Here he comes! Here comes live action Speed Racer!

USAToday has given us our first look at the Wachowski Brothers live action adaptation of the classic Japanese cartoon and it looks as if they’ve found a way to translate the anime’s kinetic look to the real world.

Looking back at the 1970s, it certainly seemed to be a heyday for Japanese television imports- Astro Boy, Ultraman, Starblazers, Johnny Socko And His Giant Robot. But one show, which all my friends and I would gather at our one friend’s aunt’s house to watch, seems to have left the biggest impression on our pop culture memory- Speed Racer. We couldn’t get enough of the adventures of world famous teen race car driver Speed, his girlfriend Trixie and the rest of the Racer clan. When he wasn’t winning races, Speed fought bad guys using the Mach Five, his race car laden with so many gadgets as to make James Bond’s Astin Martin envious.

Since its original syndicated run in the ’70s the series saw a revival in the 1990s, airing on MTV and then Cartoon Network and Boomerang. The show was name checked in songs by Tori Amos, The Presidents of the United States of America and Alpha Team and has been mentioned on such television shows such as The Simpsons, Scrubs, Friends and Robot Chicken.

The picture below shows that the Wachowski’s certainly are letting their imagination run riot. The twisted loop of race track reminds me of the loops I would make with those old Hot Wheels flexible plastic tracks.

Wait a minute. In the above photo, the car has the classic Mach 5 silhouette , but the number 6 on it. An unintentionally released spoiler?

Man, does John Goodman look like his cartoon counterpart, Speed’s dad Pops Racer, here.

To fans of the cartoon, this is certainly a familiar sight. Speed’s younger brother Spridle (Paulie Litt) and his pet monkey Chim-Chim stowing away in the trunk of the Mach 5 and causing no end of humorous complications in Speed’s life.

Head over to USAToday for more pictures, including one of Emile Hirsch as Speed in his classic blue shirt and red kerchief and Matthew Fox as the mysterious Racer X.

Speed Racer zooms into theaters on May 9, 2008.

Avatar für Rich Drees
About Rich Drees 7210 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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