No, Speed Racer, No - Joel Hall

One day, when ticket prices became astronomical, I told myself that I would never walk out of a $10 movie. Two weeks ago, I almost did, but I stayed so I could tell other people just how bad the movie really is.

"Speed Racer" is, by far, the worst movie I have ever seen. There really is no comparison.

From start to finish, the movie could have been a perfect example of why psychedelic drugs and making movies shouldn't mix.

I didn't go into "Speed Racer" expecting a lot, but I was expecting a little. Since my childhood, I had been inspired by the artwork of Japanese animation pioneers, such as Tatsuo Yoshida, the creator of the original "Speed Racer" cartoon series, and Osamu Tezuka, the creator of "Astro Boy," and considered by many to be the Walt Disney of Japan.

Watching, and drawing, anime growing up, inspired me to create Japanese-inspired shirt and skateboard designs while going to high school in Virginia Beach, Va. It was one of the key factors that inspired me to live in Japan for two years as an English teacher.

While in Japan, I watched a lot of Japanese films and was greatly impressed by several directors, who were able to break from the structure of Japanese life and create films that defy logic. Takashi Miike, director of "Ichi the Killer," and Tetsuya Nakashima, director of "Kamikaze Girls" and "Memories of Matsuko," were able to combine surrealism, computer graphics, and animation techniques to make live-action movies that are both real, and unreal at the same time.

There is nothing believable about "Speed Racer." The first scene takes place in a classroom, in which a young, distracted Speed Racer (that is actually his first and last name) spends his class time drawing flip books of car crashes. From there, Speed lifts off from his seat and joins a daydream-induced race consisting of badly-drawn, crayon-illustrated competitors.

After that, the film becomes a two-hour long, patchy montage, jumping back and forth from past to present, in a desperate attempt to explain the entire history of "Speed Racer" to the uninformed.

In doing so, the movie overextends itself, creating canyon-sized plot holes in the process. In an attempt to gradually unveil the mysterious identity of Racer X through a series of drawn-out dream sequences, the film forgets to address important questions like, "Who in the world is Inspector Detector?" and "What in the world is this chimpanzee doing here?"

The moviegoer is unable to establish a sense of place or time, because while the Racer household resembles a retro 1960s home, the outside world resembles something similar to "The Jetsons" meets "The Fifth Element" -- way off from the original cartoon concept.

The illogical plot makes each race seem repetitive and meaningless and the absence of time makes the viewers feel like they are trapped inside some hippie's Technicolor nightmare.

What is very disappointing is that this movie was created by the same people who created "The Matrix" trilogy. Rather than create something that defies conventional film, they created something that could have been done in a basement with a green screen.

I was disappointed by "Speed Racer" because it had the ability to be so much more. Maybe they'll do like Stan Lee is doing with "The Incredible Hulk" and go back to the drawing board.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.