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In Defense Of Speed

May 22nd, 2008

Ken Lowery does a fine job of defending Speed Racer, calling out critics on praising Transformers for the exact same reasons they used to damn Speed. It’s the same sort of thing that bugged me when pre-tumor Roger Ebert gave The Phantom Menace three-and-a-half stars [“I wish the “Star Wars” characters spoke with more elegance and wit …but dialogue isn’t the point, anyway: These movies are about new things to look at.”], while post-cancer Ebert gave Attack of the Clones a mere two (“But in a film with a built-in audience, why not go for the high notes? Why not allow the dialogue to be inventive, stylish and expressive?”).

Ken makes an especially good point: “In those debates and in those negative reviews, it always came down to this: that serious stories are better than fun stories, and think-pieces are superior to movies that dazzle. The underlying mentality, sometimes stated but more often implied, is that some storytelling goals are simply worthier than others.” That’s something I’ve been trying to say in my own way for some time; that with few exceptions, a Chariots of Fire or Gandhi will always be seen as superior to a Raiders of the Lost Ark or E.T., simply because one is high-minded, “spinach is good for you” filmmaking, and the other just wants to have fun.

But when was the last time you watched Chariots of Fire?

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