Speed Racer (2008)

Speed Racer is the Wachowski siblings’ perhaps underrated, largely unsuccessful adaptation of an anime/manga story about a boy named Speed Racer who dreams of being a professional race car driver like his disgraced, deceased older brother Rex. The racing world eats dreamers for breakfast, though, so Speed’s success requires every ounce of determination he has, as well as help from his mom, his dad, his girlfriend Trixie, his best friend Sparky, his little brother Spritle, a chimpanzee—and a mysterious ally known as Racer X.

For me, this movie is a fantastic dramatization of the passion of the expert and the pursuit and achievement of justice in the face of staggering odds. I love it. I love it for reasons that are more like feelings than they are like reasons. I don’t think I can properly explain.


Beware spoilers below.

Continue reading Speed Racer (2008)

Fast Track: No Limits (2008)

This street-racing movie was set in Germany and had a European flavor.

There are four main characters:

  • the female owner of a family garage,
  • her boyfriend, who’s a street racer and in law enforcement,
  • an American pizza delivery boy who wants to race,
  • the wife of a rich German who wants him to teach her to race.

The primary source of tension (there are several) comes from the struggle to keep the nearly bankrupt family garage open.

What sticks in my mind most is a negative. After some kid loses a street race, one of the henchmen of the crime boss cuts his hand off. Yuck!

Wrinkle in Time (2003)

Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wrinkle in Time is an odd mix of fantasy, science-fiction, and Christian self-improvement pitched at young readers and published in 1952. Some aspects of the story lend themselves well to cinematic depiction, but unfortunately the climax is hard to dramatize. That didn’t stop Disney from trying. Although it’s not a great movie (it was made for television, not theaters), I’m glad it exists. I’ve now watched it twice. Yes, that’s a VHS tape.


See below for more thoughts on this adaptation. Beware SPOILERS.

Continue reading Wrinkle in Time (2003)

The Last Samurai (2003)

I am a fan of Tom Cruise, but I thought The Last Samurai was boring and overly sentimentalized.

The patronizing characterization of the Japanese as savages transformed into blind idealization of the Japanese as being actually quite lovely and graceful and heroic, which is just as patronizing.

Technology is depicted as inherently, thoroughly bad because it can magnify the consequences of unjust wars.

The emperor of Japan was portrayed as spineless, right up until the end, where suddenly he cared about the protagonist and his Samurai rebel leader friend.

I like fight scenes that are clever and funny, but all these were either loud, chaotic, and bloody, or slo-mo and serious. Nothing in the movie was funny. I was bored by the entire thing and had to go and get something to do while watching it. Not a winner.

Roger Ebert disagrees with me.