Making Sense of Speed Racer‘s Failure

Speed Racer

Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal attempts to make sense of the spectacular box office failure of Speed Racer, which raced to becoming a bona fide flop both in the US and overseas. He writes:

“[C]haos isn’t a surefire selling tool, not even when the target audience is sensation-hungry kids…Kids need inoculation against media-generated chaos. That’s not to suggest seeking out entertainment that preaches, peddles homilies, hustles uplift or shies away from the darker areas of human experience that inform some of our most cherished fairy tales (or, for that matter, one of my most cherished films, Carol Reed’s “Oliver!”). It’s more than enough when movies enhance a sense of wonder (and, as a byproduct, a capacity for concentration); when they delight and surprise (as Pixar productions do so dependably); when they open up the world through the window of thrilling fiction.”

Director and animator Will Finn also shares some worthwhile filmmaking insights on his blog about why Speed Racer was so poorly received by audiences.

Read more CGI

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    Perhaps also due to the fact this film had a TERRIBLE trailer. The movie itself wasn’t bad. It was like being punched in the face with a fist made of rainbows and adrenaline. But a pleasant friendly punch in the face.

  • http://johnnybacardi.blogspot.com Johnny Bacardi

    Ken Lowery is quite passionate in his defense of the film; go here to read what he has to say.

  • Joe P

    The audience I was in responded in a positive way. Too much competition from other films helped sink this movie.

  • Dave

    I thought the trailer wasn’t bad, but it was never marketed as a kid’s movie. All that racing scenes in the trailer struck me as a Too Fast Too Furious updated with candy colours.

  • Andrew

    I enjoyed the film immensely (maybe because I like animating things like that), but I was sorely disappointed NOT by how bad or good it was, but by how much disrespect it was getting from people after opening weekend! It is NOT a huge failure! Consider the amount of theatres it was released in compared to the usual for a big-budget film. The fact that people kept comparing it to Iron Man, although that was also a huge factor, REALLY made me annoyed!

    Your post made me understand it a bit more, and I feel much better.

  • http://www.sandboxworld.com tone

    The character and series is well known by a certain demographic audience. The general audience is not aware of Speed Racer. Not much hype of the older series was brought out before the movie. A crash recantation of the series would help, the movie did not have enough legs to stand on.

    Seems every new take on foreign franchises is failing in the North American market. I am pretty sure an Ultra Man or even a Gatchaman movie would fail here. These type of series have a short generational support here and did not jump on to the fancy of the next generation. Home grown products such as the 3 above have a great fan base at home in Japan, but not in North America. The three franchises have dormant resurrections in North America and fade into oblivion till somebody comes up with a brilliant idea to bring the characters back in some form of media outlet. The fame is fleeting, it last only for a short time.

    The characters that are culturally identified with our culture such as Superman, Teen Titans, or the Batmobile are the same as Ultra Man, Gatchaman, Speed Racer are back home in Japan. I am sure The Speed Racer Movie will not be well received in Japan, it is not unique to their society, the vision belongs to outsiders.

  • purin

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve been thinking that, although it has speed lines, and solid-color shirts, the movie looks way too shiny and garish. I can see some of the basis for their designs, and I can tell they were going for something stylized and campy, but if they had turned down the gloss and made things more matte and muddied up the colors a little to be more like low budget 60s animation, they might have been onto something more like the right kind of camp.

    For people who have seen the movie: Is there a shot of Speed, startled by something, going “OOOH! :O”

  • Gary Pearson

    There was at least one too many races in that picture and too many heartfelt conversations about the integrity of racing which bloated a movie that should have clocked in at a tight 88 minutes instead of over 2 hours. No amount of computer pizazz and flashy colours can save a limp story. I actually loved the design of it and the style of the film making, and then about 20 minutes in, started to get really bored. As far as Speed Racer as a character is concerned, he was never a Batman or Spider-Man waiting to be made. He was a minor character on the pop culture landscape, and everyone who loved him was likely there on opening night.

    At least we found out what happens to Jack from Lost…he becomes Racer X!

  • http://www.octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    Well, I think the movie was a flop because it simply underestimates kids and relies too heavily on action-packed CGI.

  • http://www.sacks10.blogspot.com SACKS10

    Saw it over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised at how good it actually was. It (in my opinion) was more action packed than Ironman and had me on the edge of my seat. Lets not forget the fact that this is a family movie that is rated PG. I definitely feel I got my money’s worth and my son ,as well as the few other kids in attendance, loved it and wanted seconds.

  • Bill Freiberger

    I felt the flaw in the movie was that the special effects didn’t create the illusion of reality. They looked like a video game. And watching someone else play a video game isn’t as exciting as playing one yourself. Also, the storytelling was hurt because you never knew who was winning or losing the races. There was never a point of reference in any of the races because the tracks (and the shots depicting them) were all designed to be unrealistic.

    I thought from a story standpoint the movie held up very well. The script wasn’t bad. It’s just that at the moments when the audience should have been sensing excitement and danger, they were watching abstraction.

  • Neeto

    Glad Zekey said it first, I actually enjoyed the film, but the only reason I even bothered to go and see it in Imax was because the tickets were free. The trailer really turned me off from the film at first glance.

    Not to mention it was going against a already crowded movie release schedule with the likes of Iron Man and Narnia.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    I actually liked the visuals in the trailer, the casting, the original anime and the Wachowski’s first Matrix movie. So I went to see the Wachowski’s Speed Racer last week totally enthused. Boy, was I let down. It was awful; a real disappointment.

    I believe there is a commercial movie in there, somewhere. Problem one, it was over two hours long. That’s way too much time to spend in “candyland”. The script was that of only a half hour show (or a two-part episode at best).

    The other problem is the whole premise of the movie being a live action “cartoon”. It all takes place in a world of “heightened reality”. There was no sense of truth, danger, or real world emotion. Fantasy films like this need to be rooted in reality. Think the Kansas scenes in The Wizard Of Oz, or the first part of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Those initial scenes make the fantasy work.

    I was really rooting for a unique experience, and a fun film. The Wachowski’s Speed Racer is certainly not the future of digital filmmaking. It’s a throwback to the kind of idiotic corporate movie making that adapts cartoons and comic books and creates crap like the live action Flintstones and Scooby Doo.

    I can’t recall a summer filled with so many big budget comic book, cartoon and fantasy films in successive release. The box office rejection to crap like Speed Racer sends the correct message back to its producers. However, with the success of an intelligent super hero adventure like Iron Man, and the certain success of Indiana Jones, The Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E, I’m actually optimistic that Hollywood is beginning to get it.

  • http://news.toonzone.net Edward Liu

    Speaking personally, the live-action Speed Racer looked really interesting from a visual perspective, but I really just didn’t care about anything else in the trailer that wasn’t a car. Based on the trailer, the movie looked like it would swing between headache-inducing racing insanity, and scenes of dull, self-important dialogue.

    Even in the racing sequences, I couldn’t make out the cars well enough in this crazy, candy-colored visual overload they were aiming for. I think the Wachowski’s really, really need someone who can say, “No, you’re going to far with this” because the action sequences in the latter 2 Matrix movies were long and dull, and this just looked like their response to that kind of criticism was to go even further. It’s like watching someone else play a 3-D video game. It might be intermittently fun, eventually, an observer who’s just watching gets disoriented and bored.

    The fact that the Wachowski’s haven’t done anything I really enjoyed since the first Matrix movie didn’t help. The Wachowski fanatics can protest all they want about their movies that people who don’t like them just “don’t get it.” I “get it” perfectly. I just don’t think it’s very interesting any more.

    Hearing that this thing was more than 2 hours long when the average 2-parters of the original show felt drawn-out at probably 40 minutes was probably the final nail in the coffin. Someone really needs to tell Hollywood filmmakers that length != quality. Epic movies need to be long. Running long does not make you an epic movie. Speed Racer is NOT EPIC. It’s a guy in a car racing around a track.

  • http://www.myspace.com/brandontoons Brandon

    I figure the reason it bombed was because it starred Emile Hirsch. He is box office poison you know.

  • Steve Gattuso

    There are multiple reasons for a film’s inability to garner a big box office, but timing is always first place on the list. Film scheduling is almost voodoo-like in the way it works. Stick your movie in a good slot and you can still do okay if other factors conspire against you.

    Unfortunately, this is a movie that opened at a time when other, higher-profile flicks were coming out. “Iron Man,” “Narnia,” “Indiana Jones 4,” etc. In such a flood, it got lost in the shuffle. Maybe if it had swapped to summer ’09, when there is expected to be fewer such top-billings available, it would have made more cash.

    Since I have not seen the film, I won’t make any statement of quality having an impact. I WILL say that having grown up with the original series as a kid, it’d be damned hard to make something worse…

  • Tom Pope

    Saw “Grand Prix” recently on TCM. Boring relationship stuff, but totally awesome racing footage. There’s no question that real cars on real streets with great stunts and editing (3 Oscars) make a huge difference. Of course, it’s a completely different type of film in a different era, but I certainly got a thrill out of it.

  • Lucy

    Well, a lot of people probably passed their judgment from the trailer alone :\… But then again, not as many people are going to theaters, remember. It makes sense that Iron Man would have a better opening; it appealed to the largest age demographic that still attends theaters. Let’s see how many parents get this on DVD for their kids. I can guarantee my nephew and my brother alone are going to get this for Christmas.

  • ridgecity

    I haven’t seen the movie, but as a anime fan I can say, that:

    1. the actual fans are too old to go watch it.
    2. the gfx are the main attraction here, in the trailers it doesn’t seem to be an story involved but racing and jumps and more racing. Everyone that could care knows Speed loves the racing, but a real adventure story would have felt nicer for a movie rather than “You are racing for me and you are going to make me rich!” kind of plot…
    3. I think too much intense colors makes people wanna avoid it, when I watch the clips I feel dizzy with so much color moving so fast!
    4. Iron man, fits a lot more with what people wanna watch right now, super heroes with a sense of humor, Pixar comedies and fantasy books that don’t explain the world (dream sequence is enough) and the story just happens, are the norm. I’m actually afraid of what’s going to happen with Astroboy and Gatchaman 3d films as anime seems to be what kids are fed up from right now…

  • Max

    “the tendency of live-action filmmakers to adapt the visual sense of animation with either contempt, confusion, or a complete lack of understanding.”

    Beowulf.

    Roger Rabbit.

    ugh.

  • Roberto

    I actually thought it was ok. I’ve never watched the original series and I am not interested in cars or races at all. In some aspects it does look like the little things I know from the anime, but the Wachowskys really wanted to do their stuff I guess.

    There were way too much childish aspects IMO and it was mixed with things children will find boring (like the evil guy explaining his plans), but other than that it was ok, some of the visual elements were really creative and Sarandon, Ricci and Goodman are all kinda likeable.

    I didn’t love it and I won’t probably watch it again in a long, long time, but I don’t think it was especially bad. Iron Man is more enjoyable but perhaps more conventional as well.

  • http://www.myspace.com/crumbcrispcoating Jonathan the Bellboy

    I went to see it with ten kids (birthday party) and incredibly low expectations based on bad reviews and the last two Matrix pictures. I was very pleasantly surprised.

    I could still find fault with the movie. The second half could have been trimmed and that mainly could have come from, dare I say it, gratuitous character arcs. I loved the original series, and have been happy to show it to my kids, but the characters are enjoyably one-note. Attempts to flesh them out just bogged the picture down. It was at its best when it was racing or everyone stopped their cars for a fight.

    I hope to see better before the summer’s up, but I could certainly have done worse than Speed Racer and no doubt will again in the course of family movies.

  • Oliver

    Pardon the pun, but do racing movies have much of a track record? Renny Harlin’s ‘Driven’ can only be 10 years old, but it flopped so badly I wonder how many people even remember it.

    Furthermore, if Speed Racer is indeed “the future of movies” then I’m sticking with the CGI-free thrills of my Harold Lloyd boxset.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    I saw that movie and I loved it. I think its failure has more to do with the reaction against saturation advertising that most adults seem to harbor, as well as the lingering resentment nerds feel towards the Wachowskis for Matrix Reloaded. It was a really fun movie. The fact that it failed to find an audience doesn’t speak to that at all.

  • http://gerarddesouza.blogspot.com Gerard de Souza

    I dunno.

    Speed Racer was Speed Racer; the rapid fire scenes, the talking heads, the collage/montage sequences. But the problem, I think, is reintroducing Speed to a new generation and to a boomer like me, as it succeeds in feeling like a cartoon I think to myself why didn’t they make a cartoon, one of a quality of a Pokemon feature? The original series as corny at it is holds up amazingly well, it’s not simply nostalgia on my part. “Reimagining” Speed Racer has never worked whether “hipper” updated designs in new animation or like this faithful live action.

    When I try to figure out why the original worked it has to be the first “A.D.D.” cartoon, perhaps of any show, I think can of predating MTV.

    It just kept moving with tons of scenes. I guess it was so fast and kept me so so glued I didn’t know I was hit with a corny story until after I enjoy the show. And that’s the same reaction I get revisiting it as an adult.

  • ridgecity

    Not to mention that the show wasn’t that complex to begin with, it’s about racing and the trouble that happens during the race, they even talked really fast in the original cartoon! Ha Ha!

  • Zep

    “Unfortunately, this is a movie that opened at a time when other, higher-profile flicks were coming out. “Iron Man,” “Narnia,” “Indiana Jones 4,” etc. In such a flood, it got lost in the shuffle.”

    But of the films you name only “Iron Man” was actually in theaters competing for ticket money with Speed Racer-the others were weeks away from coming out-an age in summer movie time.

    Are you suggesting that the mere anticipation of eventually seeing Indiana Jones or Narnia defeated this movie for its potential audience?
    If it was “lost in the shuffle” it’s because:
    -it tested horribly
    -WB knew they had a turkey and let it lie there
    -it was 45 minutes TOO LONG for even the most devoted potential fans
    - kids didn’t care about its retro anime source material
    -it had no stars
    -it had an unengaging trailer

    and last but not least, it’s a cold-looking, dull, garish, weird and self-indulgent mess.

  • http://www.alessandroceglia.com/theintruder Alessandro

    I thought the visuals were pretty ballsy… I haven’t really seen anything as groundbreaking since Sin City. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend seeing it, but don’t go in expecting an amazing story. It is Speed Racer after all.

  • Peter

    People who write off Speed Racer’s failure as a fault of its competition with Iron Man really overestimate the anticipation anyone had for that movie, which can’t honestly be called anything but an unreasonably pleasant surprise. Speed Racer looked like an assault on the senses, an ugly, migrane-inducing two hours in the theater for parents to endure, like one of Robert Rodriguez’ cinematic torture instruments like Spy Kids or Shark Boy. Box office competition doesn’t explain why “What Happens in Vegas” (!) made $50 million over the last couple of weeks instead of mercy-killing Ashton Kutcher’s career, finally (not to mention Cameron Diaz).

    Happily, my kids were as disinterested in the movie as they are in the upcoming Indiana Jones thing, because they have zero nostalgia for a cartoon series that I barely remember myself though I did watch it as a kid. I guess an opposing point could be made that Alvin and the Chipmunks was somehow successful despite being based on something as vapid and archaic as Speed Racer.

  • Travis Gentry

    I am in the majority here in that I didn’t see this. I thought the trailer looked god-awful. It looked like something on par with Spy Kids 3, not a summer must-see blockbuster. The effects looked straight out of a PS3 game. Great for a game, not good for a movie. There didn’t seem to be much of a story, at least as far as I could tell. If the reviews had been glowing I would have seen it anyway, but since they weren’t… the studio completely misjudged this if they thought it would be a hit.

    The only thing that saddens me about SR flopping is that it will be less likely now we’ll ever see a good live action Jonny Quest, a series that actually had/has good potential for the big screen.

  • fishmorgjp

    Flintstones live-action… Scooby-Doo live action… Chipmunks live-action… and now Speed Racer live-action. Yeh, smells like the future of movies, all right. Phew!

  • http://www.tjrmusic.com TJR

    As a kid I didn’t like the original series. But I was surprised at how much I liked the movie. And I thought it had a real heart to it too……But most of all (And I say this as an independent musician and recording artist) I found the film to be a real anology to the independent music community…..I should probably write a blog on this on my own site.

  • Josh

    Saw it on Saturday night, and like many people here, thought it was a lot better than the reviews made it out to be — which is not to say great, but not unwatchable either. Its main problem, besides the fact is was about 40 minutes too long, was that it couldn’t quite seem to decide on its audience. Some stuff seemed squarely aimed at kids (all the Spridle/Chimchim stuff, which was probably the worst aspect of the movie), others at adults (I doubt any kid didn’t fidget during Royalton’s stock price lecture), and others at anime fans.

  • http://www.cartoonsolutions.com Ryan Simmons

    I saw the movie opening weekend with my 3 young sons age 10, 7 and 3 and they all enjoyed it for the most part. They got slightly squirmy during the heart to heart and exposition scenes.

    My biggest pet peeve with the movie was that all of the action scenes were so hard to make out what was going on. Seemed like 2 out of every 3 shots was incoherent blurs, swipes and general disorientation, leaving feeling like you don’t know exactly what is going on. Visually it was Las Vegas on Crack.

    I did like the inventive use of battle during the racing. It was like watching cars perform karate kicks, flips and punches.

  • Andrew

    From the Wikipedia article on the Wachowski Brothers:

    “The brothers admit to a love for telling multipart stories. “Because we grew up on comic books and the Tolkien trilogy, one of the things we’re interested in is bringing serial fiction to cinema,” Larry explains. “If you could have a film where you don’t get to the hour-and-a-half mark and know, ‘Okay, here it comes, the big wrap-up,’ but instead you have no idea how the movie’s going to end, I think that would be very exciting.” Andy puts his desire to shake up viewers a bit more bluntly: “We think movies are fairly boring and predictable. We want to screw with audiences’ expectations.”

    THERE’S YOUR PROBLEM RIGHT THERE! *points*

  • Andy Mac

    I went to see the movie opening weekend with my 10 year old daughter, after hearing the bad reviews and expecting the worst. We both enjoyed the movie. She turned to me as we were walking out of the theatre and ask me if they were going to make a second one.

    I thought the plot and story were alright, certainly not going to win any awards, but who expected it. I thought the visuals and the colors were extraordinary. The car race scenes were beautiful and exciting. I enjoyed the movie. I saw Iron Man this past weekend, and before I get flamed, I will say that I liked it, but of the two, I liked Speed Racer more. Iron Man was basically a remake of the recent Marvel Animated Movie,The Invincible Iron Man (2007) ,if anyone happened to see it.

  • Gobo

    “Roger Rabbit. Ugh.” — seriously?

  • http://geritopiablogspot.com Professor Widebottom

    I was one of two people in the universe who didn’t care for Matrix (please refrain from stabbing me). So, it looks like I would absolutely hate this Speed Racer adaptation. Over 2 hrs IS too long… that reeks of an overkilling the sensory nerves right there.

    Are we ever going to exhaust this exploitation of TV franchises? Pleeeeeze!!!! Instead of Speed Racer, I’d like to see a psychological thriller based on My Mother the Car.

  • Peter

    I’m glad I ignored the bad reviews and went to see it because I loved it. While I think they should have cut it down by 20 or 30 minutes since they were marketing it to families, I was surprised to find that it never dragged. I liked he heart to hearts and I loved the crazy racing.

    It’s interesting how many different responses there are to the same elements of this thing. I don’t say anyone should have loved it, to each his own, but I sure enjoyed it.

    And Andy Mac, “Iron Man” was not a remake of the Animated “Invincible Iron Man.” They are both retellings of the same comic book story. One, a well told, well acted, graphically inventive movie, and the other. . . not.

  • http://geritopiablogspot.com Professor Widebottom

    Ridgecity Says said: “1. the actual fans are too old to go watch it.”

    Ouch!-Ouch!-Ouch!-Ouch!-Ouch!-Ouch!-Ouch!-Ouch!

  • Paulo

    In response to Adrews comment about the movie not being a huge failure.

    It cost 120million to make and then add another 100million for P and A. The movie to date has made a little over 30million, I think its safe to say that financially it was a huge failure, and it does not matter how great the story may be, if its not selling enough tickets then the executives will label it a failure. Remember Iron Giant, a great film and story but sadly it was overlooked.

  • Bruce Franklin

    I took my three kids opening weekend. The younger two complained of migraines about an hour into “Speed Racer”, but we all stuck it out to the end, hoping things would improve. As we left the theater, my oldest asked me if the people who made the film knew that they had created the world’s longest digital TV demo. There IS a use for this overbudgeted piece of corporate crap: Best Buy can run it on a loop to showcase their banks of flat screens on sale.

  • droosan

    I enjoyed SPEED RACER immensely; I’ve seen it twice. I think it captures the ‘spirit’ of the original anime perfectly.

    SPEED RACER has always been something of a ‘fringe-level’ cult classic. A live-action movie wasn’t going to change that, no matter how entertaining it was.

    I’ve been a lifelong fan of both MACH GO-GO-GO and SPPED RACER .. and -I- wouldn’t have given the Wachowskis $160 million to make this movie. But I’m very glad someone else did!

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    In all honesty, I’d gladly see the film again.
    Seeing John Goodman fight a ninja alone was worth the price of admission.

  • Duze

    I thought this movie rocked! I keep reading terrible reviews about it, but all the things they rag on (for the most part) are the things I thought made the movie great!
    I was never a fan of the cartoon, so I didn’t have some gripe with “It’s not like the TV show, or they made it too far from the tv show” … I was able to take it in for what it was: A fun, action packed ride that races to the finish line.

    I thought the visual style was amazing. I loved the vibrant colors and stylized graphics. It really felt like a live-action anime, which is EXACTLY what it was.
    From a story standpoint – yeah, it was a bit cookiecutter, predictable and simple. But I argue that there was complexity in the dialogue and even in its simplicity it kept you entertained and never got too confusing. I even think that if the story was more “ironed out or complex” it would have been an overload when put up against the visuals.
    I was trying to figure out what people didn’t like about it … and I think they wanted “Transformers” – a photorealistic, Micheal Bay-ish film that’s seamless and takes place in the real world.

    And that’s just what I love about it. It’s not in the real world. It’s the Speed Racer world. It’s something no one’s ever seen before and from a visual standpoint alone, this movie was awe-inspiring for me.

  • Erik Verkerk

    Well…. I thought it was nice.

  • Somany

    I saw the movie too. Not being a fan of the cartoon I didn’t know what to expect. It was a fun movie. I really enjoyed it. A wacky trip. My only complain is that it was about 15 minutes too long. If they had cut down on the exposition it would be fine.

  • Dave

    Oliver:
    Car racing movies don’t do too badly.
    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=carracing.htm

    Even The Fast and the Furious did box-office that Box Office Mojo would be envious of.

    Bradon:
    I thought Emilie Hirsch did quite well in Into the Wild. But come on; we know Speed Racer is the Wachowski’s film.

    Just waiting to see if The Happening will be a bigger bomb than this.

  • Nathan Strum

    I initially enjoyed watching the film – but more out of an interest in the techniques used to make it, than for the actual story and characters. The film sort of visually overwhelmed me for two hours, and kept me from actually paying attention to what was really going on. As I reflected on it afterwards, I realized that I really didn’t care for any of the characters in the film. Only Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox and Roger Allam seemed to be genuinely having any fun making the film. Everyone else seemed to be phoning in their performances, and I never bought into them as being their characters (how much of this is attributable to the writing, acting and/or directing is debatable). The story was fine, since it was very much in keeping with stories in the original series. That’s not to say it couldn’t have been written better, however. But the lack of fun is what bothered me. Speed never seemed to enjoy driving. How are we supposed to enjoy watching him? That, and the excessively long running time, are likely keeping people away from the film, more than its origins as an obscure anime series, bizarre visuals, or box office competition. Parents aren’t going to take their kids to any film longer than 90 minutes.

    As pointed out already, Speed Racer looked a lot like a video game. The problem is, video games aren’t designed to fill your entire field of vision. They’re meant to be looked at from a distance, so you can have an overview of everything happening on screen at the same time. This is the same vantage point you have when you are creating movies entirely in a computer – you get to see everything at once, at a manageable size. I think some digital filmmakers tend to lose sight of the fact that what they may be seeing on the computer in terms of shot composition and editing may not play well when blown up to a movie screen that’s 3 stories tall. To my eye, Speed Racer looks like a movie that would work much better on a big screen TV, than a movie screen. I can’t imagine what people seeing it in IMAX must be going through.

    I still think it’s a really interesting film, but as a fan of the original series (certainly in part because of its campiness) I was disappointed that I just didn’t have as much fun as I was hoping to. I guess for good or bad, we won’t have to worry about what the sequel would have been like.

  • http://stephansolarchive.blogspot.com Stephan

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the SpeedRacer TV commercials here in Holland really sucked ass. Next to that, I think that the movie will appeal more to kids who also know the animation series…

  • BigHorse

    Just my personal review and maybe it’s slanted by my age and expectations, but I thought it was just another forgettable brainless, plotless, CGI rollercoaster of the type I’ve come to expect from Hollywood. The original animated Speed Racer, which I loved as a kid, was funky in a campy sort of way, but still has a charm that this doesn’t even approach.

    This was like watching a car commercial, like one of those where some struggling US car company makes their 4-door, 4-cylinder family sedan, that looks like every other car on the road, behave like something in between a formula-one race car and an F-16 by driving it through a whacked-out CGI landscape…for TWO-HOURS!

    I went in expecting something nice and came out with nothing but sore eyes, messed up equilibrium and ten dollars poorer. Disappointing.

  • Steve Gattuso

    “But of the films you name only “Iron Man” was actually in theaters competing for ticket money with Speed Racer-the others were weeks away from coming out-an age in summer movie time.”

    “Narnia” opened this past weekend, close enough to do damage. And “Indy” opens the 22nd, also close enough to do damage. Most folks, given a choice between a known quantity and an unknown one, stick to the familiar. Especially when ticket prices are at double-digit levels before you’ve even got the popcorn.

    Like I said, it wasn’t the only factor, but it damned sure was the biggest. And “not seeing this because there’s something else coming up” was a very common thing for me to hear in theatres. I should know, I worked for ‘em for a decade before going white-collar.

  • Drix Draxell

    Speed was having no fun because he was essentially driving a large Lexus. A tomb on wheels.

  • http://www.ovinedelcu.blogspot.com ovi

    i havent seen the movie, but it LOOKED stupid the first time i saw the trailer. where those BGs CG model with BRYCE 3d?

    ugh. gross.

    to sum up that movie(without seeing it) in 3 words.

    candy, neons and bumper cars.

  • Fidel

    SPEED RACER wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t good enough. It was also about 40 minutes too long and was not marketed properly. Warner Bros. could have hyped the film a bit more by making sure the TV show (which is poorly animated, unfortunately) had been getting heavy rotation in some sort of station…CW maybe?? haha. Yeah, not much, except editing a whole bunch of scenes, could have helped this mess, however trippy and even somewhat enjoyable…in a campy way.

  • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com Cory Gross

    When I first saw the trailers for this, what immediately popped to mind was the saturated, blacklit and neon-drenched atmosphere of an arcade, with the thumping bass speakers and flashing screens of “Dance Dance Revolution” and “Initial D” lined up against the wall and perfectly-coiffed, PVC-jacketted kids lined up to play them. Someone said it reminded them of Las Vegas… I was thinking more of downtown Tokyo at night.

    Which totally works for me, and which makes me want to see this. I am a Wachowski fan – actually liking Matrix 2 more than Matrix 1 and not really being disappointed by anything they’ve made yet (I guess that makes me part of the vacuous ADD-generation according to some old guy who wrote some review on this crazy new thing called “The Internets”, even if I read books, love silent films and listen to Satchmo) – and so it was a given that I’d want to see it anyways. I’m also interested in the aesthetics of Japanese pop-culture, of which anime is only a part and of which this movie screams.

    The reviews aren’t doing anything to disauade me. They seem sufficiently mixed and mostly reinforcing things I picked up on already. Goodness, if you saw the trailer and weren’t expecting ridiculous, campy dialogue then what were you expecting? Apparently it’s overlong, and knowing that I know not to worry about having to go to the bathroom, and maybe stop by the arcade in the threatre to play a round of something.

    The problem is just convincing my girlfriend and friends to see it. No luck so far… but if it keps bombing, that means it’ll be in the cheap theatre sooner rather than later.

  • http://www.smartcomix.com Rob

    Whoa … Zep … can you tone it down a bit. Sounds like you haven’t even seen this movie, and you are jumping on the coat tails of “the critics”, who obviously know what is best for us mere mortals. To make such sweeping criticisms of the film it deserves a viewing. I for one found the film quite engaging, and that it achieved what it set out to do … provide high saturated frenetic sensory overload with a descent storyline; escapist entertainment. No more … no less.

  • http://www.cartoonsolutions.com Ryan Simmons

    Anyone consider the PG rating as a possible box office killer for the film?

    I know that months before the movie came out, I saw the trailer had a PG-13 rating, but that it changed right before the release to PG.

    Generally the PG crowd is young families which I’m not sure this movie particularly appealed to. The PG-13 crowd would probably dismiss it because it’s not going to be as edgy or intense a movie as they would like and therefore would opt out of considering seeing it.

    I think a movie’s rating sends out a very strong message and I’m willing to bet that Speed Racer would have made more money if it were rated PG-13. I’m not saying that they would have made their money back, but it definitely would have made more.

  • mawnck

    Loved every second of it, including the 40 minutes all you guys want to cut out. Out-of-this-world visuals, with sufficient story to carry them. And Christina Ricci never looked cuter.

    BTW … didn’t everyone hate “Tron” when it came out?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Being the first Wachowski film I’ve seen (never got into The Matrix stuff), I only spotted at least one part of the film I didn’t care for, the plotting, as they really do like to use flashbacks to further the exposition throughout much of the film (also the usual “talking head” deal we shant avoid if we needed to know more about this world that doesn’t need much explanation). In one scene, it kept going forward, then back again, then a tiny step forward and one leap ahead. It’s a kind of structure that’s a tad confusing and odd to me and it made my viewing a little less enjoyable over some of the casting choices (where were nice). To sum it up, not a bad movie, but needed work.

  • Steve Humphreys

    My anime books describe the original Speed Racer as “the
    thing never stops moving.” Too bad that is not true for this. It
    would have been an improvement. Maybe there were too
    many cooks, 10 times as many people working on this as
    on Ironman, which was a better movie.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    You could be right Steve, plus this film had been in and out of development for over a decade or so. Just seemed like it was never going to go anywhere until the Matrix guys got around to it.

  • http://urvybalboa.deviantart.com Urvy Jaramillo

    People want to see dark and gritty these days, IMO.

  • Susana

    I haven’t seen the movie either, but I thought the theatrical trailer was REALLY AWESOME. The ones they showed on television weren’t so great, but the theatrical trailer got me so excited, just to see the trailer :P

    As for being marketed to kids, I still like to watch Saturday morning cartoons :) and I was doing just that. It was probably the CW channel 5 (aka Kid’s WB). So yeah, I was watching the channel, when I saw trailers for Speed Racer! (Of course, followed by Speed Racer action toys, etc.) But I didn’t expect to see the movie trailer there! Well, watching the trailer in the context of kids cartoons was a bit odd. I don’t know if it would have been so appealing to kids because it was different. So many bright cgi colors and fast moving things on the screen, but I don’t know if they could really understand what was happening in the trailer and the story and stuff.

  • http://www.artware.com.mx Arturo

    To all the people involved in “Dragonball” movie… it’s still time to cancel it XD…