Renee and I went to see Speed Racer, the Wachowski Brothers' live action adaptation of the old anime series, at the local IMAX theater this morning. Even though we went to the first showing of the day on a Sunday, the theater was near 70% full. I've read a couple of reviews, which were not very flattering.
I didn't watch Speed with as much devotion as Astro Boy when I was a wee squirt, but I watched enough to have all the salient plot points down, and to understand the general pattern of the show, it's 'story mechanics', if you will. And from those remote memories, I have to say that the live-action adaptation was pitch-perfect. It was not a slavish imitation. No, that would have worked less well than the current incarnation.
For instance, in the original American adaptation of the Tatsunoko Productions series, American voice actors adopted a frenetic style of delivery to keep up with the rapid Japanese scripts. There is a single scene in the live-action movie where the primary villain delivers a speech to Speed with that headlong machine-gun style, and it works well as a call-out to the original corny series. But the brothers do not attempt to sustain this dialogue style throughout the movie. And that was the right decision.
I won't start enumerating all the little ways in which the series was captured in the movie, or the ways in which the movie struck out on its own, but only observe that they did a great job of fusing the memories of my childhood with the more modern technological and pop culture elements of the world expected by the majority of their audience.
See it. Really.