Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Speed Racer: Crack for Kids and Thoughts on the Cinema

The other day I watched Speed Racer and all I have to say is WOW. The movie is definitely not amazingly faithful to the original series, but the visuals are what you would get from mixing the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the adrenaline of Fast and the Furious minus the hot girls of course. The visuals are cartoony and yet still maintain a slight realism with the characters. Overall I felt that it was a decent movie, despite the large changes in plot, but it brought to mind some very important aspects of new film making.

There are tons of movies out there like Speed Racer now that require millions of dollars in special effects, yet seem to be lacking in other elements. Many elements of the greatest movies of all time have been vanquished from the mix of these Hollywood marvels. We no longer have the slow, but meticulously constructed plots, the deep acting that can only be shown in those long shots, or the painstakingly constructed sets. Instead today we seem to rely on basically all the elements that can be shown in films like Speed Racer. The fast cuts, the simplistic plot, the acting that is cut up into chunks by the editing, and especially the computer generated effects that allow us to modify nearly everything.

Of course trying to rationalize Speed Racer as a mature movie would be unfair, due to the fact that it was specifically designed to cater to the younger audiences too and was basically a homage the the Wachowski's past influences. Yet can you honestly not say that you haven't seen a movie that falls into those general categories. Watchmen, 300, X-Men, Spiderman, Wanted, The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions. I'm not saying these are bad movies, but simply that they lack the complexity that a movie should have. Most become a mere visual eye candy contest, yet lack the human elements that allow people to connect to the characters, rather than come out of the theater yelling about how they want to kick people into never ending pits.

Of course sometimes the movies are meant to be the visual eye candy, and that is fine for that genre. It is when they mix special effects and a movie that is meant to be taken as a serious work of art that the special effects often falls short. Take for example I Am Legend. The special effects do add to the movie's desolate setting, but don't the CG vampires seem too video gamey? Also Pirates of the Carribean 2 seems to have this problem because all the CG took away from all the physical acting of Johnny Depp and instead immersed us into a world of squid monsters. Though of course this is not bad for visuals, the emotion and often the acting is lacking when an actor is rendered in a different form. Of course there are some exceptions as I must admit I was quite surprised with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which relies heavily on CG to allow Brad Pitt to play all stages of a character's life.

Though these new advances in technology are all good and provide us with some good amusement from time to time are they really necessary to make a truly riveting film? I mean think about Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. That film is now considered a classic and was made with pocket change basically. I guess what I really think we as a society should think about is whether or not these extravagant computer movies really satisfy us? Because the movies have come to reflect our society that has evolved, or should I say degraded into a kind of voyeuristic, thrill seeking, and fast paced adrenaline junkies. The movies nowadays move so fast that nothing can happen. Nothing can truly develop before something else comes and hits you in the face and diverts your attention. I mean it really makes one think what will happen years from now. Maybe the youth will think our movies move way too slow and will be even more wired up than we?

Deep thoughts for another time. Sleep is needed now that APs have begun. Peace.

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