Time is running out

Time is running out

Posted by Sean Stangland on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 21:53

I was right yesterday about the impending disappearance of "Speed Racer" -- beginning Friday, the Wachowski brothers' much-maligned visual masterpiece will only be playing in ten theaters in the Chicago area, according to this page at movietickets.com. Happily, one of those locations is the Muvico 18 in Rosemont, where the movie's colors will really pop in that theater's all-digital presentation. One can assume that Thursday will be the film's last day in first-run theaters.

Just about every critic in the country hated this movie, with the notable exception of our man Dann Gire, whose video review of the film can be seen here at dailyherald.com. A particularly passionate defense of the film can be found here at The Hot Button, one of two blogs written by Hollywood pundit David Poland.

It seems that one of the main criticisms of "Speed Racer" is that it is a soulless, commercial product, which seems pretty strange to me. I've never seen a soulless, commercial product that goes this far out of its way to be unconventional, both in presentation and in narrative. Heck, it's a movie about auto racing and they don't even drive cars made by real automakers. Some of the same critics calling "Speed Racer" a shamelessly commercial product gave "Transformers" a pass last year -- that movie featured a Mountain Dew machine that turned into a robot, for crying out loud. "Speed Racer" is mostly an exercise in style and technique -- a risky gambit if you have neither, but this movie gives us an entirely new world to drink in.

I really must wonder if this film would be getting good reviews simply if it were a Pixar film with animated characters. The aversion to actors populating a totally animated environment is understandable, given how lame George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels were, but "Speed Racer" has more imagination and invention in its first 20 minutes than Lucas showed in his last three films combined.

I know how silly it is to champion a mega-budgeted Hollywood product, but when a film this daring and just plain different has somehow slipped past everyone -- including the hare-brained studio executives who actually greenlit the thing -- I want to share the joy of watching it.

(Of course, if I see it a second time and hate it, I'm going to look awfully silly, aren't I?)

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