How do you take one of the more unique race car films from the seventies and destroy it? Remake it with a bland story, add a very adult cast of Nic Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Vinnie Jones, and slap a PG-13 rating on it. Also, turn it in to a lame ass action comedy, for extra insult to injury. “Gone in Sixty Seconds” from 2000 is an uneven and fairly tedious action comedy that has all the edge of a crime thriller, except it’s suitable for teenagers, a crowd that will appreciate director Dominic Sena’s insistence on imitating Michael Bay.
You have to appreciate the kind of world that “Wreck It Ralph” creates, paying homage to the vintage video games of the gamer culture, and building on that to introduce some very entertaining characters, with some complex issues about self worth, and what defines them. Though very derivative, “Wreck It Ralph” is a fun movie, especially for an ex-gamer like myself, and the director and writers really keep their target audience in view, while also giving some nods to the folks that grew up with the classics, offering endless Easter Eggs that help flesh out this rather unique tale of a bad guy seeking to show that he’s much more than a destructive force.
I appreciate the fact that Marvel are appealing to a more diverse audience of readers by turning their more dynamic characters in to alternate versions more interesting and complex. Surely, there will always be a place for the eighties Ghost Rider, but “All New Ghost Rider” is pretty fantastic in its own right. It dares to change the entire mold of Ghost Rider and manages to build a titillating and complex look at a corner of the Marvel Universe rarely explored: The lower class struggling to get by. Mostly though I appreciated Felipe Smith’s writing abilities, as he touches upon a lot of elements growing up in inner city neighborhoods. Robby Reyes is a high schooler caring for his disabled little brother alone, and in one scene there’s gun fire in the distance, followed by police sirens. “Remember, we never go outside when we hear firecrackers,” Robby tells his brother Gabe, after convincing him the gun fire was firecrackers.
Russ Meyer was a man who loved breasts. He surely enjoyed the female form, but mostly he loved breasts. He fetishized them, worshipped them, and centered his entire career making films that idolized them in some form or another. Russ Meyer is one of the last directors who cast and adored curvy busty women, and though he’s written off sometimes as an exploitation director, Meyer definitely was a dying breed of male. Sure, breasts are still worshipped in today’s society, but not many directors have the guts to reveal them so much in their films.
For anyone expecting a car film in the vein of “Vanishing Point,” they’re bound to be ridiculously disappointed. For “Two Lane Blacktop” is much more about the journey and the thrill of being a racer as it is about races. This is not “The Fast and the Furious” that revolves around hot women and fast cars, but more about two journeymen and their young aid who engage in endless travels from town to town in a world ruled by law and order. James Taylor is the Driver a fast talking back dealing con man on the road with his hot rod and his two cohorts who constantly are on the look out for a new challenge. When they reach their destination, they scope out potential rivals, deal them in to a big race, and collect their rewards. On the way the three folks in their car are looking for something: a purpose.
I’m probably one of the five people in America who thought that “Speed Racer” just got a bad rap by critics and audiences. I mean, really, what were you expecting from this flick? When all is said and done, I don’t think it’s that bad a movie at all. In fact I’m more than willing to admit its bevy of flaws but am still able to enjoy it in spite of the evident caveats. “Speed Racer” is too cool to just dismiss. I mean for a two hour and fifteen minute movie (seriously, Wachowskis?) it’s actually easy to sit through with a very unique take on Speed Racer. I hate to play apologist to the Wachowskis and their big budget effort, but I have to appreciate the pulp neo-noir take on “Speed Racer” with a vision that doesn’t talk down to kids.
The Wachowskis aspire for something unusual and awfully contradictory with “Speed Racer.” They want an intentionally animated live action film, but a film that also looks as realistic as possible. They want a family film, but this is a film that may not be appealing to all children, and they want a story that simple but also quite complicated. Just when you think you’ve seen all of Spritle and his monkey, there’s an unusual tale about corporate corruption. Maybe it’s because of all the contradictions and hapless surrealism that I responded to “Speed Racer” with such enthusiasm. I know it won’t be for everyone, and it definitely has its own flaws present, but speaking as someone willing to meet the Wachowskis halfway, everything involving Speed and Racer X made for some interesting drama.
I know Tarantino would love to take the credit for the popularity and new found interest in “Vanishing Point,” thanks to his repeated references to the movie in his underrated “Death Proof,” but that’s simply presumptuous, considering many people have been singing the praises of “Vanishing Point” for years and years. It’s been deemed as the best car movie ever made, and is considered a pure cult classic, way before Chin McGee mentioned it on celluloid, and that’s a fact. “Vanishing Point” is really nothing but a one hundred minute car chase across country, and I loved every minute of it.