There may be plenty of blockbusters left this summer, but let's take a quick look at one of the big titles already announced for next year: The Wachowski bros. big-screen, live-action version of Speed Racer. The cast is all in place, and it's looking good—mostly.
Now, I got really excited when I first heard the news that a Speed Racer flick was in the works. Well, 10 years went by, and I thought it would be one of those titles that just slipped through the cracks (G.I. Joe, Hugh Hefner biopic, etc.). But in the last 18 months, Warner Bros. has been full "speed" ahead, first attaching brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski, marking the brothers' first writing/directing collaboration since their groundbreaking Matrix movies. A solid choice.
Next the lofty task of casting the title player, Speed Racer. It came down to three choices. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shia LaBoeuf and Emile Hirsch. It looked like Shia was locked and loaded, but Spielberg and Indy Jones 4 came calling, and he backed out. Superproducer Joel Silver settled on the Alpha Dog himself, Emile.
Next came his leading lady, and again, it came down to three names. Reuniting Emile with The Girl Next Door's Elisha Cuthbert was discussed. So was pairing him with the beautiful rising star Kate Mara (Shooter, 24). That would have been my choice. Instead, Christina Ricci (who passed on playing Turtle's girlfriend on Entourage, by the way) will play opposite Hirsch as Trixie.
While everybody knows I'm a huge Ricci fan, especially of the work she's done lately, I gotta say I'm a little disappointed. She's almost above this movie. Too big a star and talented an actress to play opposite the less experienced Hirsch. Everybody needs a pay day I suppose.
The great casting so far has been in the supporting characters. Speed Racer's parents will be played by John Goodman and Susan Sarandon, and Lost star Matthew Fox will play the mysterious Racer X.
Also on board: John Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree. The legend!
So, the film is starting to take shape, and I think it has the potential to be one of the best tent poles of 2008 (also, I'm so focused on Iron Man). Hopefully Andy and Larry will gear the film to an older audience and not settle for foreign-friendly kid fare. Looking forward to it.
Oh! And to show you how ill I am, the monkey is being played by a real monkey. What up Chim Chim!