NEWS ARCHIVE - 5th to 11th MAY 2008


Search Now:

In Association with


8th May 2008


Earlier 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 film's title).

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 Ticket 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 cameras!)

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 In Sickness and In Health; the Blu-ray and DVD versions of Michel Gondry's bizarre comedy Be Kind Rewind; a re-release of the steamy biopic Gia (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 A Walk With Love and Death; Ernst Lubitcsch's Cluny Brown; Brian de Palma's controversial Redacted; and the DVD and Blu-ray versions of horror festival hit All The Boys Love Mandy Lane.

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:  DVD   Blu-ray

HBO 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 slim-case packaging.

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 price).

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 of August.


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 here.


Site content copyright J.A.Knott - 2002-2008