Adapting anime (and in this case Manga too) to live-action is a particularly challenging task. Reality is strictly confining, what with gravity and other limitations. While the page’s only limit is your imagination and your talent. In 2008, the cinematic duo, The Wachowskis, who made their name showing that the world the simulation, utilised computers and creativity to fight this challenge and bring fresh audiences into the dynamic world of Speed Racer.
Proving nominative determinism to be a valid theory, A young Speed Racer is proving his potential and lapping the competition. He wants to follow his brother, Rex, footsteps to become the best racer after Rex’s tragic demise cast looming shadows over his legacy. However, his success brings unwanted attention as Speed crosses path with a ruthless sponsor, Royalton whose unscrupulous methods allow him to cheat the races and make millions. When Speed rejects his offer, Royalton wants vengeance. Speed must now keep racing to the limit now that his life and the lives of his loved ones are on the line.
Bringing the previously drawn characters to life uses some quality acting. The talents of John Goodman and Susan Sarandon are welcome inclusions as Speed’s parents/pit team, along with Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci as Speed and Speed’s girlfriend, respectively. Roger Allam is phenomenally picked as the omnipotent Royalton, matching the energy needed to make this family-friendly villain. Comedy is also ample with Speed’s younger brother, played by Paulie Litt and a real-life monkey to round off this ensemble. Michael Giacchino gives the experience the triumphant flair both inside the racetrack and out.
The film is a dazzlingly delightful display, Both hyper colourful and hyperkinetic like each frame is doused in coffee and energy drinks. I have seen very few films like it. This of course makes sense for the world of racing and Speed Racer, and The Wachowskis captures the excitement of its source material while giving their flair by making it live-action. It feels like the riskier option, but The Wachowskis live up by bringing their technical prowess to the forefront in creating this world. Rich in exotic locales The Royalton industries office is a prime example of this, where the animation leads to some fantastical moments. The only limit is the imagination and feels like a cartoon that has come to life.
No doubt about it, The Wachowskis bring their own in another a computer-generated epic from the Makers of The Matrix, that can be enjoyed by practically anyone. A constant carnival of creativity from everybody involved, exciting and action-packed, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. Never compromising, even on the tiniest details, to make their vision a reality. With a lot on the line, Speed Racer out-laps and outpaces its competition.
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