Speed Racer—Warner Bros. (Blu-ray)

Video: 5/5
Audio: 3.75/5
Extras: 2.5/5

"Speed Racer" is a natural behind the wheel of his thunderous Mach 5. With support from Pops and Mom Racer, girlfriend Trixie, younger brother Spritle and the mysterious Racer X, Speed takes on fierce competitors to save his family's business and protect the sport he loves. When Speed steps onto the track, it's not just a race. It's an adrenaline-fueled, high-speed charge to the finish.

Opinions on this film are all over the place. Honestly, considering the series this is derived from, The Wachowski Brothers have pulled off an amazing feat. They’ve conveyed the cartoonish glory of the original and delivered a family film that is a visual delight. This film is the closest I’ve ever seen to a movie that qualifies as a live action cartoon. Regardless of whether you like what it delivers, you can’t deny that new ground was broken with this one.

The HD presentation is pristine in its delivery of detail and dimension with this one. Colors are a virtual candy land and the sense of depth is incredible. As I said before this is literally a live action cartoon on steroids with imagery that we’ve never even approached before. The sheer amount of fine object detail is astounding and this transfer goes beyond the looking through a window effect. At times it is almost too good and calls attention to some of the visual shortcomings. A dazzling feast for the eyes.

Why Warner did not include a lossless soundtrack on this one I’ll never know. This is a film that deserved everything that Blu-ray can deliver for picture AND sound. The 640kbps Dolby Digital track is no slouch, but the sense of atmosphere in the mix just doesn’t compare to the better lossless tracks out there. Bass definition is outstanding and surround use is aggressive but the mix doesn’t have that spatial coherence and tonal balance we’ve become accustomed to. Dialogue also sounds boxed in a bit. While still a solid audio presentation, you can’t help but wonder what could have been.

Extras are a bit slim for the feature film. You get a tour of the set with Spritle as he interviews some of the racers and checks out the tracks and you get a profile of the racers and the cars they drive. A production feature covers the process involved in the creation of the visuals for the film and sheds some light on the radical designs. A second disc includes an interactive racing game you can play with your remote plus Warner has included a digital copy.

This film was far more entertaining than I was expecting given the poor reception at the box office. The film’s story has a lot of heart and you can’t help but be amazed by the spectacle of it. I’m disappointed that Warner has once again chinced on the audio presentation but the video is as good as it gets.

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