8th May 2008
this week I attended the press screening of the Wachowski brothers'
Speed Racer, their hyper-kinetic adaptation of the 1960s Japanese
anime series about a teenage racing champion (the Speed Racer of the
The film is heavily-stylised. The film is a
kaleidoscope of vivid eye-popping colour. Even the more subdued scenes
(the sequences showing the family's domestic life, for example) have a
comic-book feel, akin to what Warren Beatty attempted with Dick Tracy.
Stir in a healthy taste of Death Race 2000, and you have your plot.
The movie steps up several gears for it's
revved-up action scenes. The wacky races not only stretch the rules of
physics to breaking point, but also credibility. You'll either go along
for the ride, or be left on the starting grid.
At two-and-a-quarter hours, the film is
overlong, and rather repetitive. I suspect that even young 'uns (the
primary target audience) might get a little bored. The plot has a few
kinks, but it's generally very straightforward and undemanding.
The cast is well-chosen. John Goodman
provides the backbone of the film, as Pops, the father of the family, an
old-fashioned, proud man with diesel for blood. Susan Sarandon plays mom,
supportive and nurturing. The locve interest is Speed's simpatico
childhood buddy Trixie, played by a suitably elfin Christina Ricci.
Lost's Matthew Fox is suitably enigmatic as the mysterious Racer X.
Comic relief is provided by Speed's younger
brother (uncannily like a very young Al Lewis), and the family's
scene-stealing pet chimpanzee, Chim Chim. You can probably guess the sort
of hi-jinks and scrapes those two rascals get into! No, really, you can.
The rest of the cast is oddly peppered by
Brits, including The Life and Loves of a She Devil's Julie T
Wallace; Coupling's Ben Miles; Grange Hill's Ashley Walters;
The Curse of Steptoe's Roger Allam, as the film's corporate
villain; perennial heavy John Benfield; and This Life's Ramon
Tikaram. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a handful of V For Vendetta's
supporting cast members appear here, too.
The film is a triumph of style over
substance. It's certainly a treat for the senses, especially in the
bright, tightly-focussed presentation at the IMAX. The sound mix is
enveloping, but the producers have wisely chosen restraint, as a bombastic
mix would have been very exhausting. Michael Giacchino's playful score
supports the showy visuals perfectly. The effects, primarily provided by
ILM, defy criticism. They're realistic, but within a universe where
gravity is apparently optional. Spectacular stuff!
Speed Racer is unlike anything
you've seen before. Films like Sin City and 300 have pushed
the envelope, but Speed Racer is in a league of its own, but, if
you can, see it with a ten-year-old child!
Speed Racer opens at the BFI IMAX on
May the 9th. The BFI IMAX is located at South Bank, London SE1. Nearest
tube is Waterloo. Tickets can be bought in advance from the ticket desk or
by telephone on 0870 787 2525 or online from
prices: IMAX DMR films Adults £12.50, Concs £9.75, Children £8.00.
Coming soon to the BFI IMAX: The Matrix
and X-Men all-nighters; The Incredible Hulk; and The
Dark Knight (which will include four sequences shot with IMAX
5th May 2008
Titles added to the Incoming
database in the last few days, or those which have had press release
details added to them, include: the first season of the BBC sitcom
Sickness and In Health; the
versions of Michel Gondry's bizarre comedy Be Kind Rewind; a
re-release of the steamy biopic
(which features a memorable scene between Angelina Jolie and
Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell); the
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Series 6 and
Series 1-6 box sets; John Huston's 'lost' film
Walk With Love and Death; Ernst Lubitcsch's
Cluny Brown; Brian de Palma's controversial
Redacted; and the
Blu-ray versions of horror festival hit All The Boys Love Mandy
It looks like buyers of the Blu-ray edition
of George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead are getting the crappy end
of the stick, since it will apparently not include the bonus features from
the second disc of the Special Edition DVD version. You can read
the press release here:
Video are re-releasing their Rome TV series DVD box sets during May
and June, at a lower price. The sets will also be re-issued in new
Since the press release was only issued on
Friday, it's not surprising that this news doesn't seem to have registered
with the etailers (who still seem to be listing both sets at the old
Nor does the press release say what the new
RRP is! If you are interested in buying the series, now would seem to be a
good time to investigate your options. I have the season one box set: it's
beautifully presented, and the bonus features are excellent. I'm hoping
for a Blu-ray version of the second series, though!
The release of
Otis on DVD has been put back, from the 16th of June to the 11th
Philip Glenister, who played DCI Gene Hunt
in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, will be signing copies
of the new
Ashes to Ashes DVD set at HMV Oxford Street tomorrow
(Tuesday the 6th of May), from 1pm.
Members of the
Absolutely cast will be appearing at the Zavvi store on Buchanan
Street in Glasgow at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday (the 8th of May) to sign copies
of the new DVD set.
Last week's Zeta Minor News
can be viewed here.
Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed