It’s pretty incredible what a modest budget can accomplish in animation these days. Case in point, the modestly produced Race, an independent full-length computer generated film from Hyper Image Studios, very much in the vein of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In terms of scope and ambition, Race hits the mark. Sadly, on the storytelling front, it’s not quite as impressive.
Race‘s science fiction tale unfolds in the distant future where intergalactic race teams compete in the Star Car 5000. Think Speed Racer meets Star Wars but without anything great brought to the forefont in the melding process.
The main character, Trance Caldron, represents Earth’s team. He and his group go up against the foul play of alien opponents, uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire galaxy.
To say Race is similar to The Clone Wars perhaps doesn’t go far enough. It’s sort of the equivalent of that kind of cereal you find on the bottom shelf in a bag with no name brand. You could squint and you’d swear that you’re watching a pod race, which should serve as both a testament to the animation and a condemnation of what adds up to a pretty deriative sci-fi adventure.
That’s not to say that Race doesn’t have it’s place. This should be material ripe for Redboxes, even if it isn’t going to spawn a multibillion dollar franchise. I will admit to being somewhat confused as to who the target audience is. I’d say that Race is perfect for a six to ten year old audience, but there’s just enough swearing that, while it would never even register in a live action movie, is more than a little off-putting in a animated film.
Unfortunately, the copy of Race reviewed included only the film, though the final DVD does include an audiocommentary. While I can’t vouch for it specifically, it’s hard to imagine it not being interesting for fans of independent animation, if only because Race seems more fascinating for its real-world background than for its own fictional narrative.
Ultimately, Race may not be a wonderful film but it a pretty impressive demo reel, something that looks to have paid off as Hyper Image plans to continue the Race universe as an animated television series, something that it’s probably better suited for in the long run.
Hyper Image, meanwhile, is working on its next feature-length project N.O.R.M.A.L. about a team of Men in Black-like animals that secretly come to the rescue of minor disasters. Judging from the trailer, it already looks set to make up for the originality that Race is lacking.