Anime Review: “Redline” – Speed Racer on Crack

Written by Alex Bowman June 18, 2014

Redline

Awhile ago I did a top 5 review of my own personal cinematic guilty pleasures and I mentioned a little anime film from a few years ago called “Redline.” It’s a sci-fi racing flick that premiered at multiple film festivals after 7 years of development, including over 100,000 hand-made drawings. The reason that I want to talk in greater length about this film is to explain it’s draw for myself – especially since I’m an anime fan – and why you need to give “Redline” the benefit of the doubt.

 

“If you’re not first, you’re last.”

The plot of the film mainly focuses around an intergalactic race held every five years called Redline. Racers from different systems compete in preliminaries called Yellowline races in order to qualify for race. The protagonist, Sweet JP, makes it to Redline due to a technicality and competes against the other drivers on planet Roboworld, whose inhabitants are a little bit annoyed that they have to host the race. Basically, it would be the equivalent of NASCAR wanting to hold their Sprint Cup in North Korea. The tension builds as the Robos try to prevent the race from happening while Sweet JP tries to win it all.

Redline

If that plot synopsis was good enough to ignite you (I’d like to think I’m that good), then you may want to give “Redline” more than a passing glance. The one thing that will drag you in is the atmosphere and the designs. Mother of all that is anime, this film is so fucking beautiful to look at. “Redline” feels like a real sci-fi romp that doesn’t just borrow designs from other films, and then slap on an extra cherry to make it look unique. The designs for each character and alien actually feel unique, and it really adds some good flavor for the universe the story takes place in. Each character has something unique about their voice, design, and vehicle and are even given a little back story or motivation for competing in the Redline race. These two things stand out the most for me whenever I talk about this film but, unfortunately, there is one major reason why I have to admit to it being a guilty pleasure. Also, the races are very fun to watch; it’s like Mario Cart on drugs

“I have the need…the need for speed.”

“Redline” sadly falls under the category of style over substance; it’s almost like the bright and flashy colors are trying to distract you from what little plot is happening in the background. A film about racing should not have only TWO races. It’s also a bad sign when you realize that “Redline” has a race at the beginning and the end while the middle is all just fucking around in the guise of plot development and exposition dumps. The plot actually focuses more on the racers not racing and the Robos being all pissy about people coming to their planet to rev their engines too loudly near their posh townhouses.

Redline

The movie’s climax involves a giant Kaiju interrupting the race because the Robos are illegally working on WMDs in their basements like a bunch of sentient toasters working on The Manhattan Project. JP couldn’t give two fucks if they were stapled to the back of his ears. His only concern is getting the girl and finishing the race (even though the thought of getting post-race nookie seems like an annoying after-thought). Basically, the plot, for what it is, is sorely lacking and will make you annoyed that there isn’t more racing than you were promised. My only argument is that the few racing segments may be well-executed enough to grab you, and the animation is enough to hold your attention.

Yea, this movie isn’t really quotable.

This film is a doozy to recommend to people. It has a lot of great imagery and it really does feel like a sci-fi flick with the creative designs and unique settings. The racing segments, though few and far between, are very well executed and will have you popping veins because of how intense it can get. The giant, dead horse carcass around the neck of this potential masterpiece is the plot; it’s lacking, it tends to drag on more than it needs to, and it really feels half-baked at times. Look at it this way: It’s better than most racing flicks in existence so it wouldn’t hurt to give it a peek.

My Rating: 6/10

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