachowski brothers must know a thing or two about, and the love of family. It is genuinely expressed, without cynicism or doubt of their emotional truth. The clip below is short, but right after it is an amazing sequence that clearly defines all the characters, their backstories, how they relate to one another, and how a family tragedy binds them together in a struggle to overcome the fears that have resulted from it. The best part? It all comes together in the end to deliver a great emotional punch. The storytelling in Speed Racer is complex, layered, remarkably easy to understand, and deceptively cartoonish in its delivery.

It is the movie's cartoonishness that seems to be blocking viewers and critics alike from accepting it. The colors pop like a video game, the characters wear their hearts on their sleeves like they do in most anime, and the action reflects the character's emotions while the announcers describe to us what they just saw, just like in an anime. It is a live action cartoon. But just like in cartoons and comics, the movie is able to deliver on some really complex ideas with exagerrated, simplistic characters.

My advice... if you're an artist or believe in the transformative power of art (replace the word "racing" with the word "art") don't believe the critics. See it in theaters while it's still on the big screen, go in with an open mind. It'll take a leap of the imagination to get there, but once you do, you won't want to leave. And as cartoonists, isn't that all we ask of all our readers, as well?

Script written and directed by the Wachowski brothers (of Matrix fame). Excellent soundtrack by Michael Giacchino (of Ratatouille/Incredibles fame).

First seven minutes:

Music video (just look at those actor's juicy facial expressions! They're so into it!):


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2008 07:29 am (UTC)
I'm waiting for my first visual/auditory experiences to be on a big screen!!
May. 25th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
I can't wait! :D
May. 25th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC)
Ok I was curious about it and thought...well maybe there was no story but it should be fab to look at. Now I will see it.
May. 25th, 2008 09:04 am (UTC)
oh cool i like the kid drawing animation heheh...
May. 25th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
hehe man... when they bring that part back later on it makes me all teary eyed! I'm glad you'll check it out, the clips really don't do it justice.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 9th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
yes I had him as a teacher at SVA.
May. 25th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
May. 25th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
HIGH FIVE!! This movie has hypnotized me. O_o
May. 25th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
You're the second person I know who has been this positive about the movie. I was curious to see how the Wachowski bros. adapted an anime, but the blistering reviews put me off. I really will have to see it now... before it disappears from theaters.
May. 27th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
You'll like it! Especially because you understand manga and anime storytelling styles, it's an easier gap to jump if you do.

There's actually a growing number of positiveness for this movie, just not from the critics. If you do a google blog search, you can find some. :D

May. 26th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
We are a small, brave band.
May. 27th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Hopefully the buzz on the blogosphere will help Speed pick up some last minute steam before it fizzles out of theaters. :P
May. 26th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
It's been interesting reading the range of reactions from this movie.

I enjoyed it a lot and didn't think it deserved to bomb nearly as hard as it did. But the weakest part for me still was in the storytelling. Not so much in the structuring like most critics mentioned, but it's the same problem they had with the Matrix sequels. The Wachowski's can't seem to get away from those looong drawn out dialougue scenes that really hit you over the head with their messages. They're so eager to spell out everything they never give the audience a chance to make decisions of their own. I think all the material was there but could've been made more concise and about 20-less minutes leaner.

That said, the design was extraordinary and so much more thought out than you could guess from the trailers. The music, the casting, the action choreography, the homages, everything technical about the movie was otherwise perfect. I'm a BIG FAN the old cartoon so it was definitely at the top most-anticipated summer movies and I'm tickled by how faithful they were to the source material. I'm a little disappointed, but it was worth seeing on the big screen!
May. 26th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
I didn't know you were a fan of the Speed Racer show! :P I still haven't seen any of it, and was wondering which parts exactly were nods to the show.

I agree about the long dialogue. I've seen the movie three times now, and it's difficult to say whether it would improve with some extra editting. The dialogue scenes are long, but to cut them out would take away a layer of emotion that helps in the climactic scene. I think the storytelling is the best part of the movie, and I love hearing characters say things that they mean, so the dialogue didn't bother me. But I can see how it would bother others. Kids in the theater got a little antsy during those scenes.

Kazu wrote a good break down on his feelings about the storytelling on his blog, relating it to anime. He's been watching One Piece lately, so I think his brain was more prepared to watch this movie than mine, even! :P
May. 27th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
Andrew and I just got back from this a few hours ago and loved it. Really loved it. Great movie, and all of your observations are spot-on.

- Christopher!
May. 27th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
I'm so glad! Since you're a blogger, you might be interested in reading this review of the critics' reviews that I stumbled upon. It's really well written!

May. 27th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
I have now seen Iron Man, Indy and Speed Racer, and Speed is my favorite. I have seen it twice already, and though I would have seen either of the others again if I had the opportunity to, I'm just (or more) likely to go see Speed for a third time. I just loved it. And I agree with everything you said about it.

I was a huge fan of the original, so that might be part of it for me. Scott, on the other hand, who was also a fan of the original, did not love the movie.

The best movie out this month though, in my opinion is Son of Rambow, and if you haven't seen it you really should it is quite wonderful. Speed and Rambow are tied for my favorite movies of the season so far.
May. 28th, 2008 10:05 am (UTC)
Son of Rambow, haven't even heard of it! I'll have to check it out if you liked it as much as Speed.

I'm so glad you liked the film, too! :)
May. 29th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
I loved it. My mom loved it (!). I'm dragging friends to see it with me this weekend and they'll love it, too, if I have anything to say about it!
Jun. 21st, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
oo in the music video, which languages do they sing/rap in? i can only hear English, Japanese and Spanish (?!)-curious-
Jun. 22nd, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, same here. Wish I knew too! :P I think I heard some French in there but maybe it was my imagination...
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )