Speed Racer is written and directed by the Wachaowski brothers who earlier gave us the Matrix trilogy. It is produced by Joel Silver, a brand name Hollywood producer, who once famously declared that he didn't make art. He said: If I want art, I'll buy it.
Keep that in mind as you watch this saga of a shiny universe seduced by speed. Based on a classic Japanese anime series, Speed Racer is about a futuristic world in which everyone is hooked to car racing.
Speed Racer, who was making car sounds even before he could talk comes from a family of racing addicts. But his happy family is shattered when his elder brother Rex a great race car driver dies in an accident.
Speed Racer follows in his brother's famous footsteps but as he ascends he discovers that the world of racing is nasty, brutish and totally controlled by conglomerates who fix every race.
It is not a glorious sport or an art form, it is merely business. Like in the Matrix, the Wachaowski brothers create an alternate reality.
Speed Racer struggles to protect his family resonates with the larger struggle of the individual against evil, power hungry corporations. Speed Racer is, as his mother tells him, an artist. What he does is beautiful and inspiring. But the corporates just want to turn him into another cog in the profitmaking machine.
The sentiments are noble but Speed Racer is a cartoon in the worst sense of the word. The visuals are of course dazzling but after the first 20 minutes, the bright colours and pyrotechnics started to hurt my eyes.
There is a lot of spectacle here in terms of production design and special effects but there isn't one character who emotionally engages you or one plot point that isn't entirely predictable.
As my eyes glazed over, I wondered what convinced Oscar winning actress Susan Sarandon to play the archetypal mom who makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the family as they construct a car that Speed will win the Grand Prix race in.
Speed Racer is exhausting without particularly entertaining. Brave it at your own risk!