Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

HULK’S FAVORITE MOVIES: SPEED RACER (2008)

Hulk touts the criminally underrated film from the Wachowskis.

HULK’S FAVORITE MOVIES: SPEED RACER (2008)

AMALGAMATION: THE COMBINING OR UNITING OF MULTIPLE ENTITIES INTO ONE THING

BESIDES BEING ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE WORDS, IT IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT IS A TRICKY PROPOSITION IN CINEMA. WE MOST OFTEN THINK OF IT IN TERMS OF QUENTIN TARANTINO'S WORK, WHERE HIS FILMS SEEM TO JUMP INTO DIFFERENT GENRES AT WILL. BUT THEY OFTEN SPEAK IN HEAVY CODIFIED LANGUAGE. THEY SHIFT IN LOOK AND FEEL SO WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE EXPERIENCING. BUT ANYTIME YOU PLAY WITH THESE THINGS, WHAT YOU ARE REALLY PLAYING WITH IS AUDIENCE EXPECTATION, WHICH PROMPTLY TURNS ANY AMALGAMATION INTO A HIGH WIRE ACT.

SPEED RACER IS AN AMALGAMATION.

AND IT'S AN AMALGAMATION OF SO MANY THINGS THAT IT MIGHT SEEM CONFUSING: IT'S A RACING MOVIE. IT'S A KIDS MOVIE. IT'S AN ACTION MOVIE. BEYOND MERE GENRE, THERE'S THE SUBJECT MATTER ITSELF: IT'S A MOVIE ABOUT CORRUPTION. A MOVIE ABOUT FAMILY DYNAMICS. IT'S A COMING OF AGE STORY. AND BEYOND MERE SUBJECT, THERE'S THE RAUCOUS TONAL JUMPS: SILLY MONKEYS, GUN VIOLENCE, DATE NIGHTS,  KUNG FU, SCHOOLYARD HIJINKS, IMPROMPTU WRESTLING MATCHES. HECK, THERE'S EVEN A SPEECH ON THE STOCK MARKET MANIPULATION. BUT SOMEHOW, SOME WAY IT ALL COMES TOGETHER IN A NEON POP SYMPHONY OF ENTERTAINMENT THAT THUMBS ITS NOSE AT THE VERY NOTION OF CONSISTENCY WHILE DOING EXACTLY WHAT IT NEEDS TO... HOW?

THE OTHER WORD HULK LIKES IS "ASSURED."

THE WACHOWSKIS ARE ASSURED FILMMAKERS. THEY BELIEVE IN THEIR FILMS. THEY GIVE YOU BIG, BOLD, CONCRETE WORLDS WITH SUBTEXT WRITTEN RIGHT INTO THE TEXT ITSELF, WITHOUT FEAR OF EMBARRASSMENT. AND AS HULK ARGUED WITH CLOUD ATLAS, YOUR ABILITY TO EMBRACE THEIR WORK TENDS TO DEPEND ON WHETHER OR NOT YOU BUY THE CONCEIT IN THE FIRST PLACE. SO YES, SPEED RACER IS REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT ITS WORLD. IT'S SERIOUS ABOUT THE STAKES. IT'S SERIOUS ABOUT THE FUN. IT'S SERIOUS ABOUT THE CHARACTERS. THAT'S BECAUSE IT JUST BELIEVES IN ITSELF. IT BELIEVES IN EMILE HIRSCH AS THE RACING WUNDERKIND, JUST TRYING TO DO WHAT HE LOVES. IT BELIEVES IN JOHN GOODMAN AND HIS OUTRAGEOUS CAPACITY TO RADIATE DECENCY. IT BELIEVES IN CHRISTINA RICCI, WHO HULK SWEARS TO GOD IS CHANNELING BABY-VOICED MAE WEST VIA ANIME LOUISE BROOKS. THEY'RE ALL PART OF IT. AND EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THIS MOVIE JUST GETS IT. THERE'S EVEN A KIND OF "TRUE PG-NESS" TO THE WORLD THEY'RE IN AND THEY ALL FOLLOW SUIT. THAT SOUNDS SILLY, BUT IT REALLY READS LIKE THE VIVID DAYDREAM OF A 10 YEAR OLD FED BY THE NINTENDO GENERATION, WHO HAPPENS TO BELIEVE EVERY CARDBOARD CUT-OUT IDEAL THAT'S ACTUALLY WORTHWHILE.

OF COURSE, HULK UNDERSTANDS THE INITIAL REACTION TO THE FILM. WE CAN LOOK AT A LOT OF THINGS IN WHAT WE COLLECTIVELY DETERMINE AS "QUALITY FILMMAKING," BUT HULK WONDERS IF WE'RE A BIT TOO RELIANT ON COHESION SOMETIMES. A TONAL JUMP. AN INCONGRUOUS ELEMENT. SENSIBILITIES FOR THINGS YOUNGER THAN OUR OWN. THESE ARE THINGS THAT CAN SEEM TO SEND AN AUDIENCE MEMBER RUNNING FROM THE THEATER. AND HONESTLY HULK THINKS IT'S WHY CREATIVITY SEEMS LESS INGRAINED INTO STORY APPROACH AND MORE OFTEN RELEGATED TO SEMI-INVENTIVE CONCEITS (I.E. "IT'S A GUY, BUT HE'S LIVING IN THE DREAM OF ANOTHER GUY AND IT'S ALSO A SPY MOVIE!"). WE DON'T LIKE OUR STORYTELLING TO BE "NEW." WE JUST LIKE IT TO SEEM LIKES IT'S NEW. AND MEANWHILE, THE CREATIVITY OF SPEED RACER IS EXPRESSED IN A MUCH WEIRDER WAY THAT EASILY THROWS US ON JUST ABOUT EVERY TONAL LEVEL. BUT THIS ISN'T A LAME CASE OF SIMPLY TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYBODY. THIS IS A FILM WHERE EVERY SINGLE DECISION MAKES SENSE FOR THE STORY AND CHARACTERS. BETTER YET, EVERY DECISION HAMMERS HOME THE POINT OF THE MOVIE ITSELF. IT REALLY IS ONE THING. SO HULK IS LEFT TO THINK ABOUT WHAT HULK MOST APPRECIATES ABOUT MOVIES: WHAT BRINGS ON HULK'S FAVORITISM? OFTEN IT IS SPARK, PLAYFUL INGENUITY, A BELIEF IN SELF. THESE ARE THE REALLY EXCITING THINGS BECAUSE THEY MAKE MOVIES FEEL NEW, EVEN WHEN THE NOTION IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY.

SO WHEN HULK SAYS YOU JUST HAVE TO "GO WITH IT" TO ENJOY SPEED RACER, HULK ISN'T SAYING TO TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF. HULK IS ACTUALLY ASKING YOU TO TURN YOUR BRAIN ON. FOR THIS IS AS VIBRANT, SWELLING, AND UNAPOLOGETIC A MOVIE AS THEY COME. YOU JUST HAVE TO LET YOURSELF ACCEPT IT FOR WHAT IT IS: A FEVER-INDUCED AMALGAMATION, A P.G. TELLING OF MARIO KART WRIT "REAL." AND IT GETS THERE. BOY, DOES IT GET THERE. IT'S A WEIRD MIRACLE OF A MOVIE, BEST EXEMPLIFIED BY THOSE TRANSCENDENT FINAL LAPS, WHEN ALL THE BOMBAST AND BONE-CRUNCHING OF THE RACE'S CINEMATIC IMPACT SLOWLY SLIP AWAY INTO THE TRIUMPHANT, ETHEREAL MOMENTS WHERE WE SEEM TO BE RACING ON AIR ITSELF.

THIS IS THE FILM THAT RACES ON AIR.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
t