I took time out to go and watch Speed Racer at the IMAX in Waterloo with my friend Taey. The film is an adaption of a Japanese anime franchise Mach GoGoGo known in the US as Speed Racer. This has been reimagined into a live-action film by The Wachowski Brothers, famous for The Matrix and the live-action adaption of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. The film is supposed be the brothers entree into family films though the two-and-a-half-hour length it isn’t exactly child-friendly.
The film is a riot of kaleidoscopic colour and kitsch like some disturbing Paul Frank advertisement; like acid-fuelled flashback memories of a childhood hyped up on processed sugars and artificial colours. It is full of fit-inducing flashing lights and enough psychedelics in the film to please the most experimental of hippies. The plot line is flimsy and some of the elements are changed from the original anime such as how Speed and his girlfriend first met. The accents of the characters sit in the middle of the Pacific ocean alternating between Australian and American which I found quite distracting.
There are some nice touches with great performances from k-pop star Rain, Chinese actress Yu Nan and a cameo from blaxploitation icon Richard Roundtree as a race commentator. The film is neither fish or fowl – too loosely held together to appeal to nostalgic adults and too long and boring to be of interest to their kids. Whilst I loved the visualisation I left the screen feeling tired, unengaged and underwhelmed.
When I watched Independence Day at the cinema I remember feeling as if I had just had a day out at Alton Towers from all the movement on screen filling my field of vision, causing me to involuntarily cling to my seat and counteract movement by holding on tight, I was surprised that Speed Racer didn’t give me that same sensation. Missed opportunity?