Ben Walters marvels at the visual magic of ‘Speed Racer’, the kinetic new film from ‘The Matrix’ directors. Nestled among the bright colours and fast manoeuvres of the upcoming ‘Speed Racer’ are some photos of a zebra, glimpsed in the background of a virtual racetrack at which souped-up cars do eye-popping battle.
Easily missed, these images of the black-and-whitest of animals are described by the directors, Andy and Larry Wachowski, as a tribute to Eadweard Muybridge, the nineteenth-century photographer known for his split-second sequences showing how animals’ bodies move. What would the makers of the ‘Matrix’ films and this supercharged anime adaptation have to thank a figure like Muybridge for? The answer harks back to the birth of cinema and might hold the key to its future: simple fascination with objects in motion.
‘Speed Racer’ is a big-screen version of a 1960s Japanese animated series. Like the cartoon, the movie features the Racer family – and a story involving family pride and competitive achievement. There is a plot of sorts, but if the filmmakers expect us to keep up with the minutiae of its corporate skulduggery, or to put much emotional stock in the characters, they’re kidding themselves. They probably don’t. (...continue)