In 2003 Mattel created a cartoon series based on their Hot Wheels line of toy cars. They were hoping that World Race would be picked up and syndicated. They bundled the first episodes along with sets of Hot Wheels cars, created a PC game, and promoted car sets based on the show, but none of these marketing gimmicks was able to get their show on the air. Over a year ago, Mattel took the episodes that they had, created an ending to wrap up the series, and released it on DVD as Hot Wheels: World Race [review.] Now they are trying again, this time with a series of direct to video movies under the title Hot Wheels AcceleRacers. The first volume, Ignition, has just been released.
This hour long movie is a sequel to Hot Wheels: World Race. At the end of that movie, Dr. Tesla and his racers had conquered Highway 35 and obtained the Wheel of Power. As this movie begins, the racers from the world race have gone their separate ways. Two of them have joined rival car clubs which is where Dr. Tesla finds them. He has discovered that the Wheel of Power holds the key to more than just Highway 35, but a series of other racing worlds, called racing realms.
Furthermore, every time a racing realm is completed, the car that finishes the track first gets an Acelecharger, a computer chip that gives the car special powers. The Racing Drones have been completing realms at an amazing rate, and getting more and more powerful. Soon the drones will be unstoppable.
To prevent this form happening, Dr. Tesla convinces the two car clubs, the Teku and the Metal Maniacs, to enter the racing realms and try to beat the racing drones. When the doorway opens, the drives have one hour to complete the track, or they'll be trapped in that realm forever. That's all to the plot really: Two teams of cars racing against time and evil robots.
This hour long movie is the first in a series of direct to DVD movies based in the Acceleracer world. Three other volumes, "The Speed of Silence", "The Challenge" and "The Ultimate Race" are scheduled to be released later this year. You needn't have seen the previous volume to understand this movie however. Someone recaps the previous events and explains everything.
This wasn't the best show, even for kids. I viewed this movie
with my two sons, aged 9 and 12, since that is the age group the movie
is aimed at. While they enjoyed it, neither of them thought it was
great. One member of a team (a good guy) is abandoned in the first
realm that's encountered, and both of them thought that was unfair and
mean. The show doesn't end in a cliff hanger, but does end in the
middle of the story, another thing that the boys didn't like.
The animation to the show was all computer generated. Unfortunately, the CGI was pretty primitive by today's standards. While the cars and backgrounds looked okay, but the people were crude. They didn't move realistically, and they looked more like plastic dolls than real people. Their proportions were off too, with some people having biceps larger than their heads. While this didn't ruin the show, it didn't help it either.
Unlike the previous Hot Wheels movie, World Race, this DVD has a really strong soundtrack. The 5.1 mix makes good use of the whole soundstage, panning and fading the sound as cars race. There are a lot of explosions, wrecks, and revving engines, and the clean, crisp sound added a lot to the show.
I was happy to discover that the movie was presented with an anamorphically enhanced widescreen image. The picture looked very good, with bright, vivid colors and nice detail. The picture was sharp overall, with only some minor aliasing marring an otherwise nice looking image.
There were a variety of extra features on this disc, though none of them were really impressive. The Virtual Car Gallery and Meet the Drivers featurettes has images of the various cars and their pilots with a voice over that gives various statistics.
The Glossary defines terms used in the show, and AcceleRacers Colletible Cards is a six minute overview of the collectible card game.
There are also a set of four Micro-episodes; four minute-and-a-half long highlight reels from future volumes from the series. (I assume.)
This movie is aimed at young boys, and my two sons enjoyed watching
it. They both said that they weren't really interesting in seeing
it again, though they are interested in the future volumes. Since
the replay value is so small, and the entertainment value for adults is
a little on the low side, this is a disc that is best rented.