Speed Racer – A Movie Review

I should probably reveal this from the get-go: I never watched the old Speed Racer cartoon.  I knew just the most minimal of facts-Speed’s name, Racer X, the little boy and the monkey-and that was about it.

That being said, even while knowing really nothing about the cartoon, I actually enjoyed the Wachowski Brothers’ Speed Racer

Visually, it was mesmerizing.  What the Wachowskis started with the awful CGI Smith Brawl in the Matrix Reloaded was perfected in Speed Racer, which is the blending of CGI and reality.  This make-believe world of Speed Racer is bright, fast, and a surrealistic copulation of science fiction and real-life technology.  The cars were fun, the costumes a blast, and the race tracks were something the most deranged of video-game developers couldn’t have created.  I honestly believe I could have turned the volume off and been just as enthralled by this visual feast.

The story itself was nothing new.  I have no idea how much was gleaned from the cartoon, but struggles against the evil, corporate megalomaniac is not exactly breaking new ground, nor is detailing a younger brother’s unresolved issues with his older brother.  Even so, I wasn’t expecting much of a story from a movie based on an old cartoon and found myself surprisingly touched by some true moments full of soul and warmth.  These sensitive scenes were courtesy of a very talented cast including Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, and Matthew Fox.

I’ve heard some say this movie was too juvenile, too geared towards youngsters.  Well, remembering the fact it’s-once again-based on a cartoon, there were moments of levity thanks to a very funny young actor named Paulie Litt and the monkey-character Chim Chim.  However, there were also heavy themes in parts, some slight profanity, and lots of car crashes, gunfire, and fist fights.  There were even some scantily-clad women that I’m not sure I’d want my little one watching.  Consequently, Speed Racer is rated PG.

All in all-I thought this was an innovative movie that probably should have garnered more attention while it was in the theatres.  If you’re into amazing special effects with a tolerable story and can keep in mind this is a movie based on a cartoon, I recommend Speed Racer with a clear conscience.

V for Vendetta – A Movie Review

I think Alan Moore’s creation, V for Vendetta, is a masterful work, so I had very high hopes for the film version of the comic series.

I did not go disappointed.

I realize V for Vendetta has gotten mixed reviews, but I thought it was very well done.  Because the Wachowski Brothers were involved I expected the excess of the last few Matrix movies, but they restrained themselves quite appropriately.  V for Vendetta was rather understated, in my opinion, and I felt it was nearly accurate with its source material.  Sure, some changes had to be made because it is a mainstream movie and because it came out two decades after the comic, but the soul of it remained true enough.

Natalie Portman did a surprisingly good job and Hugo Weaving deserves some sort of an award for his portrayal of V.  I don’t know many actors who can convey emotion without their face ever being seen, but Weaving pulled it off wonderfully through subtle body language and voice inflection. 

The action was superb, the sets believable, the dialogue fairly crisp with some awkward moments, and the editing was well done. 

Alan Moore, V’s creator, is notorious for his disdain for movie versions of his work (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell), so much so that you won’t see his name attached to the film anywhere and he gives all his proceeds to the artists of his work, but I truly hope he was moderately satisfied with this movie. 

The only problem I had with the film was that its message of rebellion was slightly water-downed compared to the original, and probably with good reason, but I think most people who stop to think about what they’re watching will realize the existing parallels to today’s political and social climate.  However, I believe most people who are even minutely conservative will find plenty of controversial moments in V for Vendetta.