10 May 2008 | The_Amazing_Spy_Rises
Pure popcorn fun for the whole family. Great job, Andy & Larry.
Well, what you've got here is a case of audience/critic disagreement. Obviously, this movie will get bashed by the critics because of its cartoonish and campy mood, but that's just it: the world shown on screen by the Wachowski brothers is marvelous. The animation is perfect for the atmosphere they're trying to create. Don't go in expecting Matrix-esquire effects, because there aren't any bullet time scenes. The effects used are so fitting for this movie because they're almost cartoonish and the movie doesn't take itself too seriously.
The film, an adaptation of the long running Japanese anime, revolves around natural racing phenomenon Speed (the wonderful Emile Hirsch) and his family, which somehow includes John Goodman and Susan Sarandon (whoever pulled off this casting deserves some kind of award). Oh yeah, and the casting directors managed to get Matthew Fox and Christina Ricci as well. What really stood out in this area is that everyone involved really understood the characters and the world that Speed Racer is supposed to display. It's not supposed to be overly serious, nor is it supposed to be that realistic either. With the warm performances of Hirsch, Goodman, and Ricci, you get transported into another world (isn't that the point of movies anyway?). Matthew Fox is also great as the mysterious Racer X, whose role is sort of misconstrued by the previews. He showed a different side that I didn't think he could on 'Lost'.
The visual effects, as I've said before, aren't going to be Matrix-esquire, but there are a few "whoa" factor sequences that had my jaw dropping. I also need to warn you that, if you can't take fast camera movements or rapid shots, be careful. It's not as bad as Cloverfield or Blair Witch (because the quickness only occurs in the race sequences), but I'd still try to grab a seat in the middle or back of the theater. The film is visually stunning outside of the races themselves as well. The buildings, the cities, the homes, the cars themselves...all beautiful.
The Wachowski brothers get an A+ for keeping the movie in the spirit of the show as much as they could (they really did a great job), however the film has a major flaw: a runtime of just under 2 and a half hours. That's a BIG no no for a movie that is obviously marketed towards kids, unless it has the names "Star Wars" or "Harry Potter" on it. The film also has a sensual scene or two featuring Ricci and Hirsch, not to mention occasional language.
My advice: don't listen to the critics, see this movie for the fact that it's pure entertainment for the audience, and it will take you away to a visually stunning world for a couple hours. Definitely an enjoyable movie for the entire family.