What strange irony that this past week featured both an attack
on photosensitive visitors to the Epilepsy Foundation web site and the release of Speed Racer.
First off, the movie is a blast: completely different from the original Japanimation that I grew up with, yet true to its cheesy boy-saves-world-by-driving-a-race-car core. It doesn't try to be serious, it tries—and succeeds in a big, big way—at being way too much fun in an utterly original, extremely manic, totally overstimulating way.
With influences as far from 60s proto-anime as motion photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge and photographic artist David LaChapelle (I hadn't heard of him, either), colors as bright and saturated as it is possible to put on film, a plot simple enough for the youngest audience member to grasp and the most intense flashing psychodelic imagery I've ever seen on screen, Speed Racer is like nothing you've ever seen before. The Wachowski brothers—as they did with "bullet time" in The Matrix
—have created a new visual style that I'm sure we'll be seeing in ads for years to come.
As much as I liked the movie (and I'm old enough to have been a fan of the original as a 9-year-old in 1967), I have to wonder if some of the effects won't send some photosensitive epileptics out of the theater with headaches or in an ictal state. My 11-year-old son, who plays plenty of video games and has never shown the slightest sign of sensitivity to flashing or flickering images, said that he felt slightly queasy and had a headache after the movie. I'm happy to report that it was not
due to an overdose of movie snacks, either: we had a proper meal of Lasagne before we went to the theater.