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TOPIC: Speed Racer (2008)

Re: Speed Racer (2008) 9 years 3 months ago #6093

With Speed Racer now out on DVD, I have finally had a chance to see it. While by no means as good as Cars in terms of family automotive racing fare, it certainly did not deserve to be as roundly panned as it was by critics when it first came out. To be sure, the film's multiple narrative lines and its theme of corporate corruption might have been too complex for younger audience members to follow. And without a doubt that stupid chimp was unfunny and damn annoying.

Still, there was much of the film that warranted praise. We've seen green screen put to use to produce comic book aesthetics on film, like in Sin City and the 300. Yet the CGI design informing Speed Racer owes more to TV cartoons and video games. The pallete of wild colors reminded me of early Saturday morning cartoon programming. Some critics have said that the racing scenes looked like something from Mario Kart as a complaint but I felt that the gravity defying racing scenes were one of the film's more innovative moments, just like the gravity defying martial art sequences in The Matrix. If The Matrix brought to the screen a vision of virtual reality, Speed Racer continues on this theme by placing the viewer in the virtual world of a video game.

Not only is Speed Racer innovative with respect to its use of CGI visuals, it also breaks new ground with respect to digital editing. Throughout the film, cuts between shots are internalized within the shot as the camera pans:



Instead of presenting three successive shots, as in conventional analogue editing, the 'virtual' camera pans right showing one view of the race (the left hand side of the above image), crosses over the figure of Royalton in anguish at the sight of Speed Racer winning, to a new and different view of the race (on the right hand side of the above image), as if all are contained in one continuous shot. This type of editing has been used in certain music videos and adverts but has really yet to be adopted by mainstream filmmakers in any systematic manner.
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