Saturday, May 03, 2008
Speed Racer The Next Generation: The Beginning
Written by Hombre Divertido
Set as a series to run on Nicktoons, premiering a week before the feature film adaptation, and featuring the voice of Peter Fernandez, who not only wrote the original theme song, but also voiced the original Speed Racer, this new DVD release from Lionsgate would seem to have a lot going for it. From a marketing standpoint it does have a lot going for it; but from a quality standpoint, unless you are seven-years-old or younger, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The animation resembles a video game more than anything else, and the opening sequence displaying an armadillo crossing the road appears to be incomplete from an artistic perspective. Unfortunately, it is simply a preview of things to come. This film is incomplete in more ways than one. From our main character’s non-existent last name, and everyone’s acceptance of that, to the plodding mechanical animation, pointless virtual racetrack, and story that serves no purpose other than to introduce the characters for the television show, this is advertising at it’s best and worst.
Should the new motion picture be successful, there certainly could be interest in a new television animated series for children, but that may be too big of a risk to take. This film will be a huge disappointment to any fan of the forty-year-old original series, and would have a hard time bringing in new fans.
In this film we are introduced to Speed, an orphan who arrives at a racing school run by Spritle Racer (Fernandez) younger brother of the legendary Speed Racer who disappeared many years earlier. Speed’s son X (Apparently named after the original Speed Racer’s older brother) also attends the school and is the resident hot shot. Lost yet? Yeah, it’s a bit confusing. Fans of the original series will get it, and see the rest of the story coming. Youthful viewers being introduced to the Racer family for the first time might be a bit concerned as to the make-up of this clan, but there are far more important things to be worried about.
Speed manages to make some friends, acquire not one, but three cars including the Mach 5 and 6, and find danger both on and off the racecourse.
This film is not all bad. Fernandez adds a nice touch as his vocal quality remains consistent to the original series, some of the supporting characters are enjoyable, and the music adds a nice touch, but the story is simply too trite, and most will see it as nothing more than a device to get you to watch the new series.
The bonus features include a making-of piece that you should watch before the film, an introduction to each character, and a racing game that will make it quite clear who this film is targeting.
Recommendation: Young children might be used to, and subsequently more appreciative, of the video game animation and the simplicity of the story, and combining this film with future episodes of the television series might allow for a story to develop, but this is not for the fans of the original series. It simply lacks the pacing and energy that was Speed Racer.