If you’re into high-octane car racing, trippy Japanese anime and awesome visuals, this is spectacular family fare.
Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch of “Into the Wild”) is obsessed with racing. Despite the death of his adored older brother, Rex, who was presumably killed in an accident years earlier, the sport is a family passion. His dad (John Goodman) runs an independent racing team with the moral (and culinary) support of his mom (Susan Sarandon) and to the delight of his 11 year-old brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt), along with his pet chimpanzee, and Speed’s perky, helicopter-pilot girl-friend, Trixie (Christina Ricci).
When Speed’s recruited to join ultramodern Royalton Industries, he refuses, infuriating its owner (Roger Allam), who maintains that money rules and the biggest races are ‘fixed’ with the finishing order planned and controlled. If Speed won’t drive his Mach 5 for Royalton, the family business is in jeopardy, along with his life. After preliminary skirmishes, Speed teams up his one-time rival, mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox of “Lost”) who is working with a secret law-enforcement agency. The 91st Annual Grand Prix turns out to be a showdown with corrupt big business.
On their first writing/directing collaboration since the “Matrix” trilogy, Andy and Larry Wachowski spent $120 million – and every penny shows in the 2000+ edgy, vibrant, candy-colored, kaleidoscopic visual effects. They’ve invented a new process of combining CGI with live action, utilizing perspective control that allows two images to be in focus at the same time. Designed by ‘carchitects,’ their World Racing League is an acrobatic, full-contact motor sport, described as ‘Car-Fu,’ automotive martial arts.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Speed Racer” is an intense, adrenaline-pumping, unstoppable 8 – and don’t forget the sleek Hot Wheels tie-in toys, including 1,500 action-figures.