Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Movies

I saw Speed Racer on Sunday and while it was fun film to watch, I sat there thinking "A person should not walk out of Speed Racer thinking "Wow, I really want to see Iron Man again." So I shouldn't have been surprised when this article about Speed Racer's poor opening appeared online. Speed Racer was not a bad movie; John Goodman was the quintessential Pops, and Christina Ricci did give Trixie some justice (that girl could not get any love in the cartoon), but some of the things wrong with it were that there was a little too much emphasis on how the Wachowski brothers were going to revolutionize movie-making, and I think they could've tamed down the Technicolor world a bit. The races were spectacular, and I'm not one to enjoy a film just for its visual candy, but it is not re-watchable. Once you know how everything is going to turn out, it loses a little something. The world they lived in was more Technicolor than the cartoon ever was [and it may seem like blasphemy that I'm not calling the show an anime, but what we got here in the U.S. was nothing like its original Japanese counterpart which, ironically enough, wasn't that popular in its native country (Wacky Races is more fondly remembered) and so I'm calling it what it was for us] and I found that a little distracting. That, and the fact that Inspector Detective looked like a white Malcolm X and Sparky was a redneck with a British accent was a bit silly. There were more cuts than on a suicidal teenager (tacky, but apt) with probably 60+ cut scenes using people's faces as the different "wipes" (like that star wipe Homer Simpson was fond of) and it took too long to build up to the point of the film. I didn't want to give the Wachowski brothers my money because I don't like their films, but it wasn't as bad as the media is making it out to be. Funny enough, though, it felt more like a superhero movie than Iron Man did.

Iron Man, even with Gweneth Paltrow as the Marvel Moneypenny (I don't remember the name of her character but it was something similar), was a good film. Not a good superhero movie, but a good movie in general. I rarely want to pay full price to see something twice, but I do want to see it again. We saw it the Friday it opened and I really liked it. I think the industry is being stupid in assuming that people like troubled superheroes because they are more empathetic because they are missing the point; the film has to be good to draw an audience. It doesn't matter if the character is likable or not; if the movie sucks, people are not going to throw away their hard-earned cash on it. What they did right on this film was hire a man who could play (for lack of better word) an asshole. Tony Stark is, essentially, 007 and Q combined. I didn't know anything about the comic before seeing the film (I didn't read anything other than Archie comics when I was a kid), but I really enjoyed it and look forward to more sequels as long as they are well-done. What sucked the life out of Spiderman was that the second sequel wasn't as good as the others and, much more damagingly, the principle actors in the film bitched about having to make it (yeah, like Kirsten Dunst had so many work offers poring in). I hope the Marvel people pay attention to that lesson and make good on Iron Man II.

I almost feel bad for the Wachowski brothers. I say "almost" because I didn't really like the Matrix, the first sequel was terrible and the second sequel was so bad one of my girlfriends told my husband and I the entire plot from start to finish to keep us from wasting our money on it. Speed Racer is a fun film that might be worth waiting to see at a dollar theater, but it's not bad bad. [Fans of the series should at least give it a chance and ignore the commercials for it.] It just wasn't as stellar as Iron Man (but it did make me want to race around town for awhile; high gas prices kept me from probably landing in jail).

And on an unrelated note, will someone please tell George Lucas to stop making these damnedable Star Wars films? He's releasing a CGI movie to sell a series which will focus on the Clone Wars, and he must be stopped. Just let it go, man!


David Dust said...

As a young gay boy, my friends and I would play "Speed Racer" while wearing motorcycle helmets. And I remember ALWAYS wanting to be Trixie!

And that damn monkey used to piss me off for some reason.



SailorAlphaCentauri said...

You're not the only one who had a hatred of the monkey. I cringed every time he was on screen.

SailorAlphaCentauri said...

...and Trixie was the best!