Speed Racer

Featured In Issue 136, November 2008

WSR Score3
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Sequences of action, some violence, language and brief smoking
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Two-Disc Set: BD-25
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Not Indicated
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The Wachowski Brothers
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Dolby Digital 5.1
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Speed Racer (Hirsch) is a natural at driving his family's racing creation, the Mach 5—a car so fast and full of gadgets it is deemed unbeatable. Hoping to redeem the family name after his now-deceased brother Rex Racer (Scott Porter) was caught apparently cheating in the brutal Casa Cristo cross-country race, Speed sets out to dominate the racing circuit with nothing but his talent and his Pop's (Goodman) awesome car creation. When Speed discovers that top corporate interests have been fixing the outcome of major races for profit, he enters the dreaded Casa Cristo race to expose the corruption that has crippled the sport that means the world to him. (Stacey Pendry)

Special features include the 15-minute Spritle In The Big Leagues and 16-minute Speed Racer: Supercharged! featurettes, a digital copy of the film, and up-front previews. In addition to the same special features on the DVD, the Blu-ray Disc™ has an additional featurette Speed Racer: Car-Fu (28 minutes) and an immersive DVD game Speed Racer: Crucible Challenge.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.32:1 DVD delivers on the fantastically vibrant color scheme of the film, with deeply saturated, intensely bright colors that really pop from the screen. Black levels are deep and consistent, and shadows are delineated nicely. The source element appears very processed, with an unnaturally polished appearance. Fleshtones are too red, and contrast is somewhat overpumped. The entire image seems somewhat soft, and noticeable stairstepping and digitization can be distracting at times. Edge enhancement, luckily, is not noticeable. The VC-1-encoded Blu-ray Disc looks superb, with bright, bold colors and a fantastic sense of depth in the image. The polished appearance works well in high-definition. This is a great image. (Danny Richelieu)

The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack features a broad front stage, but the sporadic surround channels limit the engagement of the presentation. The surrounds are often under-utilized, which is a disappointment, considering there are scenes that are fully enveloping. The LFE channel is used well when needed, with bass dropping down below 50 Hz with natural definition. Phantom imaging is not incorporated with much consistency, but the front stage does deliver an audible sense of depth. Dynamic range is adequate and fidelity is good. The noise floor is low as well. The Blu-ray Disc's Dolby Digital encoding doesn't sound much better than the DVD and is a big disappointment. (Danny Richelieu)