Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Speed Racer


On one hand you have the Wachowski's and Joel Silver... The Matrix was what it was tho I felt V for Vendetta was disappointing (to put it nicely). Speed Racer, presumably a solo effort as opposed to a "trilogy franchise," would hold more of a production similarity to V in that respect, so I am wary.

On the other hand, you have that cast:

The film stars Emile Hirsch ("Alpha Dog") as Speed, Christina Ricci ("Black Snake Moan") as Trixie, Matthew Fox (TV's "Lost") as Racer X, and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon ("Dead Man Walking") and John Goodman ("Evan Almighty") as Mom and Pops Racer. Rounding out the main cast are Australian actor Kick Gurry ("Spartan") as Sparky; Paulie Litt (TV's "Hope & Faith") as Sprittle; Roger Allam ("The Queen," "V For Vendetta") as Royalton; and Asian music star Ji Hoon Jung (popularly known as Rain), making his major feature film debut as a rival driver.

Hirsch channels a young Tom Cruise ala Risky Business in The Girl Next Door (a surprisingly good movie) and I'm sure he'll pull off a good Speed should he be allowed to (or be written as). And Fox as Racer X, well, that's pretty sweet. Rain, however you want to see it, was an incredibly smart casting move by the producers.

Then of course the car-- while the press release would have you believe that is a real car, I assure you it is for now a nice rendering of how the car may eventually be fabricated. Though I can hope and dream that the movie's cars and races will be as cool as we all want them to be.

Speed Racer as a big movie is an odd choice, it was never a major force in America, and recollections to the old cartoon are skewed towards a rather old audience. The fears of this new adaptation center around what will surely be an incessant need to "appeal to a younger and new generation" thereby discarding everything that its real audience knew to love. The adaptation of V was weak when compared to the original story, yet it too had to be modeld into something "current and appealing to today's audience." Ugh. I would love for Speed Racer to be a good movie. I know it can be, every element for a good movie is there in the original content. If only they can remember that.

I've a strong attachment to Speed Racer, both the TV series and the original comics, as well as the newer comics which I played a role in bringing to market. Published by WildStorm in late 99/2000, the Speed Racer 3-issue series was written and drawn spectacularly by Tommy Yune, in my opinion you are unlikely to ever find a better adaptation. Yune's story is proof that the series and characters can be updated and expanded upon without subverting history, and is the strongest argument for the potential quality of a new movie. The Speed Racer mini was followed by a Racer X series also written by Yune, but with art by the amazing Jo Chen. WildStorm also published a collection of the original manga which they sadly did not follow with additional volumes. Despite pleas of support, the view of manga and the trade market at the time was woefully short sighted.

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