Speed Racer (film)


Speed Racer (film)

Infobox Film
name = Speed Racer


caption = Film poster
director = Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski

producer = Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski
Joel Silver
writer = Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski
starring = Emile Hirsch
Christina Ricci
John Goodman
Susan Sarandon
Kick Gurry
Roger Allam
Matthew Fox
music = Michael Giacchino
cinematography = David Tattersall
editing = Roger Barton
Zach Staenberg
distributor = Warner Bros.
released = May 9, 2008
runtime = 135 min.
country = USA GER
language = English
budget = $120,000,000 [cite web | url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=speedracer.htm | title=Speed Racer box office | publisher=Box Office Mojo | accessdate=2008-05-14]
gross = $89,180,964
website = http://speedracerthemovie.warnerbros.com/
amg_id = 1:379019
imdb_id = 0811080

"Speed Racer" is a 2008 live action film adaptation of the 1960s Japanese anime series of the same name. The film is written and directed by the Wachowski brothers, directors of The Matrix trilogy who also serve as co-producers. The film had been in development since 1992, changing writers and directors until producer Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers collaborated to begin production on "Speed Racer" as a family film.

Actor Emile Hirsch was cast as Speed, the hero of the animated series, and Christina Ricci portrays Speed's girlfriend, Trixie. "Speed Racer" was shot between early June and late August 2007 in Potsdam and Berlin, Germany at an estimated budget of $120,000,000. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0811080/business Box office / business for Speed Racer] , retrieved May 8, 2008] "Speed Racer" premiered on May 3 2008 as the closing film at the Tribeca Film Festival, [cite news | url=http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=festivals&jump=story&id=1061&articleid=VR1117983334&cs=1 | title='Speed Racer' to close Tribeca | author=Winter Miller | publisher=Variety | date=2008-04-03 | accessdate=2008-04-03 ] and was released on May 9, 2008.

ynopsis

Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is an 18-year-old whose life and love has always been racing. Racing is "in his blood": his parents, Pops (John Goodman) and Mom (Susan Sarandon), run an independent business building race cars; and his older brother, record-setting racer Rex Racer (Scott Porter), was killed in Speed's childhood in the running of the Casa Cristo, an incredibly intense cross-country racing rally notorious for rough and foul play. Before his death, Rex was rejected by his father for his choice to run the Casa Cristo, and publicly defamed for appearing to cheat underhandedly in a race. Now, Speed Racer is quickly sweeping the racing world with his artistic skill, driving the Mach 5 (and later the Mach 6) of his father's design, but remains interested only in the art of the race and the well-being of his family.

When Mr. Royalton (Roger Allam), owner of conglomerate Royalton Industries, offers Speed an astoundingly luxurious lifestyle in exchange for signing to race with him, Speed is tempted but declines, knowing that his father would never wish Speed to sign with the very power-hungry corporations he so mistrusts. When Speed refuses Mr. Royalton's offer, Royalton reveals that top corporate interests, including Royalton himself, are fixing the races to gain profit, and then threatens Speed's career success and very life when he still does not agree to sign on. When Royalton later proves ready to make good on his threats, Speed teams up with his girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci), his one-time rival, Racer X (Matthew Fox), and shifty racer Taejo Togokhan (Rain) to enter the Casa Cristo 5000 – known as "The Crucible" – in part of a plot to uncover the treacheries of Royalton and save the Racer business.

Speed begins to suspect that Racer X is actually his brother Rex in disguise, after they drive together and work naturally as a team. Despite his father's initial anger at his racing in the Crucible, Speed's family eventually joins up as well, as Speed overcomes Royalton's brutal team and many seemingly insurmountable obstacles to win the Casa Cristo 5000.cite news | author= | url=http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?id=41811 | title="Speed Racer" Details Released | publisher=Sci Fi Wire | date=2007-06-05 | accessdate=2007-06-06 ] It is, unfortunately, a sham victory, as it's revealed that Taejo's purpose was simply to make himself - and, by association, his father's racing company - look better, so the stock price would rise, and a proposed Royalton-arranged company buyout would be more expensive.

An angry Speed hits the old track his brother Rex used to take him as a boy, and the arrival of Racer X leads Speed to confront X, demanding to know the truth as to whether or not he is Rex. Racer X removes his mask, revealing an unfamiliar face, and tells Speed that his brother Rex truly is dead. Speed returns home, and Taejo's sister Horuko (Yu Nan) arrives, giving Speed Taejo's automatic invitation to the Grand Prix, as she felt bad for what her brother had done, noting that Taejo had declined to accept anyway. After 32 hours of family effort, the Mach 6 is rebuilt (having been destroyed in the race following Speed's refusal to sign with Royalton), and Speed hits the Grand Prix for the greatest race of his life, with a bounty on his head from the other drivers, and pitted against legendary Hall of Fame driver Cannonball Taylor.

Speed's battle in the race succeeds in exposing Royalton, and returning racing to its true purpose. Furthermore, it is revealed to the audience at the movie's end that Rex did not die (and also did not cheat), but instead underwent plastic surgery to re-emerge as Racer X, helping his younger brother finally save his family and his sport. He chose not to reveal his identity to his family, presumably for their protection. In the end of the movie, Rex is heard saying that even if he made a mistake hiding from his family it would be a mistake he had to live with, as he felt that it would do more damage to return to them rather than continue to live in hiding. As the cameras flash, Speed scoops Trixie up and kisses her, as he had promised to do at inspiration point, and Spritle starts getting overly excited; swinging the trophy from side to side while shouting. The "Magazine Montage" at the end confirms that Royalton's perversities were finally disclosed to the public and that he is sentenced to jail for life, and it also states that "Cheaters Never Prosper".

Cast

* Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer. Actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zac Efron, and Shia LaBeouf were previously considered for the role.cite news | author=Ben Lyons | url=http://www.eonline.com/movies/lyonsden/detail/index.jsp?uuid=d30a0ecf-30fa-47fc-bd93-442e2b65b0df | title=Extreme Sneak Peek: "Speed Racer" Is Cast, Gassed Up and Ready to Go Go Go! | publisher=E! | date=2007-05-11 | accessdate=2007-05-12 ] To prepare for the role, Hirsch watched every "Speed Racer" episode and visited Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he met with driver Jimmie Johnson. [cite news | author=Filip Vukcevic | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/820/820481p1.html | title=Exclusive: Hirsch Talks Speed Racer | publisher=IGN | date=2007-09-17 | accessdate=2007-09-17 ]
* Nicholas Elia as young Speed Racer.
* Christina Ricci as Trixie, Speed's girlfriend. Ricci was chosen over Elisha Cuthbert and Kate Mara.
* Ariel Winter as young Trixie.
* John Goodman as Pops Racer, Speed's father.cite web | url=http://speedracerthemovie.warnerbros.com/cmp/bios_nav.html | title=Speed Racer - Bios | publisher=Warner Bros. | accessdate=2007-06-08 ]
* Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer, Speed's mother.
* Scott Porter as Rex Racer, Speed's older brother.cite news | author=Stacy Dodd | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117966200.html?categoryid=28&cs=1 | title=Scott Porter | publisher=Variety | date=2007-06-03 | accessdate=2007-06-04 ]
* Paulie Litt as Spritle Racer, Speed's younger brother.
* Kick Gurry as Sparky, Speed's mechanic and best friend.
* A chimpanzee as Chim Chim, Spritle's pet. Two chimpanzees were used to portray Chim Chim: Kenzie and Willy.
* Matthew Fox as Racer X. Keanu Reeves turned down the role. [cite news | author = Shawn Adler | title = Keanu Reeves Says He Turned Down ‘Watchmen' And ‘Speed Racer' Roles | publisher = MTV | date = 2008-03-31 | url = http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2008/03/31/keanu-reeves-says-he-turned-down-watchmen-and-speed-racer-roles/ | accessdate=2008-08-31]
* Nayo Wallace as Minx, a scientist and Racer X's girlfriend. [cite news | author=Stacy Dodd | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117968366.html?categoryId=28&cs=1 | title=Nayo Wallace | publisher=Variety | date=2007-07-11 | accessdate=2007-07-13 ]
* Benno Fürmann as Inspector Detector, a C.I.B agent.
* Rain as Taejo Togokahn, a rookie racer. Rain made his first appearance in a Hollywood film with "Speed Racer". [cite news | author= | url=http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2007/05/139_3030.html | title=Rain to star in Hollywood film | publisher=Korea Times | date=2007-05-16 | accessdate=2007-05-17 ]
* Yu Nan as Horuko Togokahn, Taejo Togokhan's sister. [cite news | author= | url=http://english.eastday.com/eastday/englishedition/features/userobject1ai2939449.html | title=Tuya' actress to join Hollywood action film | publisher=East Day | date=2007-06-28 | accessdate=2007-07-07 ]
* Roger Allam as E.P. Arnold Royalton, the corrupt owner of "Royalton Industries".
* Hiroyuki Sanada as Mr. Musha, a president of "Musha Motors".
* John Benfield as Cruncher Block, a gang leader.

* Ralph Herforth as Jack 'Cannonball' Taylor, a superstar racer sponsored by "Royalton Industries".
* Christian Oliver as Snake Oiler, a leading racer of "Hydra-Cell" team. [cite news | author=Stacy Dodd | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117968204.html?categoryid=28&cs=1 | title=Christian Oliver | publisher=Variety | date=2007-07-08 | accessdate=2007-07-09 ]
* Jana Pallaske as Delila, a leading racer of "Flying Foxes" team.
* Werner Daehn as Colonel Colon, a leading racer of "Sempre Fi-Ber" team.
* Moritz Bleibtreu as Grey Ghost, a racer.
* Milka Duno as Gearbox, a racer. [cite news | url=http://www.milkaduno.com/news/070809.html | title=INDYCAR'S MILKA DUNO HEADS TO BERLIN FOR ROLE IN WARNER BROS.' "SPEED RACER" MOVIE | publisher=MilkaDuno.com | date=2007-08-09 | accessdate=2007-08-10 ]
* Joe Mazza as Nitro Venderhoss, a racer.

* Richard Roundtree as Ben Burns, a race commentator who was formerly a racer. [cite news | author=Borys Kit | url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3id58165d7da6bd72a840085b7b477a988 | title=Roundtree is fast friend of 'Speed' | publisher=The Hollywood Reporter | date=2007-07-02 | accessdate=2007-07-02 ]
* Melvil Poupaud as Johnny 'Goodboy' Jones, a race commentator. [cite news | author=Edward Douglas | url=http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=21140 | title= Melvil Poupaud on His "Speed Racer" Role | publisher=ComingSoon.net | date=2007-06-19 | accessdate=2007-06-20 ]
* Peter Fernandez as a race commentator. (Cameo, original voice of Speed)

Project history

In September 1992, Warner Bros. announced that it held the option to create a live action film adaptation of "Speed Racer", in development at Silver Pictures. [cite news | author=BPI Communications | url= | title='Speed Racer' to become a film | publisher=Chicago Tribune | date=1992-09-03 | accessdate=2007-01-12 ] In October 1994, singer Henry Rollins was offered the role of Racer X in the film. [cite news | author=Matthew Gilbert | url= | title=Workman's got the beats | publisher=The Boston Globe | date=1994-10-09 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] In June 1995, actor Johnny Depp was cast into the lead role for "Speed Racer", with production slated to begin the coming October, [cite news | author= | url= | title=Pacino, Depp To Star in Film On FBI Agent | publisher=Chicago Sun-Times | date=1995-06-20 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] with filming to take place in California and Arizona. [cite news | author=Jane Sumner | url= | title=Old commish now the new commish | publisher=The Dallas Morning News | date=1995-07-28 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] The following August, Depp requested time off to the studio for personal business, delaying production. [cite news | author=W. Speers | url= | title=R.E.M. is far from sweet on Hershey - it's suing | publisher=The Philadelphia Inquirer | date=1995-08-23 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] However, due to a high budget,cite news | author=Michael Fleming | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117906949.html?categoryid=1236&cs=1&query=speed+and+racer&display=speed+racer | title=WB 'Racer' is back on right track | publisher=Variety | date=2004-06-23 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] the same August, director Julien Temple, who was attached to direct "Speed Racer", left the project. Depp, without a director, also departed from the project. The studio considered director Gus Van Sant as a replacement for Temple, [cite news | author= | url= | title=Column: NEWS AND NOTES | publisher=The Record | date=1995-08-28 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] though it would not grant writing privileges to Van Sant. [cite news | author=Wesley Morris | url= | title=The Minimalist | publisher=The Boston Globe | date=2005-07-31 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] In December 1997, the studio briefly hired director Alfonso Cuarón for "Speed Racer". [cite news | author=Renee Graham | url= | title=Stipe gets in on the producing act | publisher=The Boston Globe | date=1997-12-28 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] In the various incarnations of the project, screenwriters Marc Levin, Jennifer Flackett, J. J. Abrams, and Patrick Read Johnson had been hired to write scripts.cite news | author=Charles Lyons | coauthors=Dana Harris | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117854467.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 | title=Warners hooked on 'Speed' | publisher=Variety | date=2001-10-17 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ]

In September 2000, Warner Bros. and producer Lauren Shuler Donner hired writer-director Hype Williams to take the helm of "Speed Racer".cite news | author=Michael Fleming | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117786594.html?categoryid=-1&cs=1 | title=Hudlin to service 'Sarah' | publisher=Variety | date=2000-09-19 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] In October 2001, the studio hired screenwriters Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring for $1.2 million split between them to write a script for the film. Eventually, without production going under way, the director and the writers left the project. In June 2004, actor Vince Vaughn spearheaded a revival of the project by presenting a take for the film that would develop the characters more strongly. Vaughn was cast as Racer X and was also attached to the project as an executive producer. With production never becoming active, Vaughn was eventually detached from the project.cite news | author=Borys Kit | url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3id1c3d218198539cbbe3da77ba227ce79 | title=Goodman, Sarandon on 'Speed' | publisher=The Hollywood Reporter | date=2007-04-02 | accessdate=2007-04-02 ]

Production

In October 2006, directors Larry and Andy Wachowski were brought on board by the studio to write and direct "Speed Racer". Producer Joel Silver, who had collaborated with the Wachowski brothers for "V for Vendetta" and "The Matrix" Trilogy, explained that the brothers were hoping to reach a broader audience with a film that would not be rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America. Visual effects designer John Gaeta, who won an Academy Award for Visual Effects for the Wachowski brothers' "The Matrix", was brought in to help conceive making "Speed Racer" into a live-action adaptation. Production was set to begin in summer 2007 in European locations for a summer 2008 release. [cite news | author=Michael Fleming | coauthors=Pamela McClintock | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117953047.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 | title=Sibs built for 'Speed' | publisher=Variety | date=2006-10-31 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] In November 2006, the release date for "Speed Racer" was set for May 23 2008. [cite news | url=http://comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=17592 | title=2008 is Slowly Filling Up | publisher=ComingSoon.net | date=2006-11-17 | accessdate=2007-01-11 ] Producer Joel Silver described "Speed Racer" as a family film in line with the Wachowski brothers' goal to reach a wider audience.cite news | author=Eric Moro | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/770/770124p1.html | title=WonderCon 07: "Wonder Woman", "Speed Racer" Status | publisher=IGN | date=2007-03-03 | accessdate=2007-03-04 ]

In February 2007, the Wachowski brothers selected Babelsberg Studios in Germany to film "Speed Racer". [cite news | author=Scott Roxborough | url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3if37c02bf3d9ac5319c19eb7f012063bb | title=Babelsberg feels need for 'Speed' | publisher=The Hollywood Reporter | date=2007-02-14 | accessdate=2007-02-14 ] In the following March, Warner Bros. moved the release date of "Speed Racer" two weeks earlier to May 9 2008. [cite news | author=Dave McNary | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117960920.html?categoryid=2479&cs=1 | title=WB speeds up 'Racer' | publisher=Variety | date=2007-03-11 | accessdate=2007-03-21 ] The studio received a grant of $12.3 million from Germany's new Federal Film Fund, the largest yet from the organization, for production of "Speed Racer" in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. [cite news | author=Ed Metzger | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117963955.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 | title=New film funds gets up to 'Speed' | publisher=Variety | date=2007-04-29 | accessdate=2007-04-29 ] The amount was later increased to $13 million. [cite news | author=Christian Koehl | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117977711.html?categoryId=2523&cs=1 | title=Germans to H'w'd: Look past Berlin | publisher=Variety | date=2007-12-14 | accessdate=2007-12-24 ] Filming commenced on June 5 2007 in Berlin, and was shot entirely against greenscreen, [cite news | author = Olly Richards | title = Emile Hirsch Talks Speed Racer | publisher = Empire | date = 2007-11-22 | url = http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=21537 | accessdate=2007-11-22] lasting 60 days.cite news | author=Josh Horowitz | url=http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1572602/story.jhtml | title=Emile Hirsch Talks About Singing Karaoke With Lindsay Lohan, Heading 'Into The Wild' With Sean Penn | publisher=MTV | date=2007-10-24 | accessdate=2007-12-24 ] The Wachowski brothers filmed in high-definition video for the first time. [cite news | author=Rebecca Murray | url=http://movies.about.com/od/thereaping/a/silver040107.htm | title=Producer Joel Silver Talks "Speed Racer" and "Whiteout" | publisher=About.com | date=2007-04-03 | accessdate=2007-04-13 ] With the camera, the Wachowskis used a layering approach that would put both the foreground and the background in focus to give it the appearance of real-life anime.cite news | author = Larry Carroll | title = Wachowskis Go With Original ‘Speed Racer' Theme | publisher = MTV | date = 2007-08-27 | url = http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2007/08/27/wachowskis-go-with-original-speed-racer-theme/ | accessdate=2007-11-22] The film will have a "retro future" look, according to Silver. The Mach 5, the vehicle driven by the protagonist Speed, was an actual vehicle.cite news | author=Scott Bowles | url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2007-05-30-speed-racer_N.htm | title=First look: 'Speed Racer's' demon on wheels | publisher=USA Today | date=2007-05-31 | accessdate=2007-05-31 ] Filming completed by August 25 2007. [cite news | author = Steve Chupnick | title = Susan Sarandon on Speed Racer | publisher = SuperHeroHype.com | date = 2007-08-25 | url = http://www.superherohype.com/news/topnews.php?id=6249 | accessdate=2007-11-22] The Wachowskis purchased the rights to the sound effects and theme song of the television series for use in the film.

Animal abuse on set

Animal rights group PETA claimed that a whistleblower on the set of "Speed Racer" reported that a chimpanzee used in the production was beaten after biting an actor. [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18024493/ PETA not monkeying around with ‘Speed Racer’] ] The incident was confirmed by the American Humane Animal Safety Representative on the set, who reported that the stand-in for the Spritle character was bitten without provocation. The AHA representative also reported that “toward the end of filming, during a training session in the presence of the American Humane Representative, the trainer, in an uncontrolled impulse, hit the chimpanzee.” The AHA Film Unit referred to this abuse as “completely inexcusable and unacceptable behavior in the use of any animal.” The AHA has rated "Speed Racer" “Unacceptable.” [ [http://www.ahafilm.info/movies/mr.phtml?fid=7930 Speed Racer Review] ]

Marketing

The film was backed by multiple promotional partners with over $80 million in marketing support. The partners include General Mills, McDonald's, Target, Topps, Esurance, Mattel, and LEGO. The film also received support from companies outside of America in an attempt to attract international audiences. With early support before the film's release, the studio provided 3d computer models of the "Speed Racer" vehicle Mach 5 to the companies so they could accurately render the vehicle in their merchandise. Warner Bros. is aiming to garner enough attention for "Speed Racer" so it would spawn sequels. [cite news | author=Marc Graser | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117979682.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 | title='Speed Racer' aims for multiple tie-ins | publisher=Variety | date=2008-01-25 | accessdate=2008-01-26 ]

Mattel will produce toys based on the film through several divisions. Hot Wheels will produce die-cast vehicles, race sets and track sets. Tyco will produce remote-controlled Mach 5s and racing sets. Radica Games will produce video games in which players can use a car wheel. The products will become available in March 2008. [cite news | author=Warner Bros. Consumer Products | url=http://www.superherohype.com/news/topnews.php?id=5877 | title=Mattel on Board for "Speed Racer" & "The Dark Knight" | publisher=SuperHeroHype.com | date=2007-06-19 | accessdate=2007-06-19 ] Also, The LEGO Company will be producing 4 LEGO sets based on the movie. [cite news | title = Official ‘Speed Racer' License in 2008 | publisher = Eurobricks | date = 2007-12-07 | url = http://eurobricks.hosting.ipsyn.com/euroforum/index.php?showtopic=12059&st=30&p=226526&#entry226526 | accessdate=2007-12-09] As part of the General Mills promotional tie-in, during the 2008 Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400, part of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the famous #43 Dodge Charger of Petty Enterprises was transformed into a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series version of the Mach 5, driven by Bobby Labonte.

Warner Bros. self-published a video game based on "Speed Racer", which was released on May 6th 2008 on the Nintendo DS and Wii, and will be released on September 16 2008 for the PlayStation 2. [Chris Morell, "Speed Racer": "The Matrix" creators spawn the next "Speed Racer" game," "GamePro" 235 (April 2008): 38.] The original music for the Speed Racer video game was written by Winifred Phillips and produced by Winnie Waldron. [cite news | author=Allgame.com | url=http://www.allgame.com/cg/agg.dll?p=agg&sql=1:53424~T3 | title=Speed Racer: The Videogame>Credits | publisher=Allgame.com | date=2008-05-11 | accessdate=2008-05-11 ] The game was released on the Nintendo DS and Wii in May with the film's theatrical release and will be released on the PS2 in the fall to accompany the film's DVD and Blu-ray release. Due to a short development schedule, the studio chose not to develop games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. [cite news | author=Ben Fritz | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117969879.html?categoryid=20&cs=1 | title=WB gears up ' Speed Racer' game | publisher=Variety | date=2007-08-07 | accessdate=2007-08-08 ]

oundtrack

New theme song

In addition to the orchestral score, WB added an updated version of the "Go, Speed Racer, Go" theme song which plays during the end credits. Produced by Ali Dee and Jason Gleed, performed by Ali Dee Theodore and the Deekompressors. The film version has sections in English, Japanese, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Critical reception

"Speed Racer" has received generally negative reviews from film critics.cite web | url= http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/speedracer | title=Speed Racer (2008): Reviews | publisher=Metacritic | accessdate=2008-05-18 ] Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film as "Rotten", with only 37% of its selected critics giving the film positive reviews, based on 180 reviews (65 "fresh", 115 "rotten) with an average rating of 5.0/10, and it has an even worse rating of 31% from its top critics based on 35 reviews (11 "fresh", 24 "rotten") with an average rating of 4.7/10. It did, however, score a 77% percent fresh rating in the website user category. [cite web | url= http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/speed_racer/ | title=Speed Racer at Rotten Tomatoes | publisher=Rotten Tomatoes | accessdate=2008-06-08}] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 37 out of 100, which indicates "generally negative reviews", based on 37 reviews.

Todd McCarthy of "Variety" called the film "pure cotton candy too sweet and pretty for young people to resist". He said that the target audience of families and children should be amused, but that others might think the film "a cinematic pile-up", citing its implausibility and the lack of identifiable peril in the driving sequences. McCarthy noted that no expense had been spared on the effects, saying that viewers with an interest in CGI innovations would be "in a corner of heaven", but that the frame sometimes resembled "nothing so much as a kindergartner's art class collage". He had praise for the cinematography and the "playful and busy" musical score. He also said that even if not much was asked of them "other than to look alert and driven", the cast was "very good for this sort of thing", and Roger Allam made "a delicious love-to-hate-him villain". [cite journal | url=http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117936990.html | title=Speed Racer Review | last=McCarthy | First=Todd | journal=Variety | publisher=Reed Business Information | date=2008-05-01 | accessdate=2008-05-01 ] Kirk Honeycutt of "The Hollywood Reporter" said that the visual effects were "stellar", but that unlike Pixar films which are aimed at as broad an audience as possible, "Speed Racer" "plays very young" and "proudly denies entry into its ultra-bright world to all but gamers, fanboys and anime enthusiasts." He said that story and character were "tossed aside" to "focus obsessively" on the action sequences. He called the number of races "wearying", saying they "all look alike no matter what the backgrounds," though indicating that "each race happens in a completely different environment." He also notes the ineffectiveness of "chimpanzee tricks, kid-brother high jinks, Ninja martial arts by the whole family and a raft of vicious yet harmless villains" to make the long story sequences more bearable. [cite news | url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/imdb/reviews/article_display.jsp?rid=11040&vnu_special_account_code=thrsiteimdbpro | title=Speed Racer review | author=Kirk Honeycutt | publisher=The Hollywood Reporter | date=2008-05-01 | accessdate=2008-05-08 ]

Michael Phillips of the "Chicago Tribune" described Speed Racer as "buoyant pop entertainment focused on three things: speed, racing and retina-splitting oceans of digitally captured color" that takes place in "a freshly conceived visual universe." He says that "the Wachowskis respect the dynamism of the original drawings, while carving out their own middle ground between computer animation and live action. They respect also the themes of honor, dishonor, family loyalty and Visigoth-inspired barbarism behind the wheel." The cast is praised as being "earnest" and "gently playful." However, he notes that "the film runs an overgenerous two hours and 15 minutes, and it sags in its midsection" with unnecessary dialogue. [cite news | url=http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/chi-speed-racer-0509may09,0,3718539.story | title='Speed Racer' (3 stars) | author=Michael Phillips | publisher=Chicago Tribune | date=2008-05-09 | accessdate=2008-05-12 ]

Anthony Lane of "The New Yorker" said the film was "of no conceivable interest to anyone over the age of ten" and that the convoluted plot was "barely worth unpicking". Noting the "lollipop hues", Lane questioned how the film could still end up "bleached of fun", and concluded that the answer was with the theme first mooted by Wachowskis' in "The Matrix" that "all of us, whether we know it or not, are squirming under the thumb of dark controlling forces." In "Speed Racer", Lane argues, this comes in the form of villain Royalton, who "vows to crush [Speed] with 'the unassailable might of money.'" Citing the Wachowskis' involvement in "V for Vendetta" (2005), Lane said "Speed Racer" was not as "criminally poor" as that film, but that it was "more insidious". He concluded: "There's something about the ululating crowds who line the action in color-coordinated rows; the desperate skirting of ordinary feelings in favor of the trumped-up variety; the confidence in technology as a spectacle in itself; and, above all, the sense of master manipulators posing as champions of the little people. What does that remind you of? You could call it entertainment, and use it to wow your children for a couple of hours. To me, it felt like Pop fascism, and I would keep them well away." [cite news | url=http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2008/05/12/080512crci_cinema_lane | title=Around the Bend | author=Anthony Lane | publisher=The New Yorker | date=2008-05-01 | accessdate=2008-05-08 ]

Glenn Kenny of "Premiere" describes Speed Racer as "one of the most genuinely confounding films to come along in years." Depending upon the viewpoint, he said, it was either "the most headache-inducing" children's film of all, or the most expensive avant-garde film ever made. He cited the film's time-shifting narrative and multiple storylines in the early stages as evidence of its "radicalization of film language" and said the movie was "likely to inspire even more heavy thinking on the part of cultural theorists than "The Matrix" did" because of its "blatantly anti-capitalist storylines" and being "a picture that changes the rules of its universe strictly according to its creators' whims." The radical techniques used to tie multiple storylines together, while "impressive to behold," Kenny said, "yields heretofore undreamed of levels of narrative incoherence, but hey, not every experiment succeeds." Kenny praised the film's look, saying the "cheez-whizziness" that others had criticised was "precisely the point". He also said the supporting characters in the race scenes were "brought to life by the Wachowskis with a cheeky relish." [cite news | url=http://www.premiere.com/moviereviews/4561/speed-racer.html | title=Speed Racer review | author=Glenn Kenny | publisher=Premiere | date=2008-05-09 | accessdate=2008-05-09 ]

Jim Emerson, editor at the "Chicago Sun Times", gave the film 1 1/2 stars out of four and wrote that "Speed Racer" "is a manufactured widget, a packaged commodity that capitalizes on an anthropomorphized cartoon of Capitalist Evil in order to sell itself and its ancillary products." [cite journal | url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080507/REVIEWS/115192456/1023 | title=Speed Racer Review | author=Jim Emerson |journal=Chicago Sun Times | date=2008-05-08 | accessdate=2008-05-09 ]

Box office results

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $18,561,337 from around 6,700 screens at 3,606 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking third at the box office behind "Iron Man" (in its second weekend) and "What Happens in Vegas..." (a new release). [cite web|url=http://www.the-numbers.com/charts/weekly/2008/20080509.php | title='The Top Movies, Weekend of May 9, 2008'] In its second weekend, the film grossed $8,117,459 and ranked #4 at the box office. The results were well below studio expectations [cite web|url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117987417.html?categoryid=2508&cs=1 |title=Why 'Speed Racer' sputtered |accessdate=2008-06-18 |author=Anne Thompson |date=2008-06-18 |work=Variety] , given that production costs of "Speed Racer" are estimated to be about $120 million USD. [cite web|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20199172,00.html |title='Speed Racer' Crashes at the Box Office |accessdate=2008-05-12 |author=Joshua Rich |date=2008-05-11 |work=Entertainment Weekly] Despite the low box office numbers, Warner Brothers remains optimistic about sales of associated products ranging from toys to tennis shoes. "We're still going to do very well with "Speed Racer"," says Brad Globe, president of Warner Brothers Consumer Products, acknowledging "a giant movie would have made it all a lot bigger." [cite web|url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117985941.html?categoryId=2526&cs=1 |title='Speed Racer's' driving force |accessdate=2008-05-16 |author=Marc Graser |date=2008-05-16 |work=Variety] . According to "Box Office Mojo," the movie has grossed slightly over $93 million worldwide, and according to IMDBpro the film has grossed over $95 million, still missing the Australia and France openings.

DVD and Blu-ray release

Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the Wachowski brothers film 'Speed Racer' to Blu-ray on September 16th, day-and-date with the DVD release. This three-disc set will feature the main feature and supplemental features on the first disc, the DVD game "Speed Racer Crucible Challenge" on the second disc, and a digital copy of the film on the third disc - the last two being exclusive to the Blu-ray release. The digital copy is for Windows-based PCs; despite what the sticker on the outside packaging reads, the file is not compatible with Apple products like Macs or iPods.On its release, the movie made up slightly for its poor theatrical run by selling 406,000 units, which made a profit of around $8.40 million. Its Blu-ray sales were around 50,000 units and had a $1.3 million profit.

References

External links

* [http://speedracerthemovie.warnerbros.com/ Official site and trailer]
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* [http://movies.about.com/od/speedracer "Speed Racer"] at About.com
* [http://www.vrmag.org/speedracer Making of and Special Effects Team interviews]
* [http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=1521 http://www.blu-ray.com]


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