Go Speed Go.

by Steve Bowler on May 18, 2008

in general,uncategorized

I finally got off my rear and went with a friend to go see the new Speed Racer movie last night, and I’m really glad I did. Not only am I a humongous Speed Racer fan from back when it originally aired on TV here in the states, I’m a fan of the Wachowskis and what they attempt to do with movies, so I figured I’d give this a shot. Warning: A few mild spoilers follow, but none if you were already a fan of the TV show.

I was on board with the cartoony color and the camp and all of the stuff I’m sure everyone else hated about the movie. I’m not going to hold that against anyone if they didn’t like it. Hell, I can even forgive them the Mach 6. So many fanboys cried foul when they noticed that Speed was piloting a new vehicle, but when you get right down to it, it’s the Mach Five. The number isn’t just his racing number on the car. It’s actually the fifth in the line of cars from the Racer family. There were four more before it. The “old” fans know that Rex died driving the Mach 4 or 1 (depending on which fiction you follow, the TV show or the Tommy Yune comic), so I guess it only fits that they’d improve on a car that’s technically over twenty years old and make something even better. I decided to drop any preconceptions about the film I might have had and just show up and try and have a good time with what was offered.

Granted, a lot of it felt forced, and stiff, and well, like I was watching some kind of shoehorned combination of Lazy Town meets Dick Tracy meets an accident at the Krylon factory. But y’know what? I’m okay with that.

Because the racing captures something I haven’t felt for awhile. No, not that “I felt like a kid again” garbage, I think I’m officially too old to have those feelings again. Too many doses of harsh reality and heartbreak keep me from regaining too much of the old innocence again.

The races, especially the final one, recaptured the feeling I’d get from my glory days of First Person Shooters. Really, I imagine anyone who’s competed in any sort of competition can relate, be it videogame or sport or of any other visceral/physical/endorphin driven behavior. The games of CounterStrike where you’re the last guy standing fighting against an entire 8 man enemy team, and you somehow come out standing on top. Games of Quake where you play impossibly well; nailing every rocket jump, completing perfect laps (the armor is always there, and so is the quad damage), railing two or three guys at a time.

There was just a sense of euphoria of going against impossible odds, and making all the right decisions during the races. Having the sense to know where you needed to be at any given time to avoid being hit, and knowing the exact moment you needed to pull the trigger to win.

Most movies feel contrived to me in those situations. Of course we know the hero’s going to make it, win the race, and get the girl. There is little doubt in our minds that he will be successful. But for whatever reason, even be it the fanboy in me, this movie’s final race got me to feel what the driver must have been feeling like to be in that situation. I don’t know if it’s because he did it with so much style, or what.

Maybe it’s because videogames have delivered that similar situation in the past, or maybe the Wachowskis just know how to deliver an amazing action sequence. Truthfully, I don’t care what the reason is.

I’m just surprised a film could elicit that response.

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