Gran Turismo is finally on streaming, and I for one, am annoyed I missed it on the big screen. The movie was great and really worth the watch.
Video game-to-movie conversions haven’t had the best track record. There have been two versions of Lara Croft, both pretty much forgettable. Angry Birds I didn’t even watch. Don’t even mention the original Super Mario Bros. from 1993.
There have been some decent ones, the remake of Super Mario was fun, and the first Sonic was watchable. Then things like Need for Speed were just… meh. Again, it came out, no one really remembered it, and it didn’t have all that an engaging story.
I went into Gran Turismo with low expectations. It’s another video game conversion and I thought the story would be like Need for Speed – forgettable. I was wrong and very pleasantly surprised at how good this movie was.
The original game was made by Kazunori Yamauchi and was designed to be the most accurate racing simulator of all time. It took all the details from all the cars and the tracks and built them into the computer to make it as real as possible.
This created fans that started to become the best virtual drivers in the world. They would build the cars, and customise the engine, the brakes, and the aerodynamics, to make the best cars for each track. They would then rack up hundreds, maybe thousands, of play hours on certain tracks.
In the movie, marketing exec, Danny Moore, (Orlando Bloom) pitches to Nissan to start a driving academy for the best players. The academy could then produce real drivers, on real tracks, in real cars.
Jann Mardenborough, played by Archie Madekwe, is one of the best Gran Turismo players online. He knows the cars, he knows the tracks and he’s very well known on the leaderboards. He learns of an online race that could see him join the academy.
Jann’s father doesn’t think much about playing video games. He was a footballer and wanted Jann to join his brother, following in his footsteps. But Jann loves to drive and wants to follow his dream of becoming a real race driver.
The chief mechanic for the academy is Jack Salter, played by David Harbour. He is a mechanic and trainer, but he could have been one of the best drivers in the world if it wasn’t for a race that didn’t go his way. I won’t spoil it, but his story is interesting.
Start Your Engines
Two words that kept going around in my head – “gear porn”. The movie is directed by Neill Blomkamp and this is one of his best movies. His directing style is “realistic”, as you can see from most of his movies. I think his biggest problem has been the story. Things like Elysium and Chappie looked amazing, but the stories weren’t all that good.
In Gran Turismo, the story is excellent and really compelling. You’re with Jann on his journey. From his bedroom playing the game to the final race where he has to prove himself to his team, his father, and himself.
Gran Turismo is an underdog movie, but it’s a good underdog story, with real problems to face into and overcome. I mean actual issues, not like the ones we see most females facing in movies these days, but “real” problems that need sweat, determination, and a lot of hard work to tackle.
This movie is great, it’s exciting, and the entire thing is based on a true story. In fact, the real Jann was the stunt driver for the movie. This was a very cool thing to learn. Before the end credits, you get photos of the real guys next to the actors.
One of the great things about this movie is David Harbour. He is fantastic here. I mean, I have always liked the guy in whatever he does, but this is one of the best performances I’ve seen him give. His story starts with him not believing that any of the ‘virtual’ drivers will make it.
As the movie goes on, Jann needs a father figure and Jack slowly takes on that role. As he sees Jann grow into the role of driver, he sees himself. The character development of both Jann and Jack is great.
On top of all this great story is some seriously good camera work, drone shots, and gear porn. I always felt that things like Fast & Furious took the gear porn over the top. You have a camera flying through the exhaust, through the engine, up the driver’s ass and out through his nose.
In Gran Turismo, there are just flashes of the engine revving, the suspension squashing, the pistons working. It’s not over the top, it just gets you excited about how the cars are racing and who is going to win.
There is a lot more to the story, but I’ll let you find that yourself. Gran Turismo is a great movie, a breath of fresh air, and something to look forward to seeing. I highly recommend it. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime.
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