Underseen & Underrated: Speed Racer

Every two weeks this column will shed light on the underseen, underrated, or misunderstood. Most films will be vastly different from one another, so just consider this a bi-weekly recommendation from me. This week’s film is Lana & Lilly Wachowski’s Speed Racer (2008).

Although it’s gained a cult following in recent years, I’d still like to bang the drum for Lana & Lilly Wachowski’s Speed Racer. Audiences and critics alike still tend to undervalue and trivialize just how special this film really is. The film’s candy-colored special effects seemed to be a sticking point on its initial release (according to consensus on Rotten Tomatoes), yet those same effects would be met with immediate acclaim if it was released today under Disney, Marvel, or DC. Frankly, it’s visually stunning, and ironically it was released the same weekend as the almost colorless Iron Man, which was met with unanimous praise and called “vibrant” and a “special effects extravaganza.” Granted, those are two very different films, but one is actually visually exciting, while the other is subpar by comparison.  Another thing Speed Racer was criticized for was an incoherent storyline and hollowness. This couldn’t be farther from the truth; sure, it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel but for a story about individualism and disrupting the system, it works wonders when met with its almost overwhelming tenderness. It’s just obvious that it was made with passion, something hat’s sorely lacking in today’s action spectacle filmmaking. The movie critics initially attacked sounds a lot like the headache-inducing Mad Max: Fury Road, yet that’s another film met with universal acclaim and lauded as a visual masterpiece, but really it’s just an over-saturated (via color grading) sand-colored mess. All things considered (that’s if you’re still reading, and my condemnation of two other wildly popular blockbusters hasn’t steered you away), Speed Racer was just ahead of its time, and I think it’d fare much better if released today. If you haven’t seen it, or it’s been awhile, give it another go.

Where to Watch:

$3.99 HD rental on VOD platforms

Underseen & Underrated

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